Sunday, November 27, 2011

We Should Have Gone To McDonalds

Did you ever go out for dinner, sit down at the table in the restaurant and get that sinking feeling?  Welcome to our meal out in Belfast last night.  We decided a week ago to head up for the night, managed to get a hotel without spending a fortune and then the hunt for somewhere to eat began.  The ever-lovely Manuel and even lovelier LMM threw out a whole list of suggestions but they were all completely full, unless we wanted to eat at 5pm.  That's a bloody late lunch for us!  Eventually, I found a table at The Grill Room at Ten Square.  Reviews were relatively decent so the reservation was confirmed (all the time hoping that the other places would have a cancellation).

Image courtesy of Tripadvisor

We arrived at the Grill bang on time to see a lovely buzzy room full of suits wearing Christmas hats - obviously the party season kicks off early in Belfast and were promptly brought away from the action to an upstairs room by a very charming waiter.  There, the lovely experience came to a crashing halt.  The atmosphere was like a dentist's waiting room, but without the magazines.  We were shown to a table against the front windows and there we sat.  No menus, no water, no anything apart from an arctic wind whistling through the windows and the roars of a huge works do next door which drowned out the background music.  As we waited, the couple beside us were presented with their mains.  Except they hadn't actually received their starters yet.  The besuited management gentleman tried to persuade them to forgo the starters on the grounds that the steaks were already cooked.  Holy baby Jesus, this wasn't looking good.  I looked at The Hubs and asked if we should try elsewhere as we both had a really bad feeling about the meal.  I got on the phone & sure enough, everybody else was packed out.  The very kind people in Cayenne told us to come down & they'd try to fit us in at about 10pm but that was beyond late so we declined & decided to tough it out.

We spotted the elusive besuited manager and asked if there was any chance he could close the window as it was icy (the poor starter-less girl beside me was still wearing her scarf) but apparently the windows are very thin.  I then had the cheek to ask if we could close over the shutters and was told that he was still speaking and to wait just a minute.  How very dare I...  We were offered a move to another table in the middle of the room so took it quickly to escape the big freeze.  Menus arrived but no drinks list.  Had to ask for that... 10 minutes later our order was taken - we decided to leave the starters & just order mains.  My ribeye steak with garlic potatoes and The Hubs' roast chicken with root veg mash arrived out, but no sign of our drinks.  The drinks eventually arrived but no water.  This was a complete comedy of errors.

For a restaurant which prides itself on steak, they should really take a long hard look at what they're serving.  The ribeye looked great but was greasy, sinewy and not up to scratch.  The garlic potatoes were grease-soaked, under seasoned and quite frankly, very dull.   The chicken was good - very juicy and tender with lovely gravy but the root veg mash wasn't seasoned at all so was a waste on the plate.  The one highlight of the meal was my wine - a Spanish sauvignon blanc which I really enjoyed.

Dessert was better than the main course but a brownie had been microwaved until volcano-like clouds of steam erupted from it, which scorched the chocolate and dried it out.  Use a microwave by all means, but know how to use it properly.

Our overall experience here was dreadful.  We felt like an imposition tucked away in a dining room that the staff clearly didn't want to be working in because they were crammed with Christmas parties.  Either give decent service to everybody who makes a reservation or don't bother taking bookings for couples during the party season and concentrate on the groups.  You obviously can't be everything to everybody.

Make me this and I'll love you forever...

Luckily, @maudmonaghan suggested heading to The Merchant for a cocktail, so we hopped into a taxi and I had the nicest cocktail of my life in Berts Bar.  I'm now completely in love with Dark and Stormys.  But not with Ten Square.  Nul points.

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