The seafront tends to claim the attention of visitors to this small resort town as its shore road, which is part of a scenic lough and mountain drive (A2), commands impressive views over Carlingford Lough. But it is well worth looking beyond the seafront, as there is another treat in store just up the hill behind the town.
In a pretty Victorian style house beside the entrance to Annetts (fantastic) garden centre, and sharing its carpark, Nuala King’s delightful café is very popular with visitors to the garden centre but it has also become a destination in itself.
Although purpose built, the house has the charm of an older building, with a stove in a big stone fireplace warming the ground floor - which is set up with chunky furniture and also has patio doors out onto a paved seating area for sunny days - and the first floor, a high ceilinged space with open beams, can be hired for private parties. It’s well thought out, and so is the food.
The day begins well, with a lovely breakfast menu offering everything from the traditional cooked breakfast (vegetarian option offered) to pancakes or French toast with bacon and maple syrup, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs or freshly baked scones with jam and butter - good home baking is a big draw and the tempting display of goodies will catch your eye as soon as you come in...
A lunch/afternoon menu offers the likes of homemade soup, salads, wraps, speciality sandwiches and hot blackboard specials - which include a traditional roast on Sundays - and, on Friday and Saturday, longer opening hours and a change of style for the evening allow the chef to flex his culinary muscles with both an early bird and an à la carte.
While everything is freshly made throughout the day (and special diets can be catered for), the evening menus also give some provenance, perhaps including Walter Ewing’s salmon, St Tola goats cheese and rare breed pork.
The staff are lovely too and it’s no wonder Sweet Pea Café has proved such a hit - with good food and such a lovely setting, what’s not to like?