Grangecon Cafe and Foodstore is not, as the name might suggest, in the tiny West Wicklow village of Grangecon. Nine years ago, it was. But these days you’ll find its delicious light meals and excellent coffee served in the nearby town of Blessington.
Confusion about the name aside, this is one of the best cafes in the county, if not the country. There is a real focus on local suppliers, as proudly listed on the cafe website. Staff are delightful. The setting – an ancient schoolhouse – is well-lit, beautifully decorated in rustic style, and bedecked with charming works of art by local artists.
Most importantly, the end product is delicious. On our visit, we ate poached eggs with black pudding and grilled tomatoes, and a roasted red pepper omelette with goat’s cheese. Several rounds of homemade toast and well-brewed tea rounded off an excellent meal.
Here’s the “mission statement” about suppliers from the website:
We strive to buy the very best local food and support Irish producers. Here is a list of some of our suppliers Ballybrado and Doves. Hilda and Dominic Quinn from Castleruddery organic farm supply us with organic salad leaves and seasonal vegetables, we also use Eddie Whelan from Dunlavin for potatoes, apples and rhubarb. Jenny Young from Castlefarm supplies us with organic eggs for our lunch specials. We only use free range chicken from Carlow foods, free range pork and dry cured bacon from T. J. Crowe in Tipperary, and beef and lamb from both Crimmins butchers in Blessington and Myles Doyle in Dunlavin. We source our dry cured lunch ham (which we cook off slowly ourselves with delicious spices) from Dunlavin bacon. Our fish comes from the fabulous ‘East Coast Fish shop’ in Naas town.
The Mystic Celt restaurant is about as locally-based as a restaurant menu can get. All ingredients are sourced locally within a 50 mile radius. All vegetables come from An Tairseach Eco Centre and other local growers. All crab and lobster come from local fishermen and the restaurant uses only use Irish beef.
It’s the dream of proprietors Paul and Sylvia Smith. The description of their restaurant on their website, could easily be the official motto of Strictly Wicklow too:
Recently we have developed a new awareness of the dishes of our ancestors and the confidence to recreate and enrich our native culinary tradition. A new Irish food culture is growing, driven by the lavish bounties of our seas, lakes and the rich land of Erin. Our menu is a celebration of the rich, ancient food culture of a uniquely beautiful land. This is our tribute to the country of our birth, a land where we are privileged to live.
The Tinahely Farm Shop is the brainchild of Philip and Rebecca – former dairy farmers who have now opened up their beautiful south Wicklow farm to the public.
The main building houses a combined farm shop and delicatessen-style cafe. As well as farm produce such as tomatoes and eggs, the shop stocks high quality food products.
Local brands include Cathy’s Spelt products, Uncle Aidan’s Stoneground Flour, Tinahely Honey, and Coolattin Cheddar.
The cafe is decorated in a rustic but smart style – plentiful gingham, inverted metal pales for lampshades, and mini milk bottles for milk jugs – and the menu is similarly charming: fresh scones; boiled eggs; sandwiches.
Regular events are held at the farm. Basket making, vintage car rallies, and tours of the farm are examples of recent events.
Rebecca runs a popular pick-up vegetable box scheme from the farm.
Complex of restaurant, cafe, and pub, which gives priority to organic and wild foods. Brook Lodge runs a regular farmers’ market. The Strawberry Tree is Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant. It even employs its own forager to provide wild foods for the menu!
Healthy Habits is a unique raw food shop and cafe located in Wicklow town.
Irish raw food vegans don’t have much eating choices outside central Dublin. But in Wicklow town raw vegans are spoilt by the Healthy Habits shop and cafe.
The shop sells lots of affordable raw food – nuts, seeds, pulses, wheatgrass, cacao, coffee etc. – as well all sorts of other health foods; it’s essentially like a cheap health food shop with a raw food focus!
Also for sale are materials to aid the adoption of a raw food diet; things like recipe books, dehydrators, wheatgrass systems, and seed sprouting trays. There’s an online ordering system on the Healthy Habits website »
The cafe and kitchen recently underwent major redevelopment and serves up dishes such as:
Raw pizzas, made using dehydrated ingredients for the base.
Colourful salads with zingy flavours from pestos and other sauces.
Healthy Habits is tucked away on Quarantine Hill, a steep one way street below the south end of Wicklow’s Main Street and very near the harbour area. Wicklow is served by commuter trains and the #133 Bus Eireann service.
Owners & Operators
Healthy Habits is run by a religious group called the Servants of Love. Staff at both shop and cafe are drawn from the group. Find out more on the Servants of Love website »
The Happy Pear is a popular vegetarian cafe and grocery in Greystones.
The Happy Pear epitomises the recent transformation of Greystones into a haven for foodies. Emerging from the ashes of a fruit and veg business on the same site, this “natural food market” specialises in fruit smoothies and organic, local produce.
The cafe serves up delicous vegetarian food, made fresh onsite. There are daily dishes, soups, coffees and a particularly excellent hot chocolate. Lunches and brunches here are particularly loved by vegetarians, coeliacs and those sensitive to dairy products.
The grocery next door has both organic and non-organic produce (nicely separated from each other). It sources its fruit, vegetables and other products from local, as well as national and international producers.
The success of the Happy Pear cafe and shop has spawned several spin-off enterprises:
Stephen & David Flynn are the twin brothers behind the various Happy Pear enterprises. These guys grew up down the road from their business and employ a cohort of smiley local staff.
The business occupies a two storey buildling on Church Road (basically at the top of Greystones Main Street). Access by DART and bus is easy. There’s outdoor seating but the indoor seating is not wheelchair accessible.
The Happy Pear is very much on top of its online game: the shop has an excellent website, with online ordering, a regularly updated blog, recipe ideas, as well as links to all the usual social media accounts.