Eating In: Deanes at Queen's takeaway has me starting 2021 on the right note
Deanes at Queen’s
1 College Gardens
I’M STARTING early in an effort to will 2021 into being absolutely nothing like 2020. A day early, in fact, which maybe defeats the honestly very well thought out purpose.
But this, unlike actual science which should be left to (checks notes) scientists, isn’t a science.
It’s dinner. On New Year’s Eve. Collected from a restaurant and about to be finished off by me, having been started by a couple of top-of-their-game chefs. What could go wrong? There are still a few hours of 2020 left, so probably quite a lot.
One of the things that emerged from the fetid swamp that was last year was the ability to bring home food from even the swankiest restaurants and ‘prepare’ it yourself before dumping it on to mismatched plates and eating it in front of another episode of that thing about the girl playing the chess.
While writing this page every fortnight during lockdown, I generally shied away from reviewing these sorts of offerings, which was made a lot easier by having access to some genuinely outstanding takeaways.
But in the hope that doing something differently might nudge 2021 in a different direction, here is a review that rests in large part on my own ability to not make a hash of things. Really fancy things.
It’s also different because it was a one-off, a New Year’s Eve feast from Deanes in Belfast, collected from Deanes at Queen’s where they continue to offer weekend takeaway options on the more refined side of the eating-in ledger.
The regular fare is bistro classic from start to finish, but as Deanes at Queen’s has always managed, pulled off with rare expertise. So there’s goat’s cheese and beetroot salad, ham hock terrine, chateaubriand, baked cod.
But the New Year’s Eve box is also different because it’s part Deanes at Queen’s, part EIPIC, the Michelin-starred standard bearer of Michael Deane’s culinary empire.
The five-course menu is a collaboration between Malachy McCafferty of Deanes at Queen’s and Alex Greene from EIPIC. But this isn’t just any collaboration, this is Under Pressure.
Speaking of which, I really need to figure out the timings for this main course. In truth, the main is the only part of the process that requires me to do much of anything.
It’s a beef sirloin and short rib, with truffle mash, maple squash puree, barbecued cabbage and carrots.
It’s a version of the Hogwarts feast Greene wowed the Great British Menu judges with last year and requires one oven, one pot and, if you really want, a microwave for the mash.
“NB... Chef recommends to cook in pot over hob.” I’ll maybe use the pot. The reason that this is the recommendation is that there is so much butter in the mash, overheating might cause it to split – and presumably flood your kitchen.
There’s also a generous amount of it. It is definitely a feast, both in quality and quantity, and the veg alone, the heady with-grated-truffle mash and the wedge of cabbage licked in a cheese sauce, feel decadent and celebratory. Everything does, which it should for just shy of £50 a head.
I take a picture of what I end up with, but it doesn’t do it justice, so I’m not going to show it to you. I also forget to sprinkle the smoked bone marrow crumb over the top until about halfway through but, despite my best efforts, a spectacular plate still emerges.
The rib falls apart with the sirloin managing almost the same trick. The depth of flavour everywhere is outrageous and extends to the starter and dessert, both from Deane’s at Queen’s, which required no more attention than not dropping on the floor on the way to the plate.
The chicken liver parfait is sweet and velvet-soft, while the chocolate and raspberry ruffle tart is equal parts intensely grown-up dessert and sitting on the sofa between Christmas and New Year inhaling the greatest sweets ever invented, like Brexit will take them away.
Of course, there are sweets here too, three petit fours, nestled on a bed of pearl barley in a takeaway carton, like little treasures washed up on a stony beach.
There’s cheese too: Young Buck – the blue star from Newtownards, and a sweet, nutty Comté from a bit further away than that, along with apple jelly and fennel crackers. But everything’s a cracker. And a treat, and something good to usher in a new year. Here’s hoping.
New Year’s Eve box x 2 – £99.90