WHEN you have specialised in a certain art for so long, it can be hard to shirk tradition and embrace the future. The truth is, most bars and restaurants are moving the same way in order to remain appealing to a wider audience.

If you have a penchant for craft ale or televising sports fixtures, you are bound to attract a loyal following, but eventually the format wears thin and a rebrand is needed.

That is precisely the reality to hit O'Neill's, which is why the popular Irish eatery spent thousands of pounds rejuvenating the interior and making significant improvements to the quality and range of food available.

I took advantage of ordering three starters for £12, including loaded potato skins, chicken goujons and my personal favourite, smoked haddock croquettes.

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I soon realised I had - as the saying goes - eyes bigger than my belly and the prospect of being able to justify a desert already appeared a distant possibility.

By the time we had finished and been greeted with a mixed grill and rack of sticky glazed pork ribs, that possibility had dissolved and my state of denial wavered.

My server Peter was proud to be part of the new-look Friar Street pub and spoke confidently about the selection of food and drink, remaining an attentive presence throughout the evening.

Luke Tamplin, assistant manager, admits the business had become tired and needed a change despite having a loyal following for the popular events, such as St Patrick's Day.

He said: "I have seen the before and after. We were struggling to attract new people and it looked tired.

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"It has always been well-known for sport and music, but even those aspects were starting to drag. A lot of other places have had big refurbishments so we decided to rebrand and our focus has shifted to attract to everyone.

"The biggest measure of success, as always, is the feedback we get and so far people seem to have taken to it quite well.

"St Patrick's Day remains a big event for us and we will be going bigger than ever this year. The rebrand is about making sure everything we offer is as good as it can be. If we are going to serve food, there is no point in giving the customer something we are not proud of."

This might not be fine dining - and I would not try to convince you it is - but for the price you pay you get incredible value and the opportunity to indulge in home comforts, all while sampling speciality beer, with Sky Sports and the best hits of Oasis in the background. It might just be my personal preference, but that is an enticing package for a Wednesday evening.