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Trof Deaf Institute, Review

Simon Binns waits and waits. Then waits some more.

Written by . Published on September 12th 2011.

Trof Deaf Institute, Review

THIS was supposed to be a review of Sand Bar. Honestly, it was.

But when I got there for lunch, I was told they weren't doing food, despite the large chalkboard menu that covers most of the wall that faces you upon entering.

"The heavily modified bill was less than £20. Great value for us, but a bullet hole in the foot for them."

"It's too quiet in the last couple of weeks of August," said the chap behind the bar. "Our chef goes on holiday. We're doing pizzas between seven and nine."

So we went over the road to Deaf Institute instead. It's a good bar where I've spent plenty of good nights, the most recent being with fellow Confidential food scribbler Ruth Allan after a muddy Parklife.

It was hammered. Everyone was eating or ordering food. Take note Sand Bar.

Goats cheeseGoats cheese

It was so busy that the first thing one of the waitresses mentioned to me and my friend as we took the last remaining table was the 25 minute wait on food. Fair enough.

So I got a pint of Brooklyn and my friend Ned had a San Miguel. That and the usual witty banter between two natives of Middlesbrough should easily fill less than half an hour.

We'd only ordered simple dishes anyway - deep fried goats cheese (£6.50) and spiced potato wedges (£2.95) from the snacks/sides menu and steak and potato salad (£7.95) and falafel (4.95) from the mains. Most of it was deep fryer fodder or six minutes in a pan.

An hour later, we were still sat there, foodless, trying to make pint number two last.

Overdone falafelOverdone falafel

In fairness, let me say this. The two girls at front of house were stretched and when they cottoned on to the length of time we'd been waiting, took the drinks off the bill. They were both friendly and bright. The service outside of the kitchen was fine.

The problem was in the order actually getting to the kitchen, to such a degree that when three of the dishes arrived, the potato wedges were still absent. 

I asked where they were. After a visit to the kitchen I was told they were "just in the fryer". What she probably meant was, "We forgot about those, and we've just put them in the fryer now". They arrived after the other three dishes had gone, like a potatoey pudding, still oily and scorching hot. And not spiced either.

But why so long? The goats cheese and the wedges could have been dropped in the fryer far quicker than an hour after ordering. So could the falafel actually, which only had bread dips and a few salad leaves for company. When that dish arrived, they'd actually been in too long. The wedges came off the bill too.

Steak and spud saladSteak and spud salad

The steak was ok, bar a rogue bit of gristle, and the salad it sat upon was fresh and mustardy.

The heavily modified bill was less than £20. Great value for us, but a bullet hole in the foot for them. They'd had to kiss goodbye to half the money they would have made had they been a bit more organised.

Being busy is fine and good, but there comes a point when you're not coping so you have to say, "sorry, we're full". This way the diner's disappointment is also tinged with a potential positive, impressed by the venue's honesty and by its popularity too.

If Sand Bar's reading, maybe they should look again at providing food at the end of August.

Trof Deaf Institute

 135 Grosvenor Street



Rating: 13/20

Food: 6/10
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 4/5


Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousSeptember 12th 2011.

Quay Street will not need this.

Lateral ThinkingSeptember 13th 2011.

I think you will find it does

Charles ReidSeptember 13th 2011.

So a long wait, poor food (if any at all) qualifies for a score of 13/20? Surprising - and now devalues any other review that awarded a restaurant or bar 13. Id previously thought that was quite a high score given MCr Conf standards.

AnonymousSeptember 13th 2011.

the score seems to high

Simon BinnsSeptember 13th 2011.

When the dishes arrived, two were ok, two were poor.

The services out front was good, in the kitchen it was poor. They comped half the bill, which worked in their favour.

In terms of ambience, it was busy, buzzy and a nice place to sit.

So on all fronts, not brilliant, but not totally woeful either. Just pretty average, bar a long wait. That was compensated by the reduced bill.

Worth a visit if you're passing (according to our scoring scale), just don't expect miracles. I'd argue the score is fair.

sleddalehallNovember 20th 2012.

Recent full english breakfast included egg with yolk but no white (?) one quarter of one small mushroom, rather than the 'mushrooms' on the menu, and to top it all the refusal of my Trof loyalty card, bought a year ago - 'cos we don't take them any more'.
What price loyalty?
How long is a relationship that can be described as loyal?
I for one will not darken its doorway again.

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