Umi Falafel

Where: 96 Botanic Ave, Belfast BT7 1JR

What: Lebanese-style casual dining recently opened in Belfast – they also have restaurants in Dublin and Cork.

Prices: Most sandwiches and sides are between £4-5.

Vegan menu: Everything at Umi is vegetarian but not necessarily vegan. That said, there’s a decent selection of vegan stuff – various falafels in wraps/pitta, salads like tabouleh and fatoush, a nice lentil soup, potato wedges, spinach rolls etc. No vegan desserts.

Drinks: Some really nice and unusual juices along with the normal selection of soft drinks/water/coffee – I love the mint lemonade!

Service: Staff are usually on the ball and seat you as soon as you get in. I’ve had forgotten items more than once but I’m not sure if that was from the kitchen or not – either way it quickly appeared and was taken off my bill at the end so not much to complain about.

Comfortable? Some of the seats are kind of padded bench style with nothing between you and the group behind – I personally don’t mind this as it’s not the kind of place I’d linger in. It can get a bit noisy at peak times.

Was the food good? The falafel sandwiches are lovely, portions are really good for the price, some of the sides could be better (spinach rolls and vine leaves I find slightly bland) but overall I really like it.

My advice to the chef: More care with orders (although I appreciate it’s probably constantly busy) and improve the recipes for the above mentioned sides.

My advice to the manager: Extended opening hours would be nice – most places on Botanic are open until 10pm. More vegan options would be cool, some of the salads have cheese which seems a bit unnecessary. Otherwise great job, I really like this place.

Overall: Quick, tasty and filling, great for lunch or a post-work snack.

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