“ BAR. Donegal Square West, Belfast. T (028) 9050 9777. F (028) 9050 9778 „
The apartment bar in Belfast is not a bad place to go to. When it first opened about 8 years ago it was one of the coolest places to go and had a reputation for being very posey but standards have slipped a bit over the years and the crowd has tended to be a bit less classy. There's never any trouble in it and there's always a lot of talent guaranteed. However, it's still a really good bar to go to for a few drinks and really good cocktails - though on a busy night it can take quite a long time to get served when everyone is ordering cocktails. If you manage to get the good seats by the windows overlooking the City Hall and centre of Belfast its a great way to spend an afternoon watching everyone go by whilst getting a good few drinks down you! Saturday nights and Friday evenings when the after work crowd come in are probaby the best. The food isn't bad either. Worth a visit for a few drinks if you visit Belfast.
Over the last few years, a lot of new bars and clubs have opened in Belfast. One of the more recent ones to open is Apartment, which is situated in Donegal Square West, right beside the Citybus kiosk, for those of you who know Belfast. It’s quite hard to describe, because it’s not really an out and out bar as such. During the day, the downstairs is a coffee bar, while the main, upstairs area is a bar / restaurant whereas at night, it’s a fully-fledged bar. For the benefits of this opinion, I’ll describe what I thought of it during the day – I have yet to experience the nighttime Apartment. It’s very busy – if you arrive in during the day looking for food, chances are you’ll have to queue, although in my experience, you’ll never wait any longer than about ten minutes. The clientele seems generally to be young professionals who work in and around the city centre, so as such most of the people will be smartly dressed, although I have seen no evidence of any dress code being in operation. The main upstairs area has a mixture of table sizes – some are small with stools, others are larger with sofa placed around them, all of which are comfortable. The menu seems to be quite varied, with some of the dishes being offered in smaller portions as starters which is a good idea. I’ve been in a few times for food – I was impressed the first time, but each time I’ve returned, I have been less impressed with what I have ordered. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, and I didn’t get sick or anything, I just felt that despite putting some fancy food on the menu, it was quite bland, and that they should stick with doing the simple things well. I am quite adventurous when it comes to food, but I would far rather have something simple done well (e.g. fish or steak etc.) than something a lot more complicated that’s bland, or not worth the money
(like the salmon fishcakes with mango syrup). The waitresses generally are very good giving you as much time as you need to decide, and order, as well as serving drinks when needed, although sometimes when it is very busy, they can be prone to forgetting about you for a while as they are dealing with many other customers. I’m notoriously fickle when it comes to eating out, and I’m hard pushed to be pleased when doing so, especially with the money some places are trying to charge. Apartment is no different, and generally, I think their food prices are slightly too high, although this depends on what you ordered from the menu – I had no qualms about paying the money for the steak I had whilst there, but was very disappointed with the salmon fishcakes and syrup. It’s quite a nice bar with a good atmosphere, and if you’re lucky enough to get a comfy sofa and a window seat, you get a great view of the front gardens of Belfast city hall, and with waitress service (I don’t know if it lasts into the evening), you don’t have to get up once you sit down! Excellent! All in all, not a bad bar at all, but I think they should consider making their menu a touch less “fancy”.
This place is classy, very classy. As an eighteen year old going to this place, I didn't half get the impression that the only reason I got through the door was that I work next door and the doormen know me. The crowd is young professional, who come dressed for a night out in their suits and the like. They stock a large range of cocktails, as well as the ordinary drinks which do not seem to be over priced. The one thing I would say is, this place seems to be packed, so you do need to get down early if you fancy having a table to sit at, and it is not unknown for queues to form just to get through the door.