Eating Out: Gap Coffee Co a perfect pit-stop in Co Donegal

Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Gap Coffee Co,


Bridge End,

Co Donegal.

Tel +353 (0) 936 8001

I'VE been here often, at different hours, on different days, at different times of the year.

I think the location has a lot to do with it. Gap is on the road north out of Derry and into Donegal. It's next to a roundabout, one exit of which will take you past Burt Chapel and along the Swilly, down to Letterkenny and beyond, while the other takes you to all points Inishowen.

Daytrippers and holidaymakers from all manner of places will pass by. Or they'll stop, of course. And if they stop once, they'll stop again. Serious cyclists, too. On a summer Sunday, you'll see the space out front full of racing bikes and the seats inside full of lycra. It's the perfect pit-stop.

Most times we've eaten here, it's been on our way somewhere or on our way back. Not this time, though. This time, it was our destination, rather than our stopping-off point. My daughter and I were here to have lunch, and to pick up something for my wife and brother back home.

We were by far from being the only ones there. An ordinary Tuesday lunchtime it may well have been, but the place was packed: couples, groups, singles, aged anywhere between four and 75, either in for a meal or just for a coffee, a cake and a catch-up.

The café occupies a good, big space. Down one wall is the counter where you queue up to order, with the display shelves full of temptation, while the rest of the space is taken up by seating. There's seating outside, too, if the tables aren't occupied by leaning bikes.

The floors are wooden boards and the walls mainly exposed brick. I'd say the word to describe both the furniture and décor is 'eclectic'. There are old chairs covered in a range of fabrics, deep, leather sofas, even a couple of aircraft seats. Car boot sales, house clearances, maybe even the occasional skip has been raided by the looks of things. Not to mention the odd chair that appears to have been swiped from the altar while the priest had his back turned. An interior designer with catholic tastes has been at work.

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Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin Gap Coffee Co. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

There's also what you might call a 'sculpture', made from old school desks, up on the wall.

If that's eclectic, then the menu is pretty focussed, and it's focussed on good, filling grub. Open from 8.30am to 5pm, there's a very appealing range of hearty breakfast dishes, with a lunch menu full of wraps and toasties, along with a few salads, a sausage roll, and a soup of the day.

My daughter chose the cheese toastie, which was exactly what you'd expect a cheese toastie to be. My peri-peri wrap was packed with cheese and lovely spicy chunks of tender chicken, with a surprisingly hot sauce to gee the whole thing up, although there was precious little sign of the promised red onion, which would have sharpened things up.

The sausage roll – homemade – was a meaty chap, good quality and very satisfying. Best of the bunch, though, was the pear and walnut salad. Put together with real care and attention, this was delicious, sweet, sharp, salty, rich, soft and crunchy.

This high quality continued into dessert. My daughter's red velvet cake was moist and deeply flavoured, with a lovely, sweet, creamy topping. The scone was packed with raisins, and the crisp outer shell opened to revealed a soft, light centre.

The chocolate and hazelnut tart was especially good. Maybe the pastry base was a little too thick, but that didn't matter too much, because the topping was gorgeous – thick, rich, dark, smooth chocolate with a sprinkling of hazelnuts for an earthy taste and a pleasing contrast in texture.

There's far more to Gap than just a good location. This is a place where you can get well-cooked, hearty, filling meals and sweet, moreish traybakes, not to mention good coffee and the complete range of McDaid's soft drinks. No wonder people call in time and again.

It's just Gap, incidentally. There's no 'The'. Nevertheless, it's the definite article.

THE BILL (Prices for four, in Euros):

  • Child's cheese toastie – 4.50
  • Peri peri wrap, southern fried chicken goujons, red onion, cheese, peri peri sauce – 8.90
  • Pear and walnut salad – 9.00
  • Homemade sausage roll – 5.50
  • Fruit scone – 3.00
  • Chocolate and hazelnut tart – 4.00
  • Red velvet cake – 4.00

TOTAL: €38.90 (£33.40)