32 O’Connell St, Sligo 071-9141575 knoxsligo.ie/ ¤¤
I head to Knox for breakfast, enjoying the reclaimed wood and over-sized light bulb aesthetic of its fittings. I soon see that Knox is not just a pretty face, but that there is real substance in their offering. Before I even get fed I’m charmed by the cheery waiter, who holds his own while singing along to tunes from Future Islands and London Grammar playing on the café’s stereo.
Patrick Sweeney and David Dunne opened Knox in May 2015, after leaving their careers in banking to follow their dream of opening a food business. Their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, and they won Best Café in Sligo in the Connaught round of the Irish Restaurant Awards earlier this year.
The kitchen team is led by Shane Meehan and Kai Puls, and their cakes and muffins are baked by Stacy McGowan. Knox St was what O’Connell St was known pre-1920, and the original street sign hangs on the wall of the café, a present from a customer who unearthed it for Sweeney and Dunne.
The duo launched a bistro-style evening menu in October 2015 but have since redirected their nighttime offering in the direction of tapas, which feels more in keeping with the informal style of the business. Served from 6pm to 10pm, Thursday through Saturday, the menu is economically priced and includes tapas stalwarts such as charcuterie boards (¤12) alongside inventive specials such as plates of scallops with crispy chicken skin and bites of ham hock terrine.
For breakfast, I go for a pot of crunchy house granola (¤4.50). It’s generous in size and the proportion of granola to yogurt and fruit is well judged. It’s an example of the substance behind pleasant presentation at Knox. I also indulge in the heartier option of the Sligo Breakfast Bap (¤7), which is madeup of a meat patty made for Knox by Sheerin’s Butchers in Ballymoate. Also between the bap are slices of Sheerin’s bacon, which are of ample thickness and abundant flavour.
I felt the coffee could be improved. Though it’s made with Grumpy Mule beans, a UK-based roastery of good repute, I wonder if a roaster closer to home, such as Badger & Dodo in Cork or Dublin’s 3FE, would fit in more with Knox’s food offering, but this may be my personal coffee patriotism kicking in.
Overall, I admire what Sweeney and Dunne have done. They’ve taken their experiences as customers and applied it to their own space, by sourcing good produce and bringing in culinary talent such as McGowan, whose muffins are worth writing home about. Keep Knox in mind for your next Sligo-based breakfast, lunch or dinner.