23 Aug Revisiting East Belfast’s C.S Lewis Cafe: The Lamppost
When walking the streets of Belfast, as I often do – living here and that – I find myself frequently mulling over what it might be like visiting this city as a tourist. Like many tourists’ stays, I imagine it would be pretty concentrated in the city centre and South Belfast. Yet, I’ve come to realise that there’s a lot more to discover in this city beyond these popular spots.
Moving into East Belfast over a year ago introduced me to a lot of great local restaurants, cafes and bars I didn’t previously know about. The apartment I lived in last year was in the close vicinity of the Belmont Road: a thriving foodie haven. And, just a five minute drive was another locally well renowned foodie haven: Ballyhackamore.
Sure, there’s plenty of choice hitting up the city centre and a bit more hustle and bustle. Yet, there’s just something infinitely more satisfying in finding a great restaurant or cafe that’s close to home. I actually feel quite spoilt for choice in the East.
So, whenever I heard back in January that one of my favourite East Belfast cafes, The Lamppost, was shutting due to financial difficulties, I was pretty gutted. A frequent weekend haunt of Scott & I, they put together a mean fry and were just a five minute walk away – perfect for lazy weekends when hitting up the city centre just isn’t happening. Oh, and there’s also the small matter of it being C.S LEWIS/NARNIA THEMED.
Maybe you’re wondering what the deal is with the this. Does C.S Lewis have any sort of significance to East Belfast? I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that C.S Lewis was born in Belfast and grew up in East Belfast’s Dundela Avenue and Circular Road. That magical universe that has captivated the imaginations of children and adults alike for over sixty years? Inspired by Northern Ireland. And well before Game of Thrones made it cool (much of Winterfell was filmed in Northern Ireland. And we’re all insanely proud of it.)
“I have seen landscapes, notably in the Mourne Mountains and southwards which under a particular light made me feel that at any moment a giant might raise his head over the next ridge,” – C.S Lewis, On Stories
So, you get why losing The Lamppost just felt so wrong. Especially after the enchanting C.S Lewis Square opened last November, just a five minute walk away.
Fast forward seven months however and The Lamppost is refurbished and back open for business under new ownership. Saturday afternoon marked my excited return for a spot of tea and lunch – and obviously far too many photos.
The Lamppost is located on the Newtownards road close to Connswater Shopping Centre and Hollywood Arches. It’s very easy to spot. Look for eye catching silver outer decor, a shabby chic style bike, and rustic overhanging branches. Oh – and the olden style lamppost.
I ordered myself a sausage and egg bap because what else would I be having on a Saturday afternoon? I was a particular fan of their scrambled egg and I’m happy to report that it’s still delish.
It’s one of those intimate cafes that feels as though you’re stepping foot into someone’s house. There’s a bit of trepidation at first followed by a warm greeting and a cosy setting. It’s the ideal spot to unwind with a book and a hot beverage while the rain pours outside. Well, that was certainly the case whenever we visited. I could have stayed put and avoided the rain for as long as possible. Unfortunately though, we had to go run some errands.
It was nice to see that the cafe hadn’t changed too dramatically. Just a few tweaks to brighten the place up. Like the addition of a bar/counter area, brighter colours, more florals and more decoration around the fireplace (which I didn’t even notice on visits before the renovation). The old wooden dresser, adorned with cute trinkets, was one thing I was sad to see gone. And also the beloved literary staircase. To provide a bit of context – the staircase up to the toilets used to have famous book titles painted on each step in bright colours, but it sadly seems to be painted over now. Maybe they’ll be updating that too in the future – I hope so, it was so eye-catching as you walked in the door.
I’ve only ever really thought of the city centre and South Belfast to be the tourist-y parts of the city but more and more I’m noticing tour buses driving through the East of the city. I could easily see The Lamppost becoming a bit of a tourist hotspot after a stroll through C.S Lewis Square – visit quick so that you can say you were there before it became cool.