Menu Madness

Me and my uni ones were going for brunch on Friday (standard millennial girl behaviour). We (FINALLY, after a lot of veto’s) decided to go on the Wednesday, and within minutes we were all checking the menu and pre planning what we might get.

Once we got there, it still took us about 15 minutes to decide what we wanted. So imagine how long it’d take if we’d never seen the menus before, we’d still be sitting there now like.

And we’re sure as hell not the only ones. Everyone does it. Find out where you’re going, go online and download the menu. It’s the norm really.

I used to judge people who knew what they were going to order for lunch like 3 days before they went. I thought, “how do you know what you want? Why not just see what you feel like at the time?” That’s what I did. I just rocked up and chose what I fancied. So next time an interviewer asks me about taking risks, you can bet what example I’m gonna whack out.

I don’t know when exactly I moved to the dark side and started downloading PDFs left, right and centre. But to be fair, I really struggle with decisions so the whole hassle of actually CHOOSING one thing over the other 48 on the menu is a bit of a 20 minute stress-infused ordeal.

Plus, I’d be so distracted at trying to choose that I neglect the company I’m with and don’t speak to them. So you can imagine why pre-deciding and avoiding a 20-minute silence isn’t a bad idea for someone like me. I’m doing my brain, my amigos AND the poor waiter all a favour.

It’s sort of like a “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” kinda scenario.
We’ve all had those times where the waiter keeps coming over and you’re still not ready to order so you panic and choose the first thing you see or lapse into “chicken goujons and chips”. So maybe if you had’ve seen the menu before, you’d have gone for something a lil more exciting and worth the £18.

Me when the waiter comes over

Now, I don’t choose EXACTLY what I want, unless there’s only one thing I actually like on the menu. I normally narrow it down to like 2 things I might go and then “see how I feel” when I get there. Not that it’s exactly hard to narrow it down when you’re THIS fussy.

Even if I’m not even planning to go to a certain place anytime soon, I still have a wee jook and see what they do; just in case I ever do take a notion. I’m THAT sad, I know. But I’m not the only one, I refuse to believe it so I’m gonna generalise and say this is a SWEEPING TREND.

So why do we (yes, WE) bother? What’s the point of looking at a menu of somewhere we’re not even going to?

1. To see the food
Duh. “Italian” – okay does that mean pizza? Lasagne? Fancy twirly pasta? What if I don’t want any of them? Is there something like normal? What about vegans/vegetarians and other fussy creatures?

2. To see the names
I want to see how posh this place is. Is it “salmon and cream cheese bagel” or “free range, organic, hand-caught Scottish salmon, with organic, hand-churned cream cheese on home-made, circular dough with a hole in the middle, topped with honey-rolled sesame seeds“? I need to see if the place is as unfancy as me.

3. The price
Ah yes, probably the main reason for us students. Once I see “olives” as a starter for £5 you can bet your donkey I’m going to swiftly exit, delete and rule out THAT establishment.

4. For a wee nosey
Of course. Bitta dinner inspo, pass the time when you’re in the dentist waiting room, new place opened round the corner so you HAVE to suss it out.

Me when a new café opens

It’s not just that more people are jooking at more menus now. it’s that more menus are available now. Not having a menu online could be what makes someone choose another business over yours. Think about it. Why I would choose to go to a place when I don’t know what it serves or how much it costs; when I can easily go to another place where I can find it all out and avoid disappointment when I sit down and read the menu?

If I’m deciding between 2 places for dinner, the one with a menu I can read is gonna be the pick, hands down. I might like the food, drinks and price at the other place, but how do I know that if I can’t see what any of that is?

That’s the downside of businesses not having websites and opting for a wee Facebook page instead. There’s almost never a menu on them. Goddamnit. Photos, memes and competitions, great. But that doesn’t help me decide where to go for brunch now does it?

For someone like me who finds decisions and committment a stressful and MELTING task, having the ability to check, decide and then RELAX when I get to the food place is a beautiful gift.

So shoutout to the businesses who do have their menus readily available for a wee nosey, go rabh maith agat. And to the businesses who don’t, you just lost yourself a very valuable customer who orders tap water.

How Coffee Shops Saved My (Social) Life

This morning as I was on my way to get my daily coffee before work, my brother said something so outrageous that shocked me to my very core. “There’s too many coffee shops in Belfast.” It pains me to even type the words.

Once I had a chance to gather myself, I replied “Ammm, ain’t no such thing” (I’m very street like that).

He then went on to list some: Caffe Nero, Hotel Chocolat, Tim Horton’s, Bob & Bert’s, Pearl’s, Clements, Costa, Starbucks (all of which I’ve got loyalty cards for) as if that was too many?

It got me thinking, where would I be without all of these coffee shops? A lot better off financially yes. But also a LOT more tired, and a lot less social.

I’m a placement student, which means that my schedule doesn’t really sync up with any of my friends who are still at uni. They’re free during the day and out at night, I’m in work all day then in bed by 10pm most nights.

But there’s that glimmering, cappuccino coloured window between 5 and 7pm, after I’ve finished work and before they’ve to go home and start preing.

I mean, what can you do at 5pm? No one under the age of around 60 (no offence) has dinner that early, and going for “a drink” isn’t really an option.

Coffee. That’s what you do.

What do you do at 8am, when the shops are all still closed and you can’t exactly sit at your desk for an hour before work?

Coffee. That’s what you do.

After lectures and seminars to procrastinate actually doing uni work?

You guessed it- el caffe. (See how I’m mixing things up?)

Don’t get me wrong, I do love coffee. But for me its not about the drink; I go for coffee because I want to go somewhere nice and sit and catch up with my friends. Even those who hate coffee love going for coffee; there’s steamers, tea, weird flavoured lattes and those ridiculous drinks in Starbucks with a mountain of cream on top and another mountain of sugar inside.

I must admit, Belfast doesn’t have much when it comes to nightlife, everything sort of closes in the city centre at around 7pm (except the glorious night that is Thursday). But there’s always a light on in that Starbucks opposite Europa, or Tim Horton’s (yeah, we’ve got one of those now). Well, until 10pm when they close, but you know what I mean.

All of these coffee shops have actually really shaped my (and Belfast’s) social life.  They don’t just provide us with my daily dose of caffeine and free wifi (yay), they give us a place to sit with our friends and catch up on everything going on each other’s lives.

 

And it’s not just big multi-national chains, it’s wee small independent coffee shops and chains throughout the north of Ireland like Clements and Bob & Bert’s. I always try to go the local shops and give them a turn instead. If you think about, I’m basically a caffeine-fuelled modern-day Robin Hood.

I’m helping support the local high street -which God knows it needs all the help it can get after the Primark fire reduced footfall by 30%. And with amount of money I spend a week on a coffee, I’m probably single-handedly sustaining the local coffee industry.

Coffee shops are so important to Belfast. We need somewhere to sit have a good chat- and God knows we need caffeine. Coffee’s what we drink, it’s what we do, it’s who we are.

So, I’ll raise my skinny cappuccino and toast to the coffee shops of Belfast, “thank you”.