Deano’s Gets Rave Review in Leeds Guide

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Recent times have taught us that number 34a Oxford Street hasn’t exactly had staying power for businesses. I recall from memory the names from the past; Ganga, Cinnamon Lounge, Oxford Street Brasserie and most recently, Caramba.

Since Ganga’s long term tenancy, all the new occupants showed promise, but in the end couldn’t provide that x-factor required to be a successful Harrogate restaurant. I believe the primary reason for this was that they were ok. Fine. Not bad. But in a town with a restaurant culture such as Harrogate’s, and with competition from the likes of long-standing stalwarts like William & Vic’s, the Tannin Level, Sasso, Hotel du Vin, Le D2 (I could go on), I firmly believe that anything new, needs to offer something ‘new’. New, but also something that sustains. Somewhere that still exudes a style and a quality that lingers far beyond the honeymoon period.

Despite Deano’s only having been open for around three months, I’m sticking my neck out and predicting that two years from now, Deano’s will not only still be at 34a Oxford Street, but will be as busy, and as enjoyable as the Saturday night I recently spent there.

In spite of this statement, when I first read the name ‘Deano’s Graze and Grill’ I thought ‘American diner? Maybe Tex Mex?’ However the logo and branding told me otherwise. I read about a ‘grazing’ concept, about ‘taking tapas away from its Spanish roots’. I admit that I was sceptical. Was this just another flash in the pan that in six months would be done and dusted? I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

First of all, Deano’s has pedigree. Former Tannin Level head chef Dean Snowdon is accompanied by his friendly wife Sarah Jane, who skilfully runs the front of house (Deano’s is billed as ‘sister restaurant’ to the Tannin Level). They therefore clearly understand the restaurant business and know their audience. As soon as we arrived in this small, stylish and modern restaurant, the graze and grill concept came to life. ‘Grazing’ involves a range of beautifully presented, tapas sized dishes to select from. Therefore, rather than choosing one item from a menu bristling with delights, we didn’t have to. Instead we embarked on a culinary journey with dishes inspired by Spain, India, Thailand, Italy and beyond.

Essentially there are two menus, one for grills and one for grazing. Although the steaks being heartily consumed on the table nearby looked (and smelt) tempting, we felt we’d opt for the ‘Chef’s Table for Two’ grazing menu. Here chef Dean chooses his six best grazing plates, served up with a house salad, chips with homemade red pepper ketchup, and for starters, a Mediterranean style nibbles board consisting of fresh crusty bread, warm garlic pittas, olives, goat’s cheese, sun blushed tomatoes and hummous for dipping.

For the next half an hour, dishes arrived every five minutes starting with a rich wild mushroom risotto followed by piri-piri chicken, served with sweet potato, sour cream and salsa. Each dish was surpassed by another carefully presented ration of pure enjoyment. Next, the flavours of Asia came into play with melt in the mouth ‘weeping tiger’ rump steak in teriyaki sauce, just before perfectly cooked tandoori spiced salmon, served with mint riata.

There’s something great fun and truly exciting about not knowing what’s coming next. Still there was the house prawn cocktail, the large prawns in a light batter as well as a piquant chorizo and potato salad. Our perfect accompaniment to this banquet was a cold, light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc (£17), perfect for the balmy May evening that it was.

Deano’s is well priced. Our meal cost £35 for all six shared grazing dishes, the nibbles, the salad and the chips. Adding the wine, coffee and a magnificent hot dark chocolate brownie with a cooling white chocolate ice cream (£5), the total bill came to around £65. And while there are other places where one can consume a veritable feast for a similar fee, here it is the quality of the food and service that’s really put Deano’s among Harrogate’s best dining experiences.

I therefore implore you; don’t worry if the ‘graze and grill’ concept might seem unconventional, one should see this as a positive. What Deano’s delivers is a lively atmosphere, friendly, energetic service, decent value, great food and most importantly, it’s fun and offers something a little bit different. I also firmly recommend getting chef Dean to choose your dishes for you. That way you can get on with your conversations and delight at every surprise that comes.

As for the curse of 34a Oxford Street? I for one hope that Deano’s can exorcise those demons. I think it already has.

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