Liberty Brown (2018)

I don’t know the area. I didn’t need to. Liberty Brown was worth the trip to Sunderland alone. Getting there, we were wary as to what the restaurant could bring as it is the only one in its vicinity. It didn’t take us long to realise why. You’d have to be some restaurant to compete with Liberty. Here’s why. The restaurant area is upstairs and had an outdoor area however it was a bit shivery to be out so we chose to sit inside. I enjoyed the comfortable setting. We were given a booth which we were happy with and given our menus. The drinks list is one of the best drinks list I’ve ever seen and that’s mainly down to their cocktails – if you like cocktails, go to Liberty Brown. It took us a while to choose as there were so many, but finally we decided on the Ultimate Zombie (my friend was obviously feeling the night) and I went for a Millionaire’s Mojito. Looking like they should be on show on a tropical island, they were absolutely beautiful to look at. Sarah, one of our hostesses, asked what we would like to start and again, it was a tricky decision. With our stomach’s crying out for food, we decided on Popcorn Chicken and Pork San Choy Bau which was gluten free. The Pork Choy was served in a bowl with a fresh chilli and crushed peanut garnish and a plate of crispy lettuce leaves to make up your own healthy wraps. I was impressed by its simplicity yet powerful flavours. The chilli, peanut and mince combination worked a treat. Big thumbs up! The Popcorn Chicken came as a huge portion for a starter. My colleague reliably stated that it was a super starter. Crispy buttermilk battered popcorn chicken pieces with Asian slaw and the sweet chilli dipping sauce, he demolished the lot. We were here, we were pleased and we were satisfied. But there was room for more… Bring on the mains!

For our mains, again another complicated decision as most of the many choices was so tempting; we ordered a Classic Mixed Grill and a Moroccan 12 Hour Cooked Shredded Lamb Kebab. This time Sophia brought us our dishes and our eyes lit up! In my line of work, if your food gives me a glint in my eye because of its alluring presence, it makes my world. The Mixed Grill of steak, gammon, sausage, lamb, chicken, black pudding, fried egg, tomatoes and chips was a massive meat feast! It took portion sizes to new limits. Somehow though, Liberty Brown made it look attractive. It’s a good job my colleague was hungry. He went for it and managed most of the meats – he will never forget that meal that is for sure. Stunning. Then there was my Lamb Kebab which came with a choice of salad and sauces. I went for the Super Food Salad, the Peanut and Beetroot Hummus, and Lime and Coriander Sour Cream. This dish comes with a naan style bread too and they did gluten free! Great! I was so pleased! Again, lovely presentation. I hadn’t even tasted it but I just knew it was going to be awesome. Soft, moist, shreds of spiced lamb, cucumber, pomegranate, cauliflower, couscous and spring onions, along with two of the most unusual yet enticing sauces that brought new combinations to my palate with every bite, it was absolutely amazing! The gluten free bread was an excellent accompaniment and I couldn’t stop dipping!

So somehow, because Liberty Brown was doing so well, we were having a ball, I went for dessert. As my colleague was stuffed (who could blame him) I had a Sweet Belgian Waffle with Cookies and Cream – this dish is usually for two as a sharer of two waffles but you can get one waffle for one. Rich, chocolate sauce, swabbed all over a sweet waffle sunk by a huge dollop of chocolate ice cream and two Oreos – it was decadence of the highest degree but I just couldn’t help myself. When my taste buds are dazzled like this, they just want more, more, more – Liberty Brown and I had a true connection.

As the night went on, we sat outside under the beautifully lit balcony and had a few more cocktails such as The Raspberry and Pear Nule, a King of Soho but the Candyfloss Cosmo (which disappears when poured – a wonderful infusion) was the star of the night. Not on our night, but Liberty Brown also does acoustic nights which would add extra atmosphere to the restaurant. To summarise, I came for cocktails, I came for fabulous food and I came for outstanding service. All initial aspects were fulfilled and by some margin. The customer service was excellent. Even though we didn’t have a particular host, they were all delightful. Liberty Brown you did an amazing job. I can’t wait to see you again!

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