Review: Brewers Fayre

Leaving the wild, windy yet sunny day behind me and strolling in through the doors of Derry-Londonderry's Brewers' Fayre, located on the fringes of the city itself, I am immediately greeted with reassuringly warm lighting, the pleasant smell of chips and sauces, and an atmosphere worthy of, if not better than, many a relaxing pub. Just the right sights, smells and sounds then.

Before I begin talking about the food, let me first admit that I'm kind of a regular here. Since it opened four years ago - was the City Of Culture year really that long ago? Time does fly - I've thought nothing of sometimes dropping by for a snack or a bottomless soft drink while, say, writing a piece or enjoying the company of friends. The considerably sized car park makes it equally convenient and welcome – how often does one struggle to park near a city centre eatery?

More welcome still are manager Andrew and his staff. Amiable, amenable and attentive throughout, their skill and savvy at keeping people happy adds to the comforting ambience.

The first thing I notice on the menu is that some of the starters are rather fishy – I guess we're in the right plaice, if you'll pardon the pun. My parents have joined me today, and for them, it's a prawn game – my mother settles for six tempura King prawns, while my father goes for the cocktail. Me, I've reserved the fish for mains, so I sidestep the know-what-you'll-get choices (soup, chicken goujons) in favour of the never-tried-before potato dippers.

Served with a deliciously thick and creamy sour cream dip, these curvy slabs of potato are well seasoned and nicely cooked with the pleasant but not overpowering touch of mozzarella and bacon. Rather stronger is the spring onion's lingering aftertaste – I'm still feeling it hours later – but on the whole I'm really satisfied. The prawn cocktail, with bread and butter alongside it, looks great, and my father's reaction confirms that it tastes great too, though his preference would have been for finely chopped lettuce rather than whole leaves. It's a tiny gripe though, and my mother's lightly battered seafood goes down very well with her indeed.

The three main portions are by nature a combination of nice, hot and exceptionally generous. If the beef in my mother's chilli doesn't seem too noticeable when she tastes it, it is still as spicy and filling as she expects it to be, with the added bonus of several tortilla chips on the side. My father's ribs, smothered in Jack Daniels glaze and served with chips and coleslaw, are, in his words, “excellent”, a real winner, while my somewhat easier to eat scampi are absolutely delicious. Like the ribs, they fill the stomach to the point where both me and my father struggle with our chips and vegetables, well done though they are. (I should add that the tartare sauce is just as thick and satisfying as the sour cream dip.)

Pudding is, for me, a very sweet winter berry cheese cake with an especially strong but no less satisfying taste. The parents share an especially well prepared salted toffee apple crumble, notable for the appealing cinnamon seasoning in the toffee sauce itself.

Throw in sparkling water, a glass of wine and naturally bottomless refills on top of all that for roughly £20 per person, and there can be no doubt me and my family have really enjoyed eating and drinking the value-for-money fare at Brewers' Fayre. It comes highly recommended from us all.

Simon Fallaha

Food is served at Brewers' Fayre, Derry-Londonderry, from 12 noon to 10 pm, Monday to Sunday. Breakfast is served from 6.30 am to 10.30 am, Monday to Friday, and from 7 am to 11 am, Saturday and Sunday.

Recent Restaurants Reviews