Dinner at Deane’s at Queen’s

Some friends and I eat out once a month or so, and try a new place every time. Last night, we visited Deane’s at Queen’s. Located at the bottom of the Malone Road opposite Methody (my old school!), it’s been on the go for I think about six months now as a branch of the main Deane’s restaurant on Howard Street in Belfast, one of the most expensive restaurants Northern Ireland has to offer! Deane’s at Queen’s is a more cost effective option, but still fairly pricey- kind of place you’d book as a treat.

The decor is minimalistic and fairly stark- the walls are painted a steely grey, with wood on the ceiling. There are lots of bare lightbulbs, and a rather scarily realistic painting of Michael Deane! I would have preferred more warmth to be injected into the decor- looking out as it does on Methody, with the green in front of it, and it’s warm red brick, it makes Deane’s feel a little cold and soul less. Tables were a good size though and the seating very comfortable, plus the spacing of the tables was good and you had a sense of privacy from other diners.

The toilets are absolutely bizarre- they look like they belong in the school across the road, not very clean, basic in the extreme and one shoddily constructed cubicle was even missing it’s door! It’s as if they ran out of money before they got to the loos!

The menu sounded lovely and they had some interesting specials on the blackboards. For starters, I chose smoked salmon salad with baby potatoes and horseradish creme fraiche. Two of my friends had soup (not too sure what sort, but it was vegetarian and had a dollop of gorgeous pesto in it!) and the third had chicken liver pate. The starters were beautifully presented and delicious. My salmon was lovely and I particularly liked the horseradish creme fraiche- such a simple idea, I will definitely try that at home!

We had a long wait for our main course as the place was pretty busy by then! Unfortunately I could see the cheeseburger I’d ordered sitting under the lights for ages while they cooked my friends mains, and it wasn’t the warmest when it arrived. The burger was lovely, but the bap that came with it was greasy and soggy from sitting out. It was served with a red pepper relish that was too chunky and dry- I would have preferred something more “saucy”. The skinny chips which came with the meal were very good but again could have been warmer, and once again I would have liked some sauce to dip them in. Emer had the salmon, served with asparagus, and it was gorgeous- the colours were beautiful and I was quite envious! Jacinta is vegetarian, and had a pasta dish which she was very pleased with. Heather had chosen  braised sausages, which were served with a lovely gravy and it looked very tasty. We had also ordered sides of potato wedges, a green salad and some mixed green veg, all nicely cooked and tasty.

Whilst choosing our desserts, the table next to us were delivered a portion of the lemon tart, which Jacinta and I had both been thinking of having. It didn’t look all that appealing, so she went for pavlova (as did Heather) and I went for pannacotta with vodka and (I think) strawberries. Emer went for the lemon tart, and when it came, and we all tried some, we were very sorry that we hadn’t chosen it! It was absolutely delicious, very lemony, perfect. My pannacotta was gorgeous, with vanilla evident through it and the vodka was interesting and unusual. I would definitely have it again (if the lemon tart was off, lol!) The pavlova was beautifully presented but a little overdone for my friends taste- was served more like meringue.

With one glass of wine, three soft drinks and three coffees, the bill came to £116 or so, but take note, they add 10% service charge before you get your bill. Personally I really dislike this practice- surely it should be up to the customer to decide how good the service has been?

The waitress assigned to our table was absolutely charming, a very pretty girl who smiled constantly and was very friendly. None of the waiting staff seemed to be Northern Irish, I think she was maybe Polish or Slovakian but we didn’t ask her so I am unsure! However she had a number of tables to run, and getting the attention of any of the other staff was like drawing blood from a stone! They need to be a little more flexible on that front.

Michael Deane was much in evidence, as he hovered at the perifery of the kitchen, but to my astonishment he didn’t move all the time we were there and looked a little bit like it was his first day in the job- kind of standing there looking a bit embarrassed while everone around him charged about! I kind of wanted to see someone take more charge…that’s just me though!

All in all, a good eating experience and good value for the quality of food produced. Portion sizes were excellent, you got plenty on your plate and side orders were not particularly necessary but were also generous and tasty. Service was fine but needs to loosen up a bit! Toilets really could do with a facelift, and maybe the decor just wasn’t to my particular taste.

Not sure where we are off to next month! We might try a bring your own place- I’m open to suggestions! 🙂

5 Responses to “Dinner at Deane’s at Queen’s”

  1. June 7, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Oooh I just love reading about your dining experiences Suzy!!!!!! I love how you write too, I feel like I was sitting right next to you guys!!

  2. June 9, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Deane was hanging around looking a little sheepish/lost when we went to his main restaurant last year – I think he was there to supervise and make sure everything went out OK.
    Hilariously enough, here’s a quote from my review that mirrors your own experience:
    “The restaurant was recently renovated and the only fault, which strangely seems to be the norm in a lot of classy restauarants, is that the only expense spared is on the toilet facilities and whose visitations to detract from the overall pleasant interior decorations of the building.”
    Toilets aside, the food was great. I had the carpaccio of Óisin with panfried sweetbreads, summer mushrooms and bay leaves served with a almond butter vinaigrette for starter and for my main, a saddle of rabbit with tart fine of cépes and salsify, summer truffle and verjus reduction. Both great dishes! 🙂

  3. 3 Lou
    June 9, 2008 at 9:30 am

    The meal we had at Deane’s on Howard Street was absolutely fantastic. Really worth the money as a one off special treat. However like you said, the staff could loosen up a bit. I know some people expect constant attention as part of the fine dining experience, but the waiter rushing over to refold a napkin every single time someone stands up and speeding over to refill your wine glass the second you’ve put it down gets a bit irritating after the eighth or ninth time.

  4. 4 suzy2110
    June 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Phil, what in God’s name is a carpaccio of Oisin?? Is he carving up characters from Irish mythology and serving them as delicacies now?!! :-p

  5. June 10, 2008 at 6:12 am

    It’s baby deer….Mmmmmm..Bambi.

    The menu is hilariously pretentious though – you need a fecking dictionary to work out what they’re serving. Luckily I swotted up beforehand so I knew what they were offering and what I actually wanted when I sat down to choose.

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