Set smack bang on the historic town square in the North Down village of Comber, Peter and Emma McCleery's attractive café bistro has earned a loyal following since opening in 2006. It’s warm, friendly and casual - but the food is taken seriously and, under the personal management of the owners, standards are maintained so there is consistency even if there are staff changes.
Head Chef Carla Schofield is passionate about seasonality and local produce, much of which comes from a radius of less than 50 miles. While keeping an eye out for new local ingredients like Young Buck blue cheese, she’s also loyal to established suppliers like Walter Ewing (fish) and Peter Hannan (meat).
This is potato country and no menu is without the famous local Comber spuds, but the seafood around here is pretty special too so you may expect both to feature prominently in exciting menus that offer a perfect balance of the traditional and the more exotic.
Menus change regularly but Ewings seafood chowder and Co Antrim chicken liver pate with fruit chutney and toasted brioche are familiar favourites among the starters, for example, along with mains like Hannan's minute steak sandwich (with sirloin steak, or Co Antrim pork fillet on the bistro menu).
More unusually, you are likely to find goat on the menu here - tomato braised "Tynedale" kid goat meatballs, with roast peppers and harissa toast, perhaps), while an excellent poultry speciality is a fresh tasting peanut chilli chicken; served with sambal rice, mouli, carrot and pak choi, it has wonderfully deeply flavoured sauce.
Copeland Island crab salad (with a classic Marie Rose sauce) would be very tempting in season, also locally caught mackerel (with ginger and garlic broccoli, soy noodles, pickled ginger and chilli dressing, perhaps).
Glastry farm ice creams accompany many of the homemade desserts, which may include an attractive melba sundae with peach compote, raspberry jelly and coulis, served in a retro glass. Home baking is another strength, and it's a lovely place to drop into for a scone and a cup of Suki tea (or a very good coffee).
The middle of the road wine list is well suited to casual dining and it's good to see local non-alcoholic alternatives, like Armagh apple juice, available as well.
Service is excellent - helpful and efficient - and prices are very reasonable, especially considering the generous portion sizes. Good happy hour specials are offered and and meal deals for dinner (Wed-Sun).
So what's not to like - this is a great place all round. They seem to achieve the impossible, by successfully being all things to all people.