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French. 78-80 Botanic Avenue, Belfast. Tel: 028 9024 2020

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      24.10.2001 18:40
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      My 'girlfriends' and I decided to go out for dinner as a change to the usual routine of pubs and clubs. We were planning to go to a new restaurant called Cafe Milano, but seeing the queue, we chickened out! So we headed for Botanic Avenue, the hub of Belfast's student heart, and also the location of quite a few restaurants, both affordable and classy. After some negiotations, in which I emphatically stated I did not like Mexican or Chinese, we decided to try Vincents. From the outside this restaurant looks very impressive; it's recently been done up and to say it is always hiving is an understatement. We were told that there would be at least an hour's wait for a table, but that we could sit and wait- and more importantly, drink while we were waiting! We sat down at a long table in the centre, which was nigh-on impossible whilst wearing a skirt, as there were long bench seats with no breaks in them. This provided a few laughs every time someone needed the loo. The waiter cracked open our wine, we began to drink- and so began our long wait... I think it was about an hour and a half later when we finally got a table- 10pm. (This would have been fine, if we didn't have a train to catch at 11.10pm!). We were given menus and ordered soon afterwards. The menus themselves were quite modern with colourful pages bound like notebooks. They stated an email address which showed the restaurant was in tune with the modern world. There was plenty on offer- starters included the usual things like Chicken Satay (which I had to avoid having a nut allergy!) and soup of the day, as well as some more exciting alternatives. For my main course I ordered a Normande Crepe which was basically chicken in a creamy sauce inside- yes you guessed it- a crepe. There was also Alsacienne Crepe which one of my friends ordered. Another ordered peppered steak which looked lovely. The main drawback was that side dishes were extra- all you got with your dish was a little salad on the plate. As I haven't frequented restaurants like this before, I don't know if this is the norm or not. SIde orders included garlic potatoes (yummy) and chips (of course). The food didn't take too long to come, but as we were pushed for time, 10.40pm was a little too late! The four of us had to gobble it down which was easier said than done as we were all a little pissed by this time too! We paid quickly and left to run for the train- luckily we got to the station with five minutes to spare. Overall I was impressed with Vincents. The fact that it took so long to get seated and then served reflects how popular the restaurant is. It was slightly naive of us going in at 8.30pm and expecting to catch a train just after 11pm. I would definately go back- the food was excellent, the staff friendly and the general atmosphere was 'hip but laid back'. The toilet facilities were good- the ladies were nicely decorated in purple, carrying on a theme throughout the restaurant. The prices are fairly reasonable- each of us paid £10, although we had brought our own wine. Next time however I will allow for more time so that I can relax- and not get indigestion!

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