Belfast Telegraph

Lunch isn't for wimps: Avoca Arthur Street, Belfast

It's Co Wicklow's best-loved export and if you have the patience to queue over your lunch hour, a visit to Avoca in Belfast's Arthur Street more than pays off.

Having made our way through the chintzy paradise of the shop floor, we opt for the casual cafe instead of the waiter service restaurant. "£9.95 for a large salad?" I spluttered, surveying the menu board - but as I was being treated by insistent relatives, I decided to push the boat out. It turns out Avoca's large salads could happily feed three people, piled high as they are with hearty helpings of six filling salads. Chickpeas, pasta, cous cous, potato, peas and red onions are among the foods competing for attention, and I did my best to do them justice. The extensive menu includes sausage rolls, pastry lattices, filled rolls and soup, plus a tempting choice of traybakes, cupcakes and desserts. Tea and coffee are reasonably priced, at £1.65 for a mug of Rosie Lee and £2 for a big cup of Joe. Staff are efficient and friendly and cope well with the deliberations and questions from the long queue of customers. We are seated at long, canteen-style tables, conducive to conversation with your neighbours if you're in the mood. I could only manage a third of the salad but took the rest away in a cardboard takeaway box - much to the delight of a peckish colleague who dipped in that afternoon. Thumbs up for Avoca.

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