Food & Drink

Eating Out: This Must Be The Place is definitely the place to go in Holywood

Simon and Chester enjoying their outing to dog-friendly This Must Be The Place in Holywood. Picture by Hugh Russell
Simon and Chester enjoying their outing to dog-friendly This Must Be The Place in Holywood. Picture by Hugh Russell

This Must Be The Place,

62 High Street,


BT18 9AE

028 9042 8597

MY dog is in his golden years, probably beyond them even, so I am eager to pounce upon any opportunity for him to join me while I'm gallivanting.

If a new café, coffee shop or restaurant advertises itself as dog friendly, there is a high probability that I'll pay it a visit with Chester in tow.

This Must Be The Place is nestled inside The Nutmeg health food store in Holywood - a niche within a niche.

It is the latest such eatery I have discovered that has a 'dogs welcome' sticker in the window. And even better yet, it is 100 per cent vegan, so no risk of any milk ending up in anything.

There is a line in the Talking Heads song, with which this café shares its name, that says "the less we say about it the better". However, in this case, we need to talk about it a lot, because it is all great and more people need to know about it.

A breakfast or lunch, or if you really must, a 'brunch' establishment, it offers a small but varied selection including smoothies, coffees, cold beverages, sandwiches/toasties, sausage rolls, soup, breakfast choices and more - all of it free from foods that come from animals.

There are a few tables dotted around the shop, including a bar with stools, comfy seats and small tables in the window and a picnic-type set up under the café's neon pink sign at the back.

As I mentioned in my debut Eating Out review a couple of months back, my descriptions of food are highly unlikely to be as adjective-laden as readers might be used to. To me, food is either tasty or not although I can sometimes stretch as far as "I like that" or "I don't like that".

Even though I was tempted, I was realistic enough to accept that I could not try everything on the menu. It means I'll return to try the things that were not ordered this time.

Before any food was brought out, Chester was treated to a free puppuccino, a cup filled with whipped non-dairy cream and a few vegan bacon bits. Whipped cream is generally safe for dogs to eat.

For the humans, there was the choice of a soup and a stew, both of which are usually served with wheaten bread and vegan spread. There is also the option to have a cup of soup with a sausage roll or sandwich. We were brought a bowl of tomato and spinach soup as well as a bowl of smokey lentil stew, which on its own would have been enough for a lunch. The stew was warming, hearty and had a kick to it.

There were two vegan toasties on that day's menu - coronation chickpea or ham and cheese. We opted for the former and also ordered a filled soda with vegan bacon, in which Chester had a keen interest. Both were served with some vegan nachos. The coronation chickpea was a clear favourite.

Wanting to pretend I was being healthy, but much like a difficult child who will only eat vegetables if they are cut up and hidden in their food, I also chose a smoothie with kale, mango, cucumber, ginger and lemon. It had been described to me as being like "a face mask for your body".

This health kick was abandoned about 40 minutes later with the arrival of a couple of tray bakes, a funky fifteens with foam banana sweets baked into it, and a lemon and coconut slice. Perfect with a coffee.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable late lunch meal, in a cosy but albeit different setting and overseen by the friendly and informative manager Ciara. Her soups and sandwiches change every few days while at the weekends, there is cheesecake. The online photos make this dessert look spectacular.

Still relatively new, its opening hours appear to have settled on Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm, although the shop remains open for a couple of hours longer. On Sunday the kitchen closes at 3.30pm but coffee and treats remain available. Its social media pages contain information on the latest meals, treats and special late night openings.

Both vegans and vegetarians will love it, even meat eaters will find something to enjoy. I'm already looking forward to a return visit on a weekend - to try the cheesecake, naturally.


Smokey lentil stew: £4.50

Toasted soda with vegan bacon: £4.00

Tomato and spinach soup and coronation chickpea toastie: £7.00

Smoothie: £5.00

Lemon and coconut slice: £3.50

Fifteens: £2.75

Chai spiced latte: £3.25

Americano: £2.50

Total: £31.50