Lifestyle / Food & Drink

Browns Socialhouse

A celebratory clink between a Classic Margherita and a Spicy Muddled Margherita. When Adam brought it over, I was skeptical. I'm pretty wimpy when it comes spice. One sip of this glorious creation however, and I have myself a new fave. All body and flavor, without being too spicy; highly recommended. Photo: Kait Burgan

I’ve been curious ever since I saw it was going to open; tucked beside the highway heading North on the Old Island Highway in Nanaimo.

I thought it looked warm, cozy and inviting from the outside but for some reason, nearly four years after opening, I had yet to make it inside. That changed however, on a bustling Friday night. I finally had the opportunity to do more than just drive by. 

Adam Dukoff is the franchisee with Browns Socialhouse in Nanaimo. He grew up in Lantzville, went to High School in Nanaimo and then onto the University of Victoria. He's only had two jobs outside of the restaurant industry and says Browns "is the perfect recipe for a restaurant brand. They have a modern and hip design and strong operation of the business". That's what attracted him the most. He says it's his dream job, with philosophies in alignment with his own when it comes to running a successful restaurant.

It seems like Nanaimo agrees.

The inside, I can now share, of Browns Socialhouse is even more warm and inviting then it is on the outside. We didn’t sit in the patio-entrance area but it’s now on my list of local places to eat and drink. Throw pillows on a series of dark coloured couches creating a comfortable yet sophisticated atmosphere is something I'd love to recreate on my patio at home. Until that happens, I can see myself settling in for an hour, or four, on the Browns patio with some good drinks, food and friends.

I was with a good friend tonight, sitting inside, facing the front entrance. We had a good view of the bar, and the television screens above it. It wasn’t distracting though. Watch if you want, and ignore them if you don't. We could see pretty much the whole room, other than the quieter area behind us. It’s pretty cool for Browns to realize some diners are looking for a quieter environment while others are energized by hustle, bustle and noise of a restaurant full of diners. There were people from all ages in the restaurant and many of them looked like regulars.

General Tao's Chicken - a popular favourite from the Social Starters Menu at Browns Socialhouse. It's one I'll be ordering again for sure! Photo: Kait Burgan
Crunchy Spicy Tuna Taco - not your average fish taco and not too spicy! Photo: Kait Burgan

Adam met us at our table. He was energetic, knowledgable and eager to share his passion for Browns. He was with Montanas for thirteen years and after working his way, at 23 years old, to General Manager, he left to become a part of Browns.  Employing between 40 and 50 here in Nanaimo, his passion for the company and involvement in the community continues to grow.

It's clear that his team at Browns also love their jobs and they are extremely knowledgable about what they serve their guests. Our waitress, Lynette, had worked for Browns Socialhouse in Red Deer and is happy to be back with the company in Nanaimo. She could tell us every ingredient in every meal and drink. It was pretty impressive.

The Manager, Adam Hearn, was attentive and funny, and sports a pretty sweet man-bun. He has a knack for going with the energy that's happening at the table. We're goofy, he's goofy. We're deep in conversation and he knows to hang back. We'll reserve comment on how to identify one Adam from another and only say that one describes himself as "the more handsome and funny one".

#28 Dragon Bowl with with terriyaki chicken, cocount rice, veggies, red cabbage and spicy yogurt. After 4 years, this is still one of Adam Dukoff's favourites. Photo: Kait Burgan.
Potato Crusted Halibut with tartar sauce, almond rice and cowgirl salad with apple-miso vinaigrette. Photo: Kait Burgan

There’s a fun energy at Browns Social House and I must say, the cocktails on the drink menu are ones I might try to recreate at home, or at least that’s what I naively thought before realizing that the art of making an impressive cocktail comes with years of experience and expert knowledge of ingredients, both common and rare. Browns Socialhouse has a guy for that, Nick Martin. He designs the cocktails for Browns and before that, he was in Beverage Development for the Four Seasons in Hawaii.  Not a bad gig if you know your stuff. The New Mr. Pink Martini with alize red, fresh pressed orange juice and muddles raspberries left a positive impression, then again, so did the Raspberry Mojito. Then again, so did the White and Red Sangrias. Then again, so did the Shaft, special iced coffee. I’ll have to go back and give them all another round to officially establish a favourite. 

Browns Socialhouse in Nanaimo is located at 6338 Metral Drive. Their phone number is 250-933-6641. They're open from 11am - midnight, Monday - Friday and from 10am - midnight on weekends.

By Kait Burgan for ViToday.ca
Kait's writing career started at the tender age of 7, with Sally Runs Away, an 11 page, fully bound illustrated mini-novel about a girl named Sally wh... read more

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