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Deep Ellum Slightly Annoying

Hit Deep Ellum last night on the way home.

Ordered the beef stew with homemade noodles which was $15 or $16 which I find a tad steep for a hipster place in Allston.

When the portion came I was pretty surprised at how small it was. Not really quite dinner for anyone with a half decent appetite.

The stew itself was really quite delicious. Can't fault it. The house made noodles had a bit of a texture that they had sat out a bit too long and dried out a bit.

The beer selection is really top notch. I had a Belgian Style Wit brewed in Maine. It was great.

I asked for some bread to go with my rather skimpy portion of stew. The Bartender asked if I wanted garlic bread? I replied "plain old bread is fine."

What came out was the tiniest, skimpiest portion of bread I have EVER been served in a restaurant. It was almost and absurdist joke. Two tiny slivers of lame french bread that the kitchen had toasted.

So I had a really skimpy portion of stew for $15+ and two bread crumbs. Figured I'd be nice and try again: "Any chance I could have some more bread."

And sure enough, the same miniscule portion. I figured if I ordered again immediately they might figure it out, but nah.

I was gonna stay and order another more interesting beer. Prices for which are okay, ranging from $5.00 or so to $8+ for some of the more special beers. I would have tried one of the $8 plus funky Belgian style dark beers, but was just so steamed about their apparent inability to actually provide some bread to their patrons.

The bartender himself was a nice enough guy.

As I got up to leave I said to him: "hey, you know those portions of bread were a bit small," to which he replied: "well we don't really serve bread," to which I replied: "you should."

Sorry, but with a tiny $15+ bowl of beef stew, the least you can do is give me a hunk of bread to eat with it.

I liked the joint. I drive by it 3X a week. But the whole attitude was just a bit too darn precious. I left hungry. Went home and ate some nice whole wheat from Iggy's. By the way, Iggy's charges $2.50 for a nice whole wheat pullman loaf. Maybe next time I go to Deep Ellum I'll bring my own bread.

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  1. "well we don't really serve bread,"
    "you should."
    LOL.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: galleygirl

      Guess Deep Ellum will be the only BYOB bar. :)

    2. "A tad steep for a hipster place in Allston."

      This absolutely nails the main reason BFP and I haven't been there nearly as often as we thought we would - I really like the folks there and the feel of the place, and it seems as though the food has finally improved, but every time we ate dinner there we dropped what was, for us, a serious chunk of change.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Allstonian

        Hey, I would not even have objected to the price... I left hungry after ordering beef stew.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          But that's the problem: the food just isn't good enough to justify the prices.

      2. they have food?
        i only go for Beers and Brown Liquor.
        and i like it, a lot, for that.

        1. Interesting....in the past year I have seen some big changes with the bread basket factor. One place I love now charges $6 for a basket of bread which used to be free. (And they don't tell you in advance.) Another used to bring a basket overflowing with three different choices (corn bread, a hearty wheat/ raisin and a nice sour dough). Now the waiter serves you one slice of white bread with his silver plated bread tongs...but only if you ask for it. Is this a trend?

          10 Replies
          1. re: mvi

            the price of wheat has risen significantly over the last twelve months.. i would imagine that bread prices have followed... leading to the disappearance of your free bread basket and the appearance of the tongs!

            1. re: mrsx

              Maybe they got tired of throwing it away after the low-carb crowd came thru....

              1. re: StriperGuy

                My lovely No-Knead bread is one and half pounds of bread for $.49 a loaf. The biggest cost is the sesame seeds I use to coat the crust.

                1. re: mrsx

                  Flour is just not that expensive even with the price increases.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I just watched something on TV a few nights ago where small bakeries are going to have to raise their prices because the price of flour has tripled in the last few months. What used to cost them $15 is now costing two or three times that amount.

                    Not that I know anything grain futures, but this link at General Mills shows the price of spring wheat having quintupled in just 2 months:

                    http://www.gmflour.com/gmflour/market...

                    And an article that talks about rising flour prices:

                    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs...

                    One baker says ""In a matter of two months, it went from $14.50 to $22.75 for a 50-pound bag," Siena said, adding that bakery uses between 300 and 350 bags weekly — a jump of $2,475. "

                    For a small bakery, $2,500 a week is staggering. So I'd have to believe it's being passed on to retailers and restaurants as well, and many are quite possibly choosing not to serve bread as Deep Ellum says, or charge for it.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      Linda-
                      that is only an increase of about $0.01 per ounce so as far as the flour goes you're probably looking at a less than $0.10 per loaf for the flour.

                      1. re: ScubaSteve

                        I don't know how it figures out to a penny per ounce, but everything I'm reading is saying store-bought bread prices are going to rise even more because of wheat prices increasing because farmers are switching to corn crops. Additional costs that are increasing are delivery charges, milk, egg prices are going up as well. Other wheat-based products like pasta, cakes, noodles should also see a price increase. Another local story from the Gloucester Times:

                        http://www.gloucestertimes.com/pubiz/...

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I have a friend who works in a bakery and was saying the same thing actually- that the price of flour was going up so much that they were being forced to raise their prices in order to make any type of a profit. Apparently they were also toying with the idea of splitting their flour- half bread flour and half regular (pizza) flour. Its a sad state of affairs out there.

                2. re: mvi

                  What is the restaurant that you refer to that charges $6 for their bread basket and/or the place that has clearly skimped out on their baskets?

                  1. re: aah209

                    Hi. This being the Boston Board, and not wanting to get too far off the subject, I left the names out when I mentioned those 2 places. Both are nearby, though. One on the Vineyard and one in Providence. If the info would stay here on the Boston Board when I put it here, I will happily provide the names of the 2 places. My original comment back in February was not specifically about Deep Ellum, though, and I am trying to be conscious of staying on target on these boards. Thanks.

                3. this is exactly why i tend to go there for brunch/lunch instead of dinner (that plus the fact that it tends to get rather crowded for dinner). their br/lunch menu is a lot more reasonable, including a $5 burger. it's still hit or miss and a bit inconsistent - this sunday i tried the "autumnal salad" with duck confit. the duck was rather dry and the whole salad did not mesh well. and one time i swear that they were just running out of food, because our table got much smaller portions of the same food as the table served right before us. but the burger and pretzels are always good, the wings are great when the fryer's really hot (i.e., it's not a good idea to be the first to order them, but later on they come out nice and crispy), the homemade sausage usually has a very nice deep flavor, and the tomato soup i also tried on sunday was delicious.

                  plus there's all that beer and cocktails...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mikhail

                    I agree with keeping it simple foodwise; burger, sausage or breakfast burrito is all I have there anymore. Didn't enjoy the buffalo wings, which were breaded (!!) and messy IMO. There have been several claims of the tiny kitchen over reaching since the place opened. Go for the beers, cocktails and friendly service.

                    1. re: mikhail

                      I had the autumnal salad w/ seared tuna in the fall and was impressed w/ the quantity and quality of the tuna on it. I think the plates of fries also is a lot of bang for the buck.

                      Also a fan of the cocktails, too!

                    2. I often go to the Publick House and rarely go to Deep Ellum, parking is a bigger problem at Deep Ellum. It seems like the prices are higher at Deep Ellum (don't know why, maybe because the beer selection is smaller?) even though they are similar to those at the Public House. I like the people and the atmosphere at both places.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: steinpilz

                        Deep Ellum has fewer taps than Publick House, but they carry more expensive beers - in some cases limited editions where only a cask or two is produced. I think that's why the prices are higher.

                      2. I've only been once..before the Yo Ma chow dinner. I had 1 of those Belgian beers...amazingly small glass with mostly foam for $8 or so..

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: 9lives

                          But that is the very nature of many Belgians (at least the ones I enjoy). Big head (but not creamy a la Guinness; more carbonated and bubbly..."foam" as you refer to it) and high % alcohol (abv), so typically, it's a 10.5 oz serving. This is the case not only at Deep Ellum, but at most serious beer bars around town. I've had only fresh and clean tasting Belgians at Deep Ellum.

                          1. re: digga

                            I didn't have a meter on the glass but I'd guestimate closer to 4-5 oz of fresh and clear tasting beer...5 oz of foam

                            Beer was good..quantity light.

                        2. french fries and cocktails. never been disappointed with that combo.

                          1. I hear you, and just want to offer the perspective of someone who loves the place. First, while there are ways to fill up inexpensively there, that's not really what they are about, in my view. They are a middle ground between a bar and a fine restaurant. (Maybe gastropub is the technical term, not sure.) I find the food excellent and worthy of a fine restaurant but in a style that befits a pub setting. And, compared to fine restaurants, the prices are quite reasonable. Of course they want you to think of them as a comfortable neighborhood kind of place, and they would like to be friendly to all comers, not just the foodies-with-money crowd. And I think they do a pretty good job... but yes they are more expensive than Charlie's Kitchen, etc.

                            I've never had a problem with the portion size, but maybe it's because, glutton that i am, i appreciate not being full because then i can eat something else! (Usually fries.)

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: jajjguy

                              I get that Josh is trying to do something more than pub grub, and that's admirable, but especially in the early days, his reach often exceeded his grasp. There were times when the Best Wurst Plate was sublime and times when it had tough, chewy sausages and inedible burnt cabbage. I just think he's trying to do more than that tiny little kitchen can be expected to accomodate. I would rather have less refined dishes that were consistently excellent, personally. I still think a good old-fashioned chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, fries, Texas toast and a side salad would absolutely FLY out of that kitchen, and be the menu's signature dish. But I get the vibe that Josh thinks that would be beneath him. His loss.

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                oh god. the catcher's mitt with toast and gravy? i'd be a regular.

                                chicken-fried steak, i wish i knew how to quit you.

                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  This was also my reaction BFP: I didn't really like breaded, oily, jerk flavoured wings... but I'd buy a good rendition of buffalo wings over and over again. I did see that they have buffalo wings on the menu so I'm moving away from complaining on this particular issue.

                                  I also generally support Anon12s point that the beer selection at Deep Ellum gets pricey too quickly.

                                  1. re: steinpilz

                                    Their wings are good. If you like em hot, be sure to ask.

                                    1. re: steinpilz

                                      I really don't have a problem with beer prices and portions at Deep Ellum given that it's often stuff that I never see anywhere else and the tap lines are impeccably maintained . For anyone who is interested, they're also building an amazing whiskey collection - I believe they currently have all ages of Black Maple Hill bourbon and rye. Those booze are pricey, but well worth it if that's what you love.

                                      1. re: Anon12

                                        oh Crap! i had a great Rye there the other day that was amazing. huge Vanilla carmelly start with a hot finish that really mellowed with the addition of a few ice cubes. something like Colorado Whiskey or something. dam, i suck.

                                        1. re: Anon12

                                          Sorta my point. This place has such potential. In the food realm (combined with the fabu booze) it would take relatively little to turn this joint into one of the most notable places in town. As is, it's a once or twice a year stop...

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            To me, it is foremost a beer/cocktail bar. Whatever Josh has going on in the kitchen, well, I have always been happy with the food - a good part of it vegan/veggie-leaning - but I could also be satisfied only with the superior beer/cocktail selection and laid-back environment. For me, that is enough to keep bringing me back. That, and the soundtrack (Wilco et al). I think there are plenty of places around town where we could spend an equal amount of money for an inferior experience. Why not fault all those places? (The list would go on to inifinty, so no specific names.) Dude, you didn't get a bread basket at a beer bar....you would get laughed out for less at other places I've been to. $15 for a beef stew seems like less of an offense than a bad $30 entree at someplace much more pretentious and offensive. From your review, it sounds like you've been in there a grand total of one time? And I think Max and Aaron would truly be offended at being called a hipster hangout...I've hung out with Aaron and chatted with Max and they are most decidedly not hipsters, but just really cool people wanting to put out a good, neighborhood-geared product.

                                            1. re: digga

                                              Then close the kitchen. It's that simple. Make the kitchen as good as the bar or close the kitchen.

                                              1. re: digga

                                                I got attitude when I questioned the bread basket. I agree with BFP if they can't hack making food where their guests don't leave hungry and feeling ripped off, then close it. Be a fine bar... of course this is chowhound and its about the food.

                                      2. re: jajjguy

                                        One interesting point is that in the same week I went to DE and the Super88 food court on week day nights at about the same time (weekends obviously different) there were 5 people at DE and over 100 at Super88. Now obviously we are talking TOTALLY different experiences.

                                        There are a dozen+ places in Boston where I can easily drop big$ and feel it is worth it. I think those restaurants are a good value even at the price. Super88 is a good value on the opposite end of the price curve. For me, to have a bowl of beef stew and a beer in what after all is a bar, pay $26 and leave hungry does not represent a good value. And judging by the fact that the place was empty while Super88 was jammed, plenty of folks agree with me.

                                        All it would have taken to get me to come back would have been 4 nice pieces of Iggy's bread at a wholesale cost to the restaurant of maybe 50 cents.

                                        At any price point people have to feel like they are being taken care of by a dining establishment. Judging by the comments on this board, Deep Ellum is not succeeding in that equation, and the empty place on a week night is further proof.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Actually a good benchmark for this place is the Cuban sandwhich at Chez Henri. More or less same price point, similar vibe, and CH is always jammed. When I have a Cubano at CH I definitely feel that while pricey for a Cubano, the value is there.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            I've only been there once, and I personally quite enjoyed it. However, to add some weight to your argument, the reason I haven't been back is that my friends refuse to go for basically the same negative reasons that you and others have posted.

                                          2. re: jajjguy

                                            I, too, have never had a problem with portion size. We always leave ridiculously full, in fact. I had the vegan pot pie last time and it was almost laughably large. It lasted for about 2.5 more meals. Just my two cents.

                                          3. Slightly annoying? I had the worst meal in there I've ever had in a restaurant and will never go back. It was expensive, too. I ordered the Wurst and it truly was the worst. It was mostly potatoes, the server told me cheerfully, and it was accompanied by soft, smelly cabbage swimming in sesame sauce, with a side of --get this-- hot sweet potatoes in plain mayonnaise. Horrifying. Maybe the fact that the chef kept refilling his coffee mug with vodka from the bar had something to do with the non-quality of the food. (DH had hot wings coated in mushy breading and way too hot.) In short, good beer & cocktails, good service, ghastly food.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: SSqwerty

                                              Sesame sauce?? Is this even noted in the menu? I've never seen a German-style cabbage dish prepared with sesame. This is huge for me, because I'm deathly allergic to sesame and was thinking of ordering the Wurst plate. Guess there's no point.

                                              1. re: Prav

                                                The preparation on the Best Wurst Plate changes pretty frequently - you should definitely ask, but chances are strong that you would get a sesame-free rendition.

                                            2. I found a very similar thread from early 2007 and it doesn't appear they've fixed many of their food issues.

                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356327

                                              I had a burger a couple of months ago just to give it another shot and the bun tasted of freezer burn as did the beef. It was the driest, and one of the blandest burgers that I've ever had.

                                              I still hit them up on very rare occasions (i.e. if I'm jonsin for a beer and TPH isn't open yet.) Everyone working there is very friendly and no attitude, but paying a buck or two more for a beer that I can get 1 mile away is crazy.

                                              1. Contrary to everyone else, I and a small cabal of friends go almost every Thursday primarily and manage to down on average $200 worth of beverages and food, most of which are cocktails. There's just no bartending like they do at DE elsewhere in Allston/Brighton/Brookline (is there?).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: avial

                                                  The cocktails I had at DE were first rate, but they're slightly better at Eastern Standard. Does Kenmore qualify as "nearby" ???

                                                2. One of my favorite new places in Allston/ Brighton, Food is excellent and the Beer selection is outstanding as is the Bartenders/ Owners knowledge of all things beer, if you want learn about beers this is a terrific place to start.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: JoeFood

                                                    Joe, I've been there once; and my Belgian beer was 50% + foam or head. Is this how it's supposed to be or was this a mistake on the bartender's part?

                                                    It rubbed me the wrong way..not to the point that I'd say something to the guy..but is this the right way to serve this stuff...or I did I just get what used to be known as a bad pour?

                                                    I just want to learn.

                                                    1. re: 9lives

                                                      I've spent a week or two in Brussels, that's just a bad pour.

                                                      1. re: 9lives

                                                        50%+ is definitely a bad pour. ~1 inch however, is considered standard for many beers, including Radeberger Pilsner and Stella Artois Belgian Lager, both of which mark their proprietary glassware for where the head should start.