Here in the village of Lisbane, close to the shores of Strangford Lough, one of County Down’s prettiest little treasures is to be found at the thatch-roofed Old Post Office, which dates back to the 1840’s.
Having lain derelict for many years, this listed building has been caringly restored and it now makes a charming home for Trevor and Alison Smylie’s tea rooms and gift shop.
Trevor has years of experience as a baker and pastry chef in Australia and the U.K. under his belt, and is now responsible for producing all the mouth watering scones, gateaux, pies and tarts which can be enjoyed in the three atmospheric tea rooms, each with its own cosy peat fire.
And, in fine weather, eating outside is always a treat, whether in the courtyard garden or by the lily pond where the gentle scent of the nearby herb garden wafts on the air.
As well as breakfast, teas, coffees and light snacks, wholesome lunch dishes such as salmon and asparagus quiche or chicken and broccoli bake with salad are available (with a big slice of tangy lemon meringue pie to follow, perhaps), and a take away service is also offered.
And, while it is mainly for their good home cooking that regulars flock to the Tea Rooms, it’s also a place to drop into for an unusual gift, as they stock a good range of Irish products (many of them locally made) in the shop, and also paintings by local artists.