A living example of a Victorian bar — okay, without the long frock coats and stove-pipe hats — The Deer’s Head is just about everything a traditional pub should be.
One of the few remaining Victorian bars in Belfast City centre, The Deers Head was opened by John Donnell in 1885 (his monogram is still on the red sandstone cover plate above the entrance). It’s now owned by Catney Inns, who also have The Fountain Bar, and is green, red and gold on the outside.
There’s seating outside at metal tables and it’s tiled inside. It’s a long, carved wooden bar with brass rails and a marble top and inlaid green tiles in the base. Train compartment style booth seating runs along the wall opposite the bar and there’s a raised section to the left with a banquette covered in a red, light brown and beige Persian carpet style pattern.
You get an unassuming bunch of local drinkers here who quietly go about their business. Although there’s a steady crowd in the day The Deers Head gets busier at lunchtime with discerning diners and a more bohemian crowd on its live jazz nights.
The Food and Drink
You’ve got Harp, Guinness, Carlsberg, Budweiser and Smithwick’s on tap and there’s their very own Deer’s Head Draught. The wine list includes a bottle of Caliterra Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon for £10.95 and Jacob’s Creek for £3.25 for a large glass and up to £14 for a bottle.
On the menu there’s a classic Ulster fry-up for a fiver, a sweet chicken wrap for £6.45 and, more exotically, pan-fried red snapper topped with garlic prawns for £7.25. A Deer’s Head Bad Boy burger (which is a double decker) is £7.65. They also have a ‘vegitarian’ (sic) choices and a kids’ menu.
The Last Word
The Deers Head is a lovely traditional pub that has retained its Victorian Belfast feel despite a few modern touches.