After losing their head chef things could easily have gone sour for this Plymouth eaterie. not so, discovers
. in fact, they’re on the up.
Plymouth’s main shopping centre enjoys year-round hustle and bustle, but with emptying pockets and full bags comes empty stomachs. If you’re looking to get away from the usual chain restaurant fodder found in city centres, escape between a certain coffee shop and easy-on-the-pocket clothing retailer, cross the concrete speedway, and find yourself in Ebrington Street.
Among a couple of hip shops sits Brown & Bean, which was opened earlier this year by owners Paul Brown and Ben McBean, along with friend Anton Piotrowski of MasterChef fame. After his initial input Anton galloped off to pastures new, but this seemingly unfortunate situation has actually enabled two of his protégés to step up to the plate – and the pass. Brothers Jimmy and Joe Cotton have four years of Michelin-starred cooking behind them, having worked their way up from apprenticeship level under Piotrowski’s wings, and boy, are they flying, with excellent reviews oozing out of every site in the virtual clouds.
We entered this small but perfectly formed restaurant on a damp Thursday lunch time, embraced by the warm dark wooden floorboards, stripped back tables and chairs and exposed brick wall – all complemented by soothing white wood and simple wall adornments.
With plenty of natural light flooding in through the bay windows, as even the clouds opted for a lunch break, we felt relaxed in our surroundings, eagerly perusing the menus while our complimentary fresh warm bread with homemade houmous was put before us. At lunchtime they provide a very well- priced set menu option (two courses £12.95 or three courses £16.95), as well as an a la carte menu consisting of four choices per course, with evenings becoming a more upmarket affair with their taster menu.
We opted for the a la carte and dived into our pre-starters of crab and brown shrimp madras poppadum, and a salt pollock Scotch egg with fennel purée – incredibly tasty morsels all of them, so we knew we were in for a treat.
For starters, we couldn’t resist the idea of more crab – this time curried Devon crab with watermelon, cucumber and radish – while roasted quail breast, candied walnut and beetroot appeared opposite. Our dish contained delightfully sweet meat, enveloped in a respectful amount of curry that brought warmth to the back of the mouth, whilst the watermelon, cucumber and radish all worked their cleansing wonders after each mouthful – a fresh and balanced dish.
The main course was a meaty affair of rump of beef, carrot purée, swede fondant and roasted shallot, while my dining pal was pleased with his Marmite glazed hake, roasted cauliflower and sea beet salsa – a perfectly cooked fillet of fish, basted until bronzed, adorned with crispy sea greens as if it had just come from the seashore.
Dessert was a beauty; delicately sweet and as pretty on the palate as it was for the eye. We had a plum double decker, with pink peppercorn marshmallow and yoghurt ice cream – there were textured layers, sweet jelly and mousse, a bit of spice from the mallow and the creamiest of ice creams.
At the end of our meal we were treated to some chocolates Joe had made and, considering this is a skill all its own, it’s no wonder this talented duo are getting a warm reception. We urge more people to ‘cotton on’ to what’s happening in Ebrington Street and escape the concrete jungle to feast on exceptional food by Cotton and Cotton in the calm, casual environment that is Brown & Bean.