Fans of the Maher family’s famous Carrick pub, The Oarsman, will need no persuasion to take a small diversion off the main Sligo road to investigate Conor and Ronan Maher’s café at Ardcarne Garden Centre, near Boyle - and garden lovers will be in heaven anyway, as it’s a destination garden centre (and a specialist listed by RHS Plantfinder).
Open since July 2013, the café is a lovely bright and colourful light-filled space with a mature olive tree as its centre piece and beautiful murals by photographer Mike Bunn, who is very well known in the area.
The evocative ‘Bluebell Wood’, taken in nearby Oakport Forest, is a reminder of the unspoilt beauty of the local woodland, while the collage of ten vegetables and flowers should inspire everyone who passes through here to go home and grow something.
The café faces right on to the main plant area in the garden centre so it feels as if it's in a big garden and, with well spaced chunky wooden tables and comfortable chairs, it’s a lovely setting for The Oarsman’s famously wholesome, homemade food that showcases some of the best artisan produce from around Ireland.
At lunchtime, freshly made soups come with home baked breads, and the choice of open sandwiches might include smoked Knockanore cheese from West Waterford, served on a blaaguette (that’s one to ‘Just Ask’ them about!) with tomato chutney, apple & gherkin - and there’s the option of gorgeous salad sides with any dish, including a moreish smoked ham hock & cabbage terrine...
And then of course, if you’re just popping in for a cuppa (try the single estate Ethiopian coffee), there are gorgeous home bakes to help the day along - and all the breads and bakes treats are on sale to take home for later too.