Jane and Myles Lamberth's gorgeously pretty little café right on the seafront is first port of call for many a regular visitor to Strandhill, and it’s easy to see why.
An outside seating area at the front provides the perfect perch for people-watching and enjoying the view while you enjoy some delicious home cooking, or simply sip a glass of wine or a cup of organic fairtrade coffee prepared by a trained barista.
Indoors it’s cosy and pretty with an Ireland-meets-New England feel and, as well as a welcoming atmosphere, there’s an obvious pride in using and producing the best. The menu begins with a sourcing and quality statement, and first time visitors will be happy to see that locally sourced foods are used as much as possible (including organically grown herbs from their own garden), all eggs are free range and the meat is Irish.
All breads are baked in-house too – along with the other baked treats on the menu, like scones (served with butter and homemade jam), lemon square, apple tart, gooey carrot cake and a luscious chocolate cake that’s also coeliac friendly.
Accompanying drinks include homemade lemonade, and fresh orange juice as well as smoothies, organic coffees and a range of teas including Voya herbal (from the famous spa and seaweed baths next door).
But, although the bakery is special – and Afternoon Tea is a big treat here – there’s more to Shells than just a tea shop, and the menus offered for breakfast, lunch and (on Friday and Saturday) dinner, are surprisingly extensive.
At lunchtime, for example, in addition to the half dozen or so ‘Light Plates’ available all day (soups; sandwiches - toasted, or open on thick cut bread, with gluten free bread available; salads; salmon plate…), there are options ranging from the House Burger or Ultimate Burger (or indeed the ‘No Beef Burger!), to slow cooked lamb stew or Shells Café Fish & Chips. And there’s a cute Kids Korner too, offering the likes of Cowboy burger & chips, or Bo Peep lamb stew.
Takeaway is also available – very handy for visitors self-catering in the area – occasion cakes can be baked to order, and they've opened a shop next door too. All round, a great little spot.
* Jane and Myles Lamberth have even found time to publish a book :"The Surf Café Cookbook" ('Contemporary Irish cooking with a soupcon of salty air'), €19.99. Details from www.thesurfcafecookbook.com.