Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Goodfellas, the original review

pizza problems

An anonymous reader, I will call them Deep Throat Pan, left this nugget of blog gold as a comment on this post. It is the original Irish News review of Goodfellas by Caroline Workman. The review that ended up in court, three times. Judge for yourselves. I have no problem with it as it reviews the food. You'd think that would be a given with a restaurant review but not so......

more here
and here (maybe the end?)


26th August 2000
Irish news article by Dining Partners
May Sheridan & Frances Harper

Not good, fellas

West Belfast boasts very few restaurants. Perhaps it’s for this reason that Goodfellas has made such a name for itself, and continues to do so well. Cars lined Kennedy Way outside the restaurant, and it was so packed that people were forming an orderly queue at the door when we visited on a week night. From a customers point of view Goodfellas is a bit daunting.
Brown tinted glass prevents you from seeing inside the restaurant and a caged CCTV camera records your arrival a la Big Brother.
The numerous ‘Cead Mile Failte’ signs ring a little false when you’re asked whether or not you’ve told the receptionist you want a table, and could you make sure that you’re not standing in the way of the waitresses.
We did as we were told – lucky to get a table at all, given the extensive list of reservations well into the night. It wasn’t long before we were led through to our ‘non-smoking’ table in full view of the pizza ovens.
Our waitress brought us menus and offered us a drink. Goodfellas isn’t licensed but you can buy alcohol from the adjoining pub.
We were happy to order a cola – until it arrived. Flat, warm and watery, you can be sure it was on tap. Blue plumes of smoke from the numerous cigarettes at the smoking tables rendered the idea of a separate section a bit of a farce.
We were convinced that we were sitting under the exit for a ventilation pipe until we realised where the smoke was coming from. It’s scary how much people still chain-smoke. This restaurant would have no trade in the States.
The menu is exhaustive. Goodfellas, as you might imagine serves pizza (approximately 10 varieties), but it also offers 10 starters, 10 pasta dishes, 10 chicken dishes, 10 steak dishes, 5 pork dishes, 5 fish dishes and bizarrely, 10 Mexican dishes.
With ‘make your own’ pizza and pasta sections, and side orders, that adds up to over 80 choices.
There’s a school of thought that claims the larger the choice, the better the restaurant. Actually it makes it impossible to use fresh food unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money on staff.
The multitude of misspellings and completely new Italian words or dishes undermines the strength of the ‘Irish-Italian’ connection boasted by Goodfellas but we put our faith in the sheer volume of customers showing their support, and ordered our food with a degree of confidence.
Our starters arrived disconcertingly quickly – chicken liver pâté, deep fried Calamari (squid), and prawns in a creamy white wine sauce.
At first sight these dishes seemed fine, although the obligatory tomato, cucumber, and shredded lettuce garnish was swimming along with the prawns in the bowl of sauce.
However, after one ring of squid, a mouthful of prawns and a taste of the pâté, it became clear that these dishes were made with the cheapest ingredients on the market.
You get what you pay for these days, although Goodfellas doesn’t pass on any savings to its customers.
At £3.55 for squid (overcharged at £4.25), I did not expect reconstituted fish meat.
The translucent grey rings cannot have been real squid and the hard batter coating and bottled Thousand Island dressing did little to make them more appetising.
Our main courses arrived in as much time as it took the chefs in view to rip open three blue industrial-sized bags of processed cheese, which is actually no time at all.
Goodfellas not only does a roaring sit in trade bit it must also have captured the lion’s share of the home-delivery pizza market in this part of town.
Pizza seems to be what Goodfellas does best.
Indeed this is what most people in the restaurant seemed to be eating. When our main courses arrived we quickly understood why.
My chicken marsala (£8.55) was inedible. The meat itself looked fine, but it was coated in a sickly saccharine sauce that clashed horribly with the savoury food.
Our waitress had warned me that it was sweet, so it probably wasn’t the first time that this dish had been a problem with customers. It’s hard to know why it‘s still on the menu.
The spaghetti dish with seafood and tomato sauce (£7.55) was only marginally more appealing if you could face the Desperate Dan sized portion of heaped overcooked pasta.
The sloppy sauce had generous quantities of dodgy looking seafood.
Even the pizza (£7.95) was a let down, covered with nasty processed salami.
We didn’t witness any theatrical tossing of dough, so it’s possible that frozen pizza rounds are brought in.
Side orders of chips were pale, greasy and undercooked, and the vegetables were unmistakably fresh from the freezer – we weren’t charged for these.
At a very superficial level Goodfellas seems keen to give customers a warm Irish welcome, but the restaurant has a joyless atmosphere and the staff have no more time to be involved with their customers than those in a motorway café.
Service is mercifully quick and staff did notice that we had left most of the food on our plates, but there was little attempt to understand why, and we were then overcharged.
It’s doubtful that things will change until Goodfellas has more competition or until the owners learn that a wide choice and heaped portions are not a measure of quality. Having had a taster, we won’t be back for more. As it says above reception “Customers required – no previous experience necessary”.
Think I'll just have some Chinese food tonight........

11 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Native Minnow said...

To think, that picture of a pizza made me a little hungry, until I read how bad it was. (Even though from the sound of things, the pizza in the pic is much better than the one you'd get at Goodfellas).

sheepworrier said...

It seems like an honest review and I really can't see how its defamatory, but much in the same vein as re-printing the mohammed cartoon, you are now a legitimate target for a gentle knee-capping.

Medbh said...

Thanks for sharing it.

I would be a big tub of goo if I were a food critic.
All that food!

It sounds terrible.

lorraine@italianfoodies said...

Sometimes I wonder are we mad doing things the way we do them using the best and most expensive ingredients, making everything from scratch fresh everyday, from tommorrow I'm going to use frozen pizza bases and serve soggy chips if it means there is a queue down the road:) Everyday I pass pizza hut and dominos and think why didn't we just open a fish and chips!!!

Manuel said...

minnow: oh it's bad eh..

sheepo: certainly wasn't worth going to court over....kneecapped in the back of the head probably....

medbh: but doesn't it......

lorraine: I KNOW! It's heartbreaking! People say they want fresh and organic and all that, but are they willing to pay for it? Not a chance......portion it high and keep it cheap, that's what they want....

OneForTheRoad said...

I've been in worse in Barcelona.

They served frozen pizzas still cold in the middle, and a vegetarian pasta concoction that was 90% melted cheese, 3% mushroom and 2% pasta.

And, it being Spain, Austrian wine.

Needless to say we took the wine and walked out while the waitress was scratching her hole.

Manuel said...

oftr: I shouldn't be condoning you but, hehehehehe

lorraine@italianfoodies said...

Manuel, sooooo agree, the people who want this are in the minority!! The majority want it cheap and supersized!! My neighbour was telling me the other day how great this local chinese was doing all you can eat buffet on Sunday's for €9.95 - HELLO????? What the hell can you be eating for that money?? That guy who owns Goodfellas is probably laughing all the way to the bank and driving a Ferrari while the rest of us are sourcing better treated chickens:)

Caro said...

I don't get all the fuss about this. She had a shit meal and said it was a shit meal. Is that not her job? I've read much more scathing reviews.

The only thing she possibly shouldn't have said was speculate about whether the pizza bases were frozen (based on the fact that she didn't see them spinning the dough). The rest seemed like fair comment.

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Anonymous said...

I use this restaurant and the pizza bases aren't frozen ( never have been ) you can see the pizza chefs making the dough. This was definitely not an honest review, the whole tone was meant to paint a dire picture and that was certainly achieved. I know for sure that there were other lies and half truths but apparently even when the reviewer admitted in court that she got things wrong and stated her opinions as facts she was allowed to!!!! Something stinks and no, it aint the food!!!