The Pocket

An over-sized pocket-watch, part of the Alice in Wonderland theme, which hangs on the wall by the door at The Pocket in Belfast.The Pocket, in Belfast, is south of the city centre, down on University Road, opposite Queen’s University. It was one of the places that practically everyone said I should visit, a quirky little spot with some great outdoor seating and an Alice in Wonderland inspired theme, although it’s fairly subtle, so you could miss it if you’re not paying attention.

Although it’s relatively small, there’s a large kitchen tucked away down a corridor at the back which produces a concise but impressive brunch menu, served until four o’clock, while it’s joined by lunch from eleven in the morning. There are also a wide selection of cakes, including some awesome doughnuts, if you want something sweeter.

When it comes to coffee, The Pocket serves only single-origins. There are two options on espresso and one on bulk-brew, all of which change on a monthly basis or sooner if The Pocket runs out. The coffee mostly come from Dublin’s 3FE, although fellow Dublin roasters, Cloud Picker, occasionally makes an appearance on the second grinder. There’s a range of loose-leaf teas from Bristol’s Canton Tea Co served in individual infusers and an egg-timer so you know when it’s done.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On University Road, south of Belfast city centre, you'll find this row of brick terraces...
  • ... where your eye is caught by the bright yellow tabes/chairs out front.
  • This is the view from the other direction, heading into the centre of town.
  • The gateway, which gives access to the outdoor seating, is on this side.
  • I did like the message on the A-board.
  • In case you're wonderinng, this is The Pocket, by the way. Neat logo.
  • The doorway is directly ahead of the gate, also on the left-hand side, and leads to a hall.
  • Upstairs is a letting agent, but we want the door to the right. Reassuring sign!
  • The door deposits you in the corner at the front on the left.
  • There's this little corner seat immediately to the left of the door...
  • ... while a pair of three-person window-bars occupy the two windows at the front.
  • There's this one to the right of the door...
  • ... and this one, slightly more cramped, on the far side.
  • The rest of the seating is between the windows at the front and the counter at the back.
  • Another bar runs along the exposed brick of the right-hand wall.
  • It follows the contours of the wall, which results in this cosy little niche.
  • Three tables, a four-person table flanked by two two-person ones, run down the centre.
  • The Pocket narrows a little at the back, where you'll find the counter...
  • ... which is where you go to order your coffee/food.
  • The view of the compact interior of The Pocket, looking back from the counter.
  • One of the (many) nice things about The Pocket is the view from the windows at the front.
  • You can look out over the outdoor seating and across the road to Queen's University.
  • Talking about the windows, they provide some lovely reflections for the light bulbs...
  • ... which rather captivated me.
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of The Pocket, these beauties hang over the counter.
  • This beauty is hidden away in the niche on the right-hand wall.
  • There are fat light bulbs...
  • ... and thin light bulbs...
  • ... and even ones with lamp shades.
  • The Pocket is named after the White Rabbit's pocket watch from Alice in Wonderland.
  • There's a definite Alice theme going on, with pages from the book on the left-hand wall.
  • More Alice, this time in the shape of Humpty Dumpty, on a shelf above a door at the back.
  • More decoration from the walls. This time it's The Pocket's logo.
  • Nice water station!
  • To business and the counter at the back.
  • There's a doorway at the back on the left, by the way...
  • ... which leads down a long corridor to a surprisingly large kitchen at the back.
  • The counter, meanwhile, is L-shaped, with the coffee on the right...
  • ... and the menus above, although they are hard to get a good picture of...
  • ... because of the positioning of the light bulbs. They are perfectly easy to read though!
  • The brunch menu, meanwhile, is on the counter (and on the tables).
  • The aforementioned specials from the food menu.
  • The right-hand part lists the coffee available on espresso and bulk-brew filter.
  • There's also a big display case in the middle of the counter which is packed full of cakes!
  • A small retail section includes reusable cups and retail bags from Dublin's Cloud Picker.
  • This, meanwhile, is The Pocket's supply, all from Dublin's venerable 3FE.
  • I've seen coffee pre-dosed before now, but this is the first time I've seen it done with tea.
  • The Pocket has a lovely Black Eagle espresso machine & a couple of Mythos One grinders.
  • Black Eagles come in all sorts of colours, by the way, including The Pocket's bright yellow.
  • My flat white, served in a beautiful, classic blue cup...
  • ... which I paired with an awesome chocolate custard doughnut.
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Opening at the start of 2016, The Pocket came about because the owner, who manages a letting agency upstairs, wanted great coffee on site. So he converted the downstairs rom an office to a coffee shop and The Pocket was borne. The Alice in Wonderland theme is also the result of the owner’s influence since he’s a great Alice fan. Pages from the book are pasted on one of the walls, while an oversized pocket watch, after which the café is named, hangs just inside the door.

Occupying an old town house in a brick-built terraced row opposite Queen’s University, The Pocket has a generous seating area out front, fenced off from the busy road. There are four two-person tables arranged in a square, all painted with The Pocket’s bright yellow. There’s a good view of the university, but you do risk getting rained on. Alternatively, head inside and grab a seat at one of the three-person window-bars occupying the two large sash windows at the front. The view’s just as good, but there’s no traffic and you don’t get rained on!

To get inside, head past the outside seating to your right and go straight for the doorway ahead, which leads into a hallway with stairs up to the letting agent. The door to The Pocket, reassuringly adorned with “We’re All Mad Here” (Alice again), is on the right, depositing you in the front of the café, which stretches off to your left, where you’ll find the counter at the back.

Tall and thin, it’s perhaps twice as deep as it is wide and just as tall. As well as the aforementioned window bars, The Pocket packs a lot in. Immediately to the left of the door is a cosy, L-shaped bench with a table. A row of tables, a four-person one sandwiched between two two-person ones, runs up the centre, leaving space on the left for customers to get to and from the door/counter. Opposite this, running along the right-hand wall, are three two-person bars which follow the contours of the wall, leading to an indented niche in the middle.

It’s a nice, cosy space and, while I was there, everyone was in for brunch, so all the seats (except the bars on the right-hand wall) were taken, resulting in everyone and everything being on top of each other. The décor is lovely though, with wooden floorboards and furniture, along with white walls and ceiling, the exception being the right-hand wall, which is exposed brick.

The counter’s a simple affair, till on the left, cake in the centre and the bright yellow Black Eagle (there should be a law against Black Eagles being any other colour than black…) off to the side on the right, with the bulk-brew filter on the back wall. The coffee menu is handily-placed on the left-hand wall by the till, while the main menu is on the wall to the right.

My barista recommended the Ethiopian espresso (which was also on bulk-brew), which she said went well as a flat white and she was right. It was a lovely coffee, smooth and fruity, going well with the milk. I paired this with a chocolate custard doughnut. This was a light, fluffy doughnut, coated in plenty of sugar and with an awesome creamy filling.

December 2018: The Pocket was a runner-up for the 2018 Best Cake Award.

69 UNIVERSITY ROAD • BELFAST • BT7 1NF +44 (0) 7788 878525
Monday 08:00 – 17:30 Roaster 3FE (espresso + bulk-brew)
Tuesday 08:00 – 17:30 Seating Tables, Bars; Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 17:30 Food Breakfast, Lunch, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 17:30 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 17:30 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power Yes
Chain No Visits 4th March 2017

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