There's a new kid in Sligo town, as Sweet As... diner and deli opens its doors.
It’s the brainchild of Carolanne Rushe, co-founder of Sweet Beat Cafe, a popular plant-based restaurant also in Sligo. She was inspired to open it after returning home from living in South Africa and finding a lack of vegetarian and vegan options in her hometown. The first premises, which opened in 2014, has been a huge success and a ‘great learning experience’ for Carolanne and the team, she says. “Four and a half years down the road and I still get nervous at 8.30am every morning when people start bustling through the door. It's always so exciting to see our regulars, tourists and new customers coming in. They're here because the food is good. We are so proud that we have created this unique offering on the North West.”
READ MORE: Ultimate Vegan Choc Cake
Eating, not preaching
With an increase in the accessibility - and quality - of vegan food, more non-vegans are checking out plant-based dishes. “Most of our customers are non-vegan and they always say when they eat with us that you would never miss the meat, dairy, eggs etc.,” Carolanne explains. “Our goal is to show people just how amazing this way of eating is without preaching to them. We're all about creating layers of flavour and texture in our food which people love; there are no soggy salads, it's all about punchy flavours and filling ingredients.”
The new diner has a full-plant based menu created around locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Dishes include garlic miso mushrooms with fermented mustard bechamel on sourdough, and a baked flatbread with coconut cashew yogurt, romesco sauce along with slow-roasted vegetables, pickled red onion and chili nuts.
Along with the plant-based menu Carolanne has been focusing heavily on sustainable production and delivery across the business. The staff has been trained in a ‘zero waste’ ethos, using things like dehydration and fermentation to maximise the use of ingredients and reduce waste. Suppliers have been asked to deliver goods plastic-free and coffee beans and salad leaves will be in reusable containers.
“We've always been very lucky with our ingredients and suppliers and get about five deliveries a week from farmers and growers based within half an hour from the cafe,” she explains. “Lots of the bigger suppliers source our wholegrain, nuts and seeds for us and we l try to use organic where possible. We also source our own spices and herbs so we can continuously guarantee freshness.”
And as for Carolanne’s own top picks on the menu? “I think my all-time favourite dish is our Sweet Beat Beans,” she says. “Its been on our menu since day one. It's a slow-cooked tomato sauce with soaked cannellini beans and served with bakeshop sourdough, organic kale pesto, toasted seeds and organic greens. Our specials are also amazing, we have some great chefs who love to experiment. Rice bowls are a popular favourite in the summertime and our roast veggie lasagna with creamy bechamel is so popular in winter.”