Belfast Telegraph

Lunch isn't for wimps: Muriel's, Church Lane, Belfast

You know what it's like; it's Friday, you've just been paid and you feel like upgrading the old faithful daily sandwich/soup/lettuce leaf.

With it being so close to the weekend there's every reason to head along to your local imbibing emporium to get an early start on the bevations alongside something just a little a bit fancy to eat. You'll find the beer tastes sweeter, your fellow diners become more attractive and the world generally seems right, or as right as it can be prior to a final few hours of work. Finding myself in said situation only a few days ago, I found myself on Church Lane (not a million miles from this office but that's as far as our leashes allow us) and happened upon a bijoux establishment I've frequented more times than Greece has had bailouts. In my book, Muriel's is a pub to go to of an evening if you're up for a good time which consists of talking to random strangers and ordering random drinks. In fact, I was even persuaded to donate 10 Cuban pesos I happened to have in my wallet following a recent holiday. The reason escapes me. Anyway, the menu which greeted me this Friday lunchtime warmed the heart on one of those Northern Ireland summer days which does anything but. A limited number of options always bodes well, for at least there's a fairly good chance the chef has actually been introduced to each dish rather than in other establishments where the list of 20-odd dishes gives good odds that the two would not recognise each other at a wedding. But I digest, I mean digress. Seafood chowder always hits the spot and did just that but you could have had mini fish and chips, soup, chicken caesar salad or the intriguingly named ratatouille crumble. All this is served in an impressively decorated bar, one which is a welcome break from the traditional norm. All that was left was an afternoon's work before the weekend's festivities began...