Meal Ticket: Sweet Beat Café, Sligo

Sweet Beat Café has just celebrated its first birthday and it’s safe to say that its plant-based philosophy is here to stay

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Sweet Beat Café

  • Bridge Street, Sligo
  • Irish

I first came across Carolanne Rushe in around 2012, through reading her blog that celebrated the healthy, plant-based food she was eating and cooking while living abroad. She moved back to Sligo in April 2014 and launched Green Warrior, a line of plant- based foods she sold at Strandhill People’s Market in Sligo.

Before starting her stall, she trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School. She had been vegetarian since her late teens, but travelling in her 20s helped cement her passion for plant-based and raw food. She brought that passion home with her. “While studying in Ballymaloe, I was blown away by the supply of seasonal produce we had in Ireland and what we cold do with it. In July 2014, I trained as a raw food chef and that was it.” In April of last year, Rushe opened the doors of Sweet Beat Café on Bridge St in Sligo.

Sweet Beat Café is plant- based, as opposed to vegan. “We believe that the term plant-based is more accessible. Sometimes people fear the word vegan and are afraid to try it out because of certain negative connotations attached to it. But plant-based also reflects what we do. The fact that we use honey in some of our baking and recipes means we are not actually vegan. Our menu is 90 per cent vegan.”

The daily breakfast menu, or “Earlies”, is pretty constant, serving Avo Toast (€8) and Nut Butter Toast (€6) every day, Monday through Saturday. The lunch menu, known as “Laters”, changes every day. “Our customers love this about our menu,” says Rushe. “It reflects the mood of the chef that’s on that day, and the produce that’s available to us.”

For lunch, I choose the Sweet Beat 3 in 1 (€10.95). It’s a plate of their daily salad and a cup of their daily soup, with a side of avo on toast. Today’s daily salad is bulgar wheat with butter beans and butternut squash, also the key ingredient in the soup. There is a dollop of scrumptious chilli and coriander hummus, and a few slices of lightly pickled cucumbers on top. It’s a dynamic plate of food that leaves me feeling invigorated. The bread, toasted and topped with creamy avocado, is by Bakeshop in Lyon’s Department Store just a five minute walk away. Other suppliers include Knockvicar Organic in Boyle, wheatgrass from Neantóg, and organic seasonal vegetables from The Organic Centre.

While Rushe leads the kitchen team, her head of coffee Simon Hunt leads the front of house and curates their music selection. Sweet Beat’s coffee is made exclusively with 3FE beans, and their current grind is the single origin Brazil Fazenda Inglaterra. They also offer dairy alternatives, so that you can have your milky coffee made with regular dairy, soya or hazelnut milk.

Instead of coffee, I head toward the fermented drinks bar. A ginger kefir (€3.50) has a delicate fizz and just the right amount of spicy gingerness. It’s thoroughly refreshing. Rushe is a fermented-drinks enthusiast, and learned her skills from chef Katie Sanderson and Sligo-based foragers and fermenters Hans and Gaby Wieland of The Organic Centre.

I try to squeeze Rushe’s recipe for her divine Nut Butter Rice Krispie Squares out of her but she wisely evades my request. “They have a following of their own. We have some customers who call in for one every day. They are made with organic peanut butter and honey but that’s all I’ll say!”

Sweet Beat Café has just celebrated its first birthday, and I think it’s safe to say that its plant-based philosophy is here to stay.