Belfast Telegraph

Lunch isn't for wimps: Chapter One, Belfast Central Library, Belfast

By Clare Weir

Chapter One is a small cafe on the ground floor of Belfast's Central Library.

The 125-year-old building on Royal Avenue, which survived both the Blitz and the Troubles, has undergone a much-needed sprucing-up in recent times - exposing the traditional sandstone, which had been left blackened by the exhaust fumes of passing traffic - and is looking all the better for it.

The cafe occupies a small corner on the ground floor and serves a limited, but reasonably-priced offering of snack foods for those taking a break from voracious reading.

The surroundings are modern and clean and you won't find the place abuzz with chatter - this is a library, after all. There is a surprisingly good coffee selection and a soup of the day option with wheaten bread.

Sandwiches and wraps are bought in from the Erne County but there are brownie points for a mouth-watering selection of home-made buns and tray bakes.

It's not haute cuisine and it's not a cool hang-out joint, but it is one of the rare places in Belfast that you can grab lunch for under the £4 mark and the service is friendly.

One major downside is the fact that the steps of this proud building seem to have been adopted as a mass smoking area for people catching the Metro bus at the stop just outside the doors, so do be prepared to step through a fug of smoke and over hundreds of discarded cigarette butts as you make your way inside.

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