Belfast Telegraph

Lunch isn't for wimps: The John Hewitt, Donegall Street

Never let it be said that this column doesn't push the boundaries. On this occasion we forsook the faithful sandwich and dived headfirst into a proper sit-down lunch, albeit in a pub.

The John Hewitt has long been a faithful establishment of journalists and the like from the surrounding Cathedral Quarter of Belfast but aside from its wide variety of thirst-quenching options, it also does a damn fine bit of food.

From the establishment which carries the name of the late poet, socialist and freeman of the city of Belfast, came a plate of pasta which wouldn't have been out of place on the streets of Milan.

Rich in flavour and heavy on pancetta, it provided a surprisingly pleasant midweek lunch and went down well with an excellent, if rather non-Italian, pint of Guinness.

My interviewee, a man of the arts who was still smarting after having to fork out for a bus into the town centre, said his flash-fried minute steak and sautéed vegetables hit the spot.

He was particularly pleased with the Comber new potatoes which accompanied his dish, as was I after having to face his wrath at a previous lunch where the spuds were thin on the ground.

More than sufficiently satiated, we opted for a quick coffee and came away with lunch and a pint for under a score, which is a kind of triumph in itself today.