SLIGO

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Bridge Street Sligo sweet­beat.ie ¤ AMcE AMcE

Can­teen

30 Mal­low St, Lim­er­ick weare­can­teen.com ¤ I’m sit­ting at a counter in a small café, just off Lim­er­ick City’s main thor­ough­fare. The sun streams in, shin­ing a spot­light on a wooden tray in front of me hold­ing a plump, moist blue­berry muf­fin (¤3.50), freshly baked in-house, and a pe­tite flat white (¤2.80), made with Badger and Dodo cof­fee and served in a small 7oz cup, just as I like it.

Opened three years ago by Paul Wil­liams, the mis­sion of Can­teen is to serve hon­est fast food. For lunch, there are wraps, sal­ads and hearty meals such as the Amaz­ing Or­ganic Meat­balls (¤9) lunch box. I choose a lunch box of a Per­sian Stew (¤8.50), a light vege­tar­ian stew served with cous­cous. I’m glad I’ve or­dered the ex­cel­lent house-made dukkah (50c) as a top­ping, as it gives the stew a wel­come per­son­al­ity boost. The staff re­ally make my visit. Barista Dal­ton knows ev­ery­thing about the menu and his cof­fee is flaw­less.

Wait­ress Tif­fany de­liv­ers attentive ser­vice. I’m im­pressed at how well they com­mu­ni­cate the ethos of Can­teen. A great spot for cof­fee and a per­fect blue­berry muf­fin, or some­thing more sub­stan­tial.

Sweet Beat Café

at­tached­toit. But­plant-based al­sore­flectswhatwedo.The­fact thatweuse­honeyin some­o­four bakingan­drecipes­mean­sweare no­tac­tu­al­lyve­gan. Our­menuis 90per centve­gan.” For­lunch, I choosetheSweet­Beat3in1 (¤10.95).It’s aplate oftheir daily sal­adan­dacupoftheirdai­lysoup -to­day’sis­bul­gar­wheatwith but­ter­beansand­but­ter­nut squash, al­sothekey in­gre­di­entin the­soup.

Thereisa dol­lopofchilliand co­rian­der­hum­mus,andafew slice­soflight­lyp­ick­led­cu­cum­ber­son­top. The­breadis­toasted and­topped with­av­o­cado.In­stead of­cof­fee, Iopt­fora gin­gerke­fir (¤3.50)which­hasadel­i­cate­fizz and­just­therigh­ta­mountof­spicy gin­ger­ness.

Miso Sligo

Calry Court Stephen’s St, Sligo face­book.com/mis­osligo ¤¤ Head Chef and owner Nae Young Jung brings out our Kim­chi Jeon ( ¤7.50), a large savoury pan­cake, pan-fried and draw­ing on the flavours of kim­chi, the spicy fer­mented cab­bage that ac­com­pa­nies most Korean meals. It’s sticky and spicy in all the right spots. I’m be­yond pleased when my Bibim­bap (¤13.50 with an egg) ar­rives with my very own squeezy bot­tle of spicy sauce, laced with gochu­jang. The suc­cess of a bibam­bap – a bowl of rice and freshly shred­ded veg­eta­bles that can come with beef or tofu – re­lies on a large dose of the spicy sauce so be gen­er­ous.

The op­tional egg on top ar­rives cooked with a soft yolk, in­stead of a raw egg that gets cooked by the siz­zling hot stone bowl in my favoured in­car­na­tion of this dish. I miss the sticky crispi­ness that this serv­ing tech­nique brings to a bibam­bap, but it’s a grat­i­fy­ing din­ner nonethe­less.

The Ja­panese in­flu­ence on the menu is largely des­ig­nated to the sushi sec­tion, while the larger meals in­clude Korean favourites such as beef bul­gogi (¤17.50) galbi jeongsik (¤19.50), and my afore­men­tioned bibam­bap.

The menu seems pretty set but they keep things in­ter­est­ing by chang­ing their roll of the day ev­ery day. In April, that meant an im­pres­sive dis­play of lob­ster sushi roll served in a lob­ster shell.

They source their fish locally from Killy­begs and the silky fish in the Tuna Roll (¤10.50) is a tes­ta­ment to fresh­ness.

Knox

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 bistrostyle 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 made up 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 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..

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