Where to eat at lunchtime has always been an issue with me and I usually end up in M&S. I just have this thing about going into small cafe’s with a big chalkboard on the wall and the staff glare at you as you try to decide what you want, it just feels like an unnecessary lunchtime pressure….oh can I just pick something nice off the shelf, go to a till and leave? For that reason I usually end up with a packed lunch or go to M&S.
And that’s where my 5 day experiment comes in, yes a whole working week forcing myself into all these wee cafes I’ve spotted on my travels around BT1, and putting up with that big board on the wall.
Day 1 – Beans (Chichester Street)
So in I went, the first day and the first coffee shop. After a quick scan of the wall, it’s a turkey, ham, tomato wrap.
I headed outside with my little brown bag, on one of those rare dry lunchbreaks and sat in the grounds of the City Hall to try out my first ‘5 day experiment’ lunch out in Belfast.
In the end it was pretty bland and flavourless. Beans serves its purpose as a functional sandwich shop, but a bland one at that. This particular sandwich shop closed not long after I visited.
Day 2 – The Little Cupcake Cafe (Bedford Street)
The place looks cute with all the cupcakes in the window and cute signage. I noticed the sign saying free cupcake with every meal and regular hot drink, so let’s test it. ‘A regular hot chocolate and a bowl of stew please’, (yes stew in mid summer…it is summer isn’t it?) and hurray, I was offered my free cupcake. I felt like I was winning by getting something for free!. Really lovely stew, lovely marshmallow filled hot chocolate and a lovely little cupcake. I will probably go back!
Day 3 – California Coffee
This was the day I met up with Mel from Bespoke Belfast, and I suggested that as it was July 4th, we should go to somewhere American, and California fitted the bill perfectly. So in we went with the star spangled banner everywhere, and the place was heaving (always a good sign!) Wednesday was one of those dry days, so we made the most of it and sat outside.
I ordered the San Ramon sandwich and a Monkey Shake (chocolate and strawberry), and they were both delicious and tasty. And surprise of all surprises, the service was superb, there’s nothing like a smiling member of staff, a bit of banter and tasty food to entice you back, and I will be back, sooner rather than later.
Day 4 – Oscars Champagne Cafe (Chichester Street)
I’ve passed this place hundreds of times and always noticed that ‘champagne’ word and thought…yum! So it made sense to try it out. In I went and was handed a menu. The waitress told me to take a seat and she would serve me. So off I went and sat down, but I noticed the menu said that all food could be prepared to take away, perfect, that was my preferred option. 5 minutes later I was served, and I asked for a chicken salad sandwich to go. She asked, ‘white or brown bread’……what does brown bread entail? Granary? Seeded? Wholemeal? Wholegrain? Or just boring old brown bread?
I paid my bill and left. No smile, no customer service, not going back. I did also notice an A4 sign on the counter saying no credit card transaction under £10….really? Nice customer focussed touch…or not.
Day 5 – The Bakery (Howard Street)
On the last of the 5 days I headed up to The Bakery on Howard Street, as recommended by a fellow tweeter.
I chose the New York Deli Wrap. The wrap was tasty enough, the cafe was cute, the service was just ok.
And that was it, my 5 days eating lunch out in Belfast customer. Overall the service was just ok. Maybe they were bored or just having a bad day! Either way it doesn’t take much to be a wee bit happy looking when you work with the public.