Sunday, 7 September 2008

Evening Spent With The Duchess

The weather had cleared up, thank goodness, by the time I drove into Belfast for a meal and a movie. Parking at the new, Victoria Square shopping complex is difficult, unless you park at their underground car-park and pay for that privilege. Since I don't like paying to park my car anywhere I circled Victoria Street, Oxford Street and Chichester Street until I found a space in Gloucester Street, a stone's throw from Ross's auction-house.

I'd made a conscious decision to dine at Gourmet Burger Kitchen which is on Level Two, adjacent to the Odeon cinema; so I headed across the mall to purchase my ticket for two hours'-worth of The Duchess. The fun was to start at eight o'clock.

I've never darkened the door of any Gourmet Burger Kitchen diner before, so this was to be a new experience. The Belfast branch seems fairly compact. Initial impressions were of somewhere akin to a high-street burger chain. Its decor seemed a bit spartan: plain, shiny, wooden floor; plain, hard seats and tables bedecked with salt, pepper and ketchup; bare walls. Think minimal and characterless. I know that sounds somewhat harsh but it's true, from my perspective. There's no luxury here, it's utilitarian and casual.

The two waitresses I encountered were very friendly and welcoming. I was greeted immediately and shown to a square table near the wall. Service is very prompt indeed; possibly, this evening, because there only appeared to be about a dozen other diners. Despite being a small restaurant, many of the tables were vacant at 6.30pm.

I opted for a blue cheese burger with fries. I enquired about coleslaw and it wasn't available; nor were onion rings. However, when my meal arrived about five minutes later, I was not disappointed: the fully-dressed burger was delicious, flavoursome and came heaped with lettuce, tomato slices, blue cheese and a few slivers of raw onion. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The chips were medium size, crisp and dry; they were served in a white bowl. By the way, I thought the white dinner-plate  was rather small for the size of the meal. I washed it all down with a half-pint beer-glassful of Earl Grey tea - appropriate given that Grey was Georgiana's lover! The meal cost £11.60 and I left a generous tip for the good service.

The new Odeon was not, at all, busy. Despite the tickets - £6.20 -  being numbered, you could really have sat anywhere; in fact I moved to another seat when the movie started. The Duchess, which refers to Lady Georgiana Spencer who married the 5th Duke of Devonshire, was not, for me, a particularly uplifting film. It was well done, the costumes, props and settings were undoubtedly sumptuous; the Georgian grandeur magnificent. Still, I found it all quite poignant and sad. Their Graces formed an unhappy partnership. It was, nevertheless, an interesting tale and remarkable to watch His Grace living in the splendour of his ducal residences along with his Duchess, Georgiana, and their close friend Lady Elizabeth - ultimately to become the Duke's second wife.

Intriguingly, Lady Elizabeth was the daughter of the Earl-Bishop of Derry, one of whose residences was Downhill Castle in County Londonderry.

My rating for the The Duchess is a solid three stars. The acting was competent enough and Keira Knightly was ravishing, as usual.


Anonymous said...

i heard the duchess was a marvellous movie, so was glad of your review. I'm going to see the boy in the stripped pyjamas which is on at the queens film theatre. QFT, is a very nice cinema/theatre. (at present the lyric are using it)

I'm looking forward to this film, it has great reviews and the book was excellent. Nice to get a new film about the last war.

Timothy Belmont said...

Hello Ann,

I didn't realize the Lyric was using QFT. The last film I saw there was Happy-Go-Lucky, in May.