Thursday, 4 December 2008

Belfast Christmas Shopping

I made a quick jaunt into central Belfast this morning. I needed to do a spot of seasonal shopping, so my first port-o'-call happened to be Primark's historic Bank Buildings. Forty years ago, there was a particularly smart department store here, and I cannot recall its name. I seem to remember it was of a similar calibre to Belfast's finest erstwhile store, Robinson and Cleaver's. Now that I think of it, it may have been a House of Fraser.

I left Primark by the Castle Street exit, and ambled up Fountain Street and into Waterstone's book shop to check the price of a recent publication about old Belfast, by a chap - long since departed - called Benn. Thirty pounds. It was £21 on the web, the last time I looked.

Wandering over to Sawer's delicatessen which, incidentally, has an excellent Christmas shop next door, I bought some Duchy Originals stuff as gifts.

By this stage I'd had enough, so I paid my very first visit to Alden's In The City for lunch. Alden's city branch is in Callender Street. It was about 75% full; however, they showed me to a seat immediately. Service is prompt and efficient here. It feels like a smart cafeteria; very conveniently located too.

I opted for the Hot Pig Sandwich (£7.25) and a pot of tea (£1.70). It came within ten minutes. I liked it. It was slightly evocative of the pig sandwich served at the now-defunct Hard Rock CafĂ© in Belfast's Odyssey Pavilion (which I loved!): shredded pork, mixed with a mustardy sauce; served with a salad on a bap; and a small bowl of the most divine chunky chips I have had for years. The chips were very crisp and dry on the outside; meltingly soft inside. Ideal. In fact I wrapped a few of them in the serviette and took them home!

The bill came to a reasonable £8.95. It's the best meal I have eaten out within the last week.

Addendum: Alden's In The City takes its name from a House at my old school; the proprietor of Alden's Restaurant most likely belonged to Alden's House.

Alden's in the City describe themselves as being an "urban deli & restaurant with express dining and fresh foods to go". The address on their green business cards is given as 8-14 Callendar {sic} Street.

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