When Robert Doyle swapped his camera for a kitchen, photography’s loss turned out to be a definite gain for Wicklow town as he opened this small café near the river in 2009 - and, its merits quickly recognised, it earned a loyal following in no time.
Small and cosy, there are two rooms inside, mainly furnished with smart wooden tables and chairs. At one of the large windows, a couple of bar stools offer views to the outside.
A smaller windowed alcove in the back room has two very comfortable armchairs, again with street views, and there are outdoor tables on the pavement for fine weather too.
Laminated menus include the history of Wicklow’s most famous son, Captain Halpin and make interesting reading, and friendly staff are quick to explain blackboard specials and tempting treats in a display cabinet.
Food is contemporary, with a range of regular café food – sandwiches and panini – but with excellent ‘daily specials’ too. These might include shepherd’s pie or a goat’s cheese tart, or perhaps a beef and Guinness stew, all served with three fresh salads - and wonderful homemade bread merits special mention.
If you drop in for an afternoon coffee and cake you may find choices are difficult to make - fresh berry and almond tart, pavlova, chocolate cheesecake, for example, are all homemade and equally delicious.
Good value and interested, efficient service complete the picture. Halpin’s is a place to relax, enjoy good food and chat - and has obviously been discovered by locals. But for the rest of us, it’s well worth making a detour into Wickow to sample its delights.