“ Basement, 42 Botanic Avenue. Tel: +44 (0)1232 249 276. Monday: Johnny Hero's Pop & Trivia Quiz; Tuesday: The Empire Laughs Back - COMEDY CLUB; Wednesday: Chigago Nights with The Untouchables Admission: £3; Friday: Red Hot Roosters; Saturday: Strictly „
Following being out at the Empire Bar in Belfast last night I thought that I should review it today.
The Empire Bar is in Botanic Avenue in Belfast near to the central hub of Belfast nightlife. The Empire is in a great location and you will always find a taxi nearby, a hotel to stay in and fast food late at night!
The Empire is split into two Bars, the larger of the two bars is upstairs in the building and is very impressive. This bar has a large stage at the front and hosts comedy nights and 70s and 80s nights. The upper bar is very popular and at the weekend you should either arrive early or expect to queue for a short time.
Last night I was in the lower bar. This bar is a bit dungeon like and is very dark however also very cosy! There is a small smoking area outside the front door and there is normally quite a substantial beer garden where you can smoke, unfortunately this is under renovation at present however a smoking area (small as it is) is still provided.
Last night I went to see a local band playing, (The Arms of Venus De Milo). The band themselves were fantastic and the sound was great. The band started playing around 10.30 and finished at 1am. For this privilege I paid an admission fee of £3.00 which I thought was very reasonable for a nights great entertainment.
As usual I rushed straight to the toilet when I arrived! The toilets are just beside the front door and there are three cubicles in the ladies. Last night one of the toilets were out of order so I did have to queue a few times but only for a short while. The toilets in general were preety clean however my mum did have to ask once for the toilet roll to be replaced, there was not a scrap to be seen - I hate this when it happens but it was replenished preety quickly.
This particular bar in the Empire is quite big and holds a traditional feel. Most of the seating would be traditional wood, stained in a very dark brown and this adds to the cosy feel. There is one long bar area at the left hand side of the room and there were always about three or four bar staff working so I always got served right away even though it was quite busy. The price of drink is around the same that you would pay anywhere in Belfast, £3.15 for a pint. The bar also stocks a god variety of drinks.
Beside the bar there is also a nice little feature, it is a large glass case dedicated to Jagermeister which states 'Our house wine is Jagermeister!' I found this a great addition to the bar and a great talking point.
There is a stage at the back wall in the room which is raised with lights shining down on it, the stage is quite a good size for a five piece band.
At the right had side of the room there is a raised balcony area with tables and chairs and wide window sills to sit on if the notion takes you.
The atmosphere in the Empire is very relaxed and I have always had a good night in it. The most common age range last night would of been over 25s and as I am 30 this suited me perfectly!
I will most certainly be returning to the Empire and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Belfast, it is a great laid back night out, the staff in the Empire are all very friendly and look out for The Arms of Venus De Milo as they were really good too!!
The Empire is a great bar, a Belfast tradition! It has a wide selection of events on on different nights and to be honest, most of them are very good. The atmosphere is always good, as it is normally busy enough in the evenings. Downstairs is quite dark, but the beer is very good and one of the few places in Belfast to do good Murphys.
The Monday night quiz that is held downstairs in the main bar with quizmaster Johnny Hero is great. The questions are challenging but not so difficult that you can not answer them or so easy to make it a waste of time. Good prizes (alcohol) and good craic, as it is usually popular with plenty of teams.
Tuesday has the ever popular comedy night. This is one of the best nights out you can have in Belfast, now that I am no longer a student I do not get to it as often and wish it were on a weekend night! One of the funniest nights I was there was when the comedian was not funny, as the abuse from the crowd was probably funnier than any matyerial I have heard! Good old Belfast banter.
The salsa night upstairs on a Friday is also very good fun and a great way to get close to members of the opposite sex without appearing sleazy! The instruction is good for beginners.
The Glamaram nights upstairs on Fridays are also great fun, they have people singing and dancing on stage and the place is packed out. reeally good atmosphere.
The Empire also has the added bonus of being a good venue for concerts, the acoustics are very good and if you are lucky enough to get a seat up at the balcony you have a cracking view of the stage
As far as I'm aware, this is the only comedy club in Belfast (although I can't be 100% sure of that). It's held on a Tuesday night in The Empire bar on Botanic Avenue, although it doesn't run all year round, it does have "seasons". They don't advertise the comedians that they have, it's a turn up and see affair, although anytime that I've been there, it's always packed. The comedians are a hit and miss affair - generally they are excellent, although I have seen a few just die onstage. On rare occasions the comedian will be someone fairly famous that you'll probably have seen on the telly at some point, but you won't know until you turn up! The last time I was there, the entrance was £4, and sneaking in before they set up the till at the door doesn't work either! They'll hunt you down and take your 4 quid as you sit at your table! If you want a seat, my advice is to get down early (before 8pm) because by the time the MC appears at about 9:30 it's standing room only. If you haven't been before, I suggest you find out when the next night is, and get yourself down sharpish, it's a really good night out. If you haven't been to a comedy night before, one word of warning though, if you dislike foul and abusive language, then you're in for a shock! The air is blue! The Empire also serves food. Generally, this is served from opening (i.e. 11:30am to around 8pm) and is quite good. I heartily recommend the Empire Feast which is a huge platter of ribs, chicken wings, battered mushrooms, potato wedges and 2 dips and is yummy! It's about £6, and well worth it. The atmosphere in the bar is generally very good, and as well as the comedy club mentioned above, a lot of live acts also play. The set list of bands changes monthly, but in each month, the same band will play on the same night i.e. one band will play each Saturday in the mon
th etc. If my memory serves correctly, it's one of the few bars not to have had a facelift in recent years – nearly every other mainstream bar has had at least 1 facelift in the last 10 years, but the Empire still maintains it's quiet, dark, but friendly atmosphere. A great pub.