In my last review, I'd been disappointed with Deane's at Queens. It seemed to resemble the canteen of a modern-day Auschwitz. "But isn't that what we like these days?"; a middle-finger in the face of our gluttonous materialism?
It must be an ironic enjoyment then; like S&M. Because at the end of the week, the last thing I fancied was a seat on a cold, wooden bench. But this is Deane's; regardless of the decor, you can always rely on good food and on that front, we weren't disappointed.
So when friends came over from the mainland for the weekend, Deane's Deli was chalked right at the top of our Saturday night.
Most of them had starters and enjoyed them, but I was saving myself for the main course, "Sweet 'n' sour pork". I'd wish I'd chosen a starter by this stage. My pork arrived in a bowl, the size of which had everyone else in creases. I looked on enviously as they wolfed down their risottos and steaks.
My main was very nice, although the 'noodle-soup effect' of the ingredients in my dish had me frantically fishing for any morsels hiding under the remnant jus. But at £14, I felt a little underwhelmed; it genuinely didn't look much bigger than some of the starters on the table. By this stage, several "phantom" drink orders had arrived and been dismissed by our table. "Strange", we thought...
For dessert I ordered, 'Affogato', not knowing what to expect. It arrived like a DIY dessert. Amaretto, espresso, vanilla ice-cream and amaretti biscuit, all on separate corners of the board. I hesitated before sheepishly drizzling the liqueur over the ice cream; to the glare of the hostess.
I visited the loo after the meal. It can't be somewhere that Michael Deane himself has been; paint peeling from the walls, loose doorhandles and even ropier flush-handles? It fell well below the standards of a premier Belfast restaurant.
-But the men had been spared the worst of it, as the ladies in our group were stunned to find complimentary tampons on display, on their side of the wall.
The hostess minding our company started the evening as helpful and efficient, but as the meal went on, she became less so. Eventually, she was bordering on belligerent; insistent that those imaginary drinks orders, were placed by us and would be paid for by us! We were gobsmacked by her attitude- even when she eventually removed them from the bill, she came over and hissed that she'd struck them from our bill, but they had definitely been ordered. (No they hadn't.) The service charge of over £20 was automatically expected from us, too. Charming.
(We really weren't a demanding alot, someone had requested seasoning for their starter and that had been the sum total of our needs).
So my favourite "Deane's" spectacularly hit the skids on Saturday night (16th March,'13). And it mightn't have been so bad had there not been so many witnesses to the anomalies on our bill. In stark contrast to the service here, the same friends and I had dined at House of Zen and Bert's Bar (at the Merchant Hotel) on subsequent nights. The experience and service at both had been flawless.
The quality of food at Deane's can't be disputed, but in light of its superlative competition being only a stone's throw away, the lack of customer service and neglected decor, risks this place being kicked into the long grass by well travelled young professionals; who know good service.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.