Bang in the centre of Sligo Town and just a few doors away from their great traditional pub, Hargadons, Ray and Eileen Monahans’ striking three-storey corner building has brought a welcome new food focus to the town.
Originally built as part of their adjacent shopping centre, Johnston Court, the bright glass-fronted space now houses three complementary businesses, each reflecting a different aspect of the ideology behind Source - which, as the name implies, is a celebration of local foods and suppliers.
The style throughout has more than a hint of industrial chic, with exposed ducting hoses and other necessary workings blending in happily alongside a range of surfaces and materials that have a practical beauty – and, like the many food-related paintings and photographs on the walls, emphasise the focused nature of the building.
An attractive retail area offering artisan foods, fresh bakes and cookery books (and lots of information about activities at Source, and in the town) tempts passers by into the ground floor, which is shared by a large informal restaurant area and stairs leading up to the first floor wine bar – a chilled out space with a long bar and a variety of relaxed seating, including sofas and armchairs.
The ground floor of this three-storey eating (and drinking) emporium is open all day, beginning with breakfast and a menu that is many miles away from the traditional full Irish. Coffee (from a menu) and delicious cakes and pastries, all made on the premises, come next, followed by lunch – à la carte, plus daily specials, also 2- and 3-course lunch menus, at very keen prices.
Interesting soups are served with good bread; imaginative dishes all use seasonal local produce (some grown by the Monahans in their own polytunnel), and clever accompaniments lift simple dishes into the gourmet class. Fresh fish and meats are perfectly cooked, local cheeses served in tiptop condition and desserts are gorgeous (“chocolate bownies to die for”).
From five o’clock until late, the first floor wine and tapas bar opens with an enticing tapas menu and an excellent range of wines. And this is another string to the Monahans’ bow, as they not only have two ‘Hargadon Bros’ wine shops in Sligo and Dublin, but also now own vineyards in the Languedoc region of the South of France. So the range of wines offered here (and at Hargadons) will not only be interesting but, in some cases, unique.
Then, up on the top floor with views of Ben Bulben, you’ll find the cookery school. Run by Eithna O’Sullivan (whose marvellous seafood restaurant, that was a reason to visit Mullaghmore for many years, is still much missed), it is purpose built with space and stations for hands-on rather than just demonstration work, and courses are interesting and good value.
This is the most unusual aspect of the Source venture and, as word spreads, is making Sligo a serious destination for food lovers - the range offered includes certificate courses, ‘A Journey to Artisan Food Production’, for people who want to make their passion for food into a sustainable business.
There are many exceptional speciality producers, retailers and cooks in Sligo and the surrounding area, and Source is providing a focus which will help all of them to thrive and develop.
A must-visit place for foodies when travelling in the North-West – and also for music lovers, as Source Sligo makes a magnificent venue and events are frequently hosted here.