Last weekend myself and a good friend ventured into the Linen Quarter, an area to the south of Belfast City Hall, and the latest in a number of areas in the city undergoing significant regeneration. The Linen Quarter is so called due to the great many linen manufacturers that made their homes there and which were so influential in the development of Belfast.
It’s an area I have been familiar with since a child, with my granddad having lived just a stone’s throw away and my mum having worked in many of these linen factories ( a subject I hope to explore more in later blog posts). I suppose I never imagined back then that it would be an area I’d return to for good food and cocktails, but I guess that is a sign of how much the city has changed for the better.
Anyways, back to our night out….
We started off at Sweet Afton , a restaurant and bar that takes its name from the Robert Burns poem ‘Flow Gently, Sweet Afton’. And I guess that’s what we did too – we flowed gently for an hour or two, having a girly chat , good food and lovely wine and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. As always, I love a good interior and this did not disappoint – a mix of comfy velvet banquettes with vintage paraphernalia and soft lighting. I absolutely loved these original windows…an indication of the industrial heritage of the area.
Next, it was a short walk round the corner to Ritas. Through the doorway we went into a cosy dark den of a place, bohemian in feel, with incense burning and David Bowie playing in the background. I instantly loved it..with swirly 70s style carpet, a cosy fire and comfy sofas and cushions, how could you not?
The bar itself was stunning…
It felt like the sort of place anything could happen. And the drinks menu positively seemed to encourage it…
I decided to treat myself to a ‘Sparkling Aviation’ – a cocktail of Violette liqueur, luxardo, lemon juice and a prosecco top. With a hint of parma violet, it was lovely and refreshing.
Since it was a sunny evening, we made our way upstairs to the sound of birdsong and to our final destination, The Perch…a rooftop bar just above Ritas. The place was thriving with people…
and with the open roof, you could look right up to the sky. As you can see from this picture, there is lots of redevelopment going on which is great to see.
My friend was feeling adventurous and opted for this colourful cocktail – a Lagarita – a mix of tequila, lime juice, grapefruit syrup and Corona
while I opted for a more sedate , but delicious Bellini.
All in all, a great night spent in an up and coming area of Belfast. Well worth a visit if you are in the city and want to enjoy good food, great cocktails and of course, as we say here, great ‘craic’. Hopefully as the regeneration continues, we will be able to see more that celebrates the industrial history of the area and I know I will be returning soon to revisit some of the places where my mum used to work
For more information, you can visit the Belfast Linen Quarter Facebook page