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Feb 8, 2009 10:27 AM

Deep Ellum more than slightly annoying.

First, this thread from last year contains some similar observations to our experience last night, so credit to Striperguy's review.

Last night we met up with 3 friends at Deep Ellum. One friend had called ahead and "reserved" a table for dinner at 8. When my DC and I were the first there, we were unsure whether we had a reservation or whether such a thing was possible, so we asked the bouncer who said "no." We called our other friend to let them know that there was no reservation policy (which would not have been surprising) and he swore he was told on the phone that they could take a reservation. We took the time-honoured "if you don't like Mom's answer, check with Dad approach" and the manager (owner?) confirmed that the reservation had been taken and pointed to a table- "we're just waiting for this table to leave and it will be yours." Problem solved? Not really.

Our other friends arrived at 8:05, and one of them had a driver's license that had expired 2 weeks ago on her birthday, unbeknownst to her. The bouncer promptly kicked all of us out. Now, we're all in our thirties and we offered to have her not drink, etc. No go. So we left and were standing on the sidewalk deciding where to go when the manager once again came to the rescue by coming outside and inviting us back in and after looking at a few other items from our friend's wallet, agreeing that it seemed likely she really was of age. Problem solved? Not yet.

Fast forward a while... it's now 8:40, and our table is still not ready. We've procured drinks- I had a blue moon cocktail, which was served in a chipped glass with a sharp rim and which really didn't have any hint of the creme de violette that was supposed to be in it. Everyone else had beer-- it's true their selection is excellent; no complaints there.

Finally, at 8:55 we were seated at a different table from the one we were told was "ours." Now, I get that it's not a reservation-y type place. So, don't take reservations. But don't take them and then fail to honor them to the tune of almost an hour. Again, the manager came to the rescue (sensing a theme here?) and bought our table an appetizer- very nice calamari, well fried. Problem solved? Again, no.

Entrees arrived and were mixed- the cassoulet got a good review. My DC's best wurst plate was good, but as commented previously a rather small portion for the $15 price. A steak frites looked good. Then, my duck confit salad... for $14, I had expected a dinner salad type portion. It really was more of a side salad amount of greens, with a nice duck leg. However, quite a large percentage of the greens had that slimy dark edge that means they've been sitting in the fridge too long. When that happens to my greens at home, I pick them over and eat them anyways. But for a $14 salad, I don't want _any_ slimy edges on my greens. So, I sent it back and the waitress was very apologetic and took it off the bill.

So, the take home message here is that the beer selection is excellent, and the manager and waitstaff went out of their way to try and give our party a good experience, but it still fell far short. If Deep Ellum were nearby, I'd maybe go back for a beer only, but with Redbones around the corner I don't think we'll be visiting again any time soon.

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  1. Slimy edges in more ways than one. The bouncer/manager interplay is fascinating. Given its relative proximity to Harvard Business School, you'd think they would at least absorb a few more basics from B101 just by breathing the air. Thanks for the review.

    1. Oh dear, have not been back since my original foray, too bad they can't get their act together.

      1. I used to frequent this place very often because of its close proximity to my home but the visits have dropped sharply over the last year or so for a number of reasons:
        -Marliave opened downtown and hence much closer to the office
        -drinks are more expensive than Green St.
        -food can be hit and miss
        -service quirks

        They still have decent bartending - they've got Dave Caigle after all - though like other things, slight inconsistencies. I've learned to live with the small things and accept it for what it is and accept the quirks on a occasional basis, where else in the very close vicinity can you go after all. On a random OT side note, the bouncer also works in the kitchen once in a while, also fixes pneumatic door hinges.

        1. Parsnipity I think you make a good point... if the manager and waitstaff went out of their way...and the beer selection is good...then I think you'll always do fine at Deep Ellum if you consider it a bar that also serves food...not a restaurant with a great beer selection.

          Sometimes its all about perception and expectations...

          3 Replies
          1. re: yummy2184

            I've gone for the unique beers... but....

            Paying $9 for a 12 oz snifter of Cantillion Fou' Foune (an apricot lambic style)... plus tip... in these times is difficult. Also, in my opinion, it was served way too cold.... I realized after I left that I'd just spent $11 for a glass of beer....

            1. re: okra

              fyi: a 750ml bottle of Cantillon Fou' Foune seems to retail for over $20, so it's actually not that much of a mark up.

            2. re: yummy2184

              Yah only if you go expecting dinner at a bar for $14-18, the service is whacky, and then end up leaving hungry then it's not even good for that.

            3. I see your point about the service, but I have to admit that I actually really like Deep Ellum. I have never eaten dinner here though. Only drunkenly ordered appetizers (which I've always enjoyed). And I have to say that I don't mind paying $11 for a beer- when it has somewhere in the range of 8-10% alcohol content. You buy less, enjoy them more... Also, this is totally passe and makes me look like a loser, but they have the best white russians in town... lol

              7 Replies
              1. re: CoryKatherine

                could you please tell me if this is the deep ellum across from the fire station on cambridge st in allston thanks

                1. re: CoryKatherine

                  I made a point in the thread that was quoted in the thread quoted above -- the bar snacks menu is actually pretty good. Hot dog and fries still $3 last I checked, pretzels, posh dips for fries, etc. I've been scared off the "entree" menu by bad experiences, but the drinks ARE good and the cheap bar menu can't be faulted IMO.

                  1. re: chickendhansak

                    Hmmm, think you've got a point there. Keep it simple on the food, and drink the noteworthy beer.

                    I did not even notice the bar food menu when I was there.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Agreed, and additionally, enjoy the aforementioned simple food and noteworthy beer out on their great back patio, season permitting!

                    2. re: chickendhansak

                      Bear in mind that the original chef -- who was in way over his head -- left Deep Ellum some time back. If your bad experiences come from earlier than, say, last fall, you might want to give them another try. Things have changed.

                      Deep Ellum has a bouncer? Man, we must just go there at weird times or something, because I've never seen a bouncer -- or a need for one -- there.

                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        Yeah, he seemed totally out of place, but darn it if he wasn't going to do his job and bounce someone...