Michael Deane, a legend in Belfast restaurant scene, is bidding farewell to one of his gems, Deanes Eipic. This fine-dining spot, graced with a Michelin star since its opening in ’97, is closing its doors due to changing times. The £100 per head tasting menu just doesn’t cut it anymore, he reckons. The rising costs and evolving dining preferences amid Brexit and COVID have pushed him to shift gears.
A Trio of Culinary Charms
Deanes’ culinary empire spans three spots along Howard Street. Eipic sits on the left, known for its Thurs-Sat service. Love Fish takes the center stage, and on the right is Deanes Meat Locker, where the name says it all. This joint is all about the city’s steak prowess, like Rome’s chapels, and they take pride in using top-notch local ingredients.
Meaty Delights on a Tuesday
Even on a quiet Tuesday night when most places shut shop, Deanes Meat Locker buzzes with diners. The ambiance screams happiness with the clatter of cutlery and lively conversations. And guess who’s there? Michael Deane himself, ensuring every dish hits the mark.
The menu doesn’t try to be fancy; it sticks to what it knows best: meat. Steaks steal the show, cooked on a fiery Argentine grill showcased behind a giant glass window. T-bones, chateaubriands for sharing, sauces, and chips dominate the offerings. Not much for vegetarians here; it’s called the Meat Locker for a reason!
Steaks and Skills
While the focus is on steaks, the starters showcase Deane’s culinary finesse. Seared scallops with butter-bronzed surface and a silky Jerusalem artichoke purée steal the spotlight. Pork belly cubes get the Korean fried chicken treatment, bursting with crunch and sweet chili heat on a perfectly balanced Asian slaw.
Dessert ends the feast; a spiced crème brûlée with creamy apple depths and a chocolate-chip cookie crunch hits the spot. And there’s a chocolate and Seville orange tart in the cards.
Unwinding with Wine
Surprisingly, the wine list doesn’t boast extravagant price tags; most bottles are under £40, inviting you to savor the moment without worrying about the bill. The service is all about ensuring you have a blast.
A New Direction
Deane’s decision to close Eipic isn’t just a personal shift. It mirrors a broader trend in the dining scene. Belfast, Chefs like Kray Treadwell and Michael O’Hare are rethinking tasting menus for a more relaxed à la carte vibe. Even London’s Pidgin is dialing back its full tasting menu, sensing a shift in diner preferences.
A Bright Future
Deanes Meat Locker isn’t just a steakhouse; it’s a sign of changing times. As places like this embrace a more casual vibe, it’s a win for diners seeking a laid-back yet delicious dining experience. Belfast Cheers to that!