Review: The Other Place

Food trends come, food trends go... And restaurants appear and disappear alongside those trends. It takes something else entirely to establish yourself as a fixture.

Of course some times, longevity can lead to laziness, but as standards and expectations rise all around, a lazy restaurant really won't last very long. The Other Place has been well established on Belfast's Botanic Avenue for a very long time – opened in 1992 no less – and continues to thrive, now more than ever with new management in place.

The first thing to note is the bright and cheerful refurbishment the restaurant has undergone. Gone is the heavy black exterior and bare brick walls inside. Not that this was ever bad, the restaurant always had a welcoming glow from the complimentary lighting, like a beacon gently glowing on upper Botanic. But now, freshly painted in various shades of blue and turquoise, the Other Place feels bright and clean. I liked the bare brick, but the new paint job really brings the place to life and it feels no less comforting.

Now, it has been a little while since I have eaten here – only virtue of moving away from the area – but the I don't see much change to menu, just additions and tasty sounding tweaks. They offer a lot of options, which I know for some people can almost be a put off – one of the aforementioned trends has been the rise of specialty places, offering just a few variations along its theme – but here's the thing to remember, 25 years is plenty of time to properly perfect a menu that appeals to a wide range of tastes and desires; and this is something the Other Places excels at.

When I visited, the places was busy but didn't at all appear to be struggling to cope with its many diners. My two young children in tow, we where quickly seated by a super-friendly waitress; I was offered a highchair for my youngest, but knowing he would spend the entire time testing the contraptions ability to contain him, I opted to keep him next to me. Surprisingly, he managed to control himself and we all got through our meal without it ending up on his head as he ran screaming through the kitchen...

While it was well into lunchtime when we arrived, having gotten home very late the night before only to be woken at silly o'clock by my children, the all-day breakfast menu was calling to me.

Struggling to choose what I really wanted – I wanted the 'Top Mega Fry', but I also wanted french toast and maybe even an omelette... This was were having my children with me really paid off, I got to spread all my choices across the three of us! Because as is always the way, the children wanted to eat my food, as much as their own, just because it was my food. Well, everyone was a winner, but I wanted their food as much as my own.

Feeling all European, we gladly ate from each others plates, sharing all that we had communally and it was, in a word, glorious.

The slogan states "Always the best, cooked from fresh!", and in this day and age (yes, I'm talking about peoples ability to cast their immediate judgement in an online rant) this is not a claim any restaurant can make without being able to back it up. Any restaurant brave enough to put something like that on their menu, has to be able to back it up. I, for one, believe them.

The Other Place is a Botanic Avenue staple. Yes, it is surrounded by a lot of other options, most trying to ride whatever trendy wave is cresting that month, but... There is a reason that the Other Place has outlasted the majority of them, and will likely continue to do so. It's is good food, backed by great staff, in an inviting setting. We weren't rushed from out seats, despite the busy afternoon trade. The staff couldn't have been more helpful, especially to someone with noisy children pushing their luck – milkshakes do wonders for taming bad behaviour!

I have enjoyed the Other Place every time I've been in, this was the first time in under the new management, and it seems to me they have done nothing but improve what was already pretty great.

The Other Place can be found at 79 Botanic Avenue and is open from 9 to 9 everyday. Find them on Facebook - @Topbotanic

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