Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Out to Lunch arts festival: Long lunch left us all satisfied

Laughing lips: Lucy Porter

The doors are locked, the kitchens emptied. No more reservations will be taken for the eighth Out To Lunch festival, which ended on Sunday.

Has it been the best yet? It’s certainly been a grower, with word spreading across the city like Japanese bindweed, and people passing on a packet of sandwiches at their desk in favour of chowder and a chowdown in front of some Michelin-starred performers.

We’ve laughed along with Lucy Porter, Sean Hughes and John Shuttleworth. We’ve grooved with Geno, stamped with the Strypes, pranced along with Prince Fattie, and learned that Once is never enough.

Tom Paulin was given a rapturous welcome back to his home city, and eating with Arlo was dining with a legend.

More than 3,000 lunches were served up, and more than 12,000 people pushed into the Black Box to see a show. There were nine standing ovations, two stage dives and one marriage proposal.

Mourne Seafood supplied three different kinds of fish in their chowder. Staff configured seven different styles of seating arrangements to suit various gigs. And good old Michael Osborne drove stars and Strypes alike from airport to hotel to Black Box and back.

“It's been a truly vintage Out to Lunch,” said director Sean Kelly. “It’s been full of flavour, fun and there’s been a real civic festive spirit.

“We've all had a few external issues to deal with this year, but in spite of, or because of, those, people have really rallied round the festival and kept morale really high.”

And with that, he took down the board listing the OTL specials and hung a ‘closed’ sign on Belfast’s Restaurant of Fun for another year.

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