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Eating Out: You have to bring your own sausage rolls to Sweet Beat Café – but why on Earth would you?

The Sweet Beat Café – "This was one of the nicest meals I’ve had in absolute ages"
Dominic Kearney

Sweet Beat Café

Bridge Street

Sligo

sweetbeat.ie

MECHANICAL diggers, tip-up trucks, steamrollers, skips, hard hats, hi-vis jackets, orange barriers, temporary closures… it seemed every road and every pavement in the centre of Sligo was having some sort of work done to it.

The town looked slashed and scarred. Pedestrians scuttled through the rain, criss-crossing the streets whenever their way was barred, easily avoiding the cars inching in search of alternative routes.

The Sweet Beat Café is on the corner of Bridge Street, on the north bank of the Garavogue. It’s a great location, with an attractive view of the bridge and river from the first floor, even in the rain. But it’s quite an ordinary-looking place and we’d probably never thought of going there had we not seen it recommended by the Sligo Food Trail Twitter account.

There’s nothing about the décor that leaps out at you or draws you in, and there’s certainly nothing to suggest what a treat you’re in for if you come in here to eat.

I think the ordinariness of Sweet Beat is one of the things that makes it stand out. It’s a work-a-day place serving daytime vegetarian meals for busy shoppers and workers nipping out for a quick snack or healthy lunch. Yet the thought and effort that goes into the food is really impressive, as are the huge variety of ingredients they use to create the dishes.

You get the usual suspects, of course, but a quick glance at the menu reveals hemp, bee pollen, chia seeds, maca, lucuma, spirulina… to the point where you wonder if they’ve made some of these names up. They even use hazelnut mylk, which may or may not be a misprint.

We ate upstairs. The mechanical digger eating through the pavement outside raised its articulated neck, so that the shovel appeared at the window like the head of a giant metal beast, peering into the café.

Had it looked closely, it would have spotted something suspicious. The couple at the table next to us were innocently munching the lunch they’d ordered. Their son, however, was surreptitiously chomping through a couple of sausage rolls he’d smuggled in, no doubt taking advantage of the fact the meat sensors had been turned off because of the roadworks.

It is rare that I see a sausage roll without wanting to eat one. Without actually just eating one, in fact. And when I say rare, I mean never, of course. First time for everything, I suppose, because the only thought that went through my mind was he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

First off, a couple of juices. The Green Warrior is made with cucumber, apple, spinach, celery, lemon, lime, and ginger, and it zings and zaps with a face-pulling freshness. The Sweet Beet has just the four ingredients (slackers!), and the combination of beetroot, lime, ginger, and apple is deep, earthy, and sweet, with a lovely nip of sharpness. (They do another juice, by the way, called Unicorn Tears, and the list of ingredients reads like the lyrics to My Favourite Things).

For mains we had the avocado toast with hummus, although it’s down on the menu as Avo (no cado), and this was very good indeed. The hummus was rich and full of flavour, so good we ordered some more, while the avocado was thick and creamy, perfect with the sourdough toast. It might have been all too cloying, were it not for the sweet, fresh, juicy tomato and the run of flavours provided by all the spices.

The best dish was the Moroccan tagine. The rice was perfectly cooked, for one thing, and then there was the dance of flavours, textures, and tastes – heat from the chilli, freshness from the lemon, colour and sweetness from the red peppers, bite and crunch from the chickpeas, warmth from the ginger. It was beautiful, and there was added crunch from the super salad.

If the puddings were a bit flat, it was probably down to the hard act they had to follow.

This was one of the nicest meals I’ve had in absolute ages. Fresh, healthy, delicious – taste the goodness, and then goodness, the taste!

THE BILL

Sweet Beet juice €4.75

Green Warrior juice €4.75

Moroccan Tagine €9.95

Avocado Toast €9.50

Toast €1.20

Chocolate brownie €3.75

Turtle cookie €2.75

Jam Oat Crumble square €3.50

Hummus €8

Super Salad €7.50

Americano €2.20 x 2 €4.40

Total: €60.05 (£53.97)

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