On his intrepid journey of discovery of Irish businesses Barry Walsh looks at flavoursome food businesses from Sligo that are going places.
Clo Chocolates, founded by Clotilde Rambaud, is a chocolate business located in Sligo town. Clo, developed her passion for food from a young age and received formal training in patisserie and chocolate making at Les Sorbets in Noirmoutier in France. Her culinary journey led her to work at the renowned two Michelin Star Restaurant La Table de Joel Robuchon in Paris, where she honed her craft and perfected her chocolate creations.
After exploring New Zealand and Europe to further enhance her skills, Clo fell in love with Ireland, particularly Sligo. She met her partner, Tomasz, in Sligo, and together, they took over a small bakery and created Le Fournil.
Over the past decade, Clo has expanded her range of chocolates, incorporating fresh local Sligo produce. Her blend of flavours has earned her numerous awards, including Gold in 2020 for her Boozy Truffles and Gold in 2021 for her Whiskey experience, collaborating with a local whiskey producer, Athru. In 2021, Clo was recognised as the Overall Winner in County Sligo at Blas na hEireann.
Celebrated for its fine dining experience and has earned a strong reputation for its culinary excellence. The restaurant is located in a picturesque setting along the Garavogue River in Sligo, offering beautiful waterfront views to diners.
Eala Bhan is known for its commitment to using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, showcasing the flavours of County Sligo and the surrounding region. The menu typically features a range of contemporary Irish and international dishes, prepared with creativity and precision. Seafood, in particular, is a highlight due to its proximity to the coast.
The restaurant often receives accolades and awards for its cuisine and service quality, including the title of “Best Restaurant in Connaught 2023.” This recognition underscores its status as one of the top dining establishments in the province of Connaught
A family-run health food company located in Sligo, Good4U draws inspiration from its natural surroundings to produce super-nutritious products tailored to provide functional health benefits for people of all ages and tastes. In 2004, they discovered the health benefits of sprouted seeds and, backed by research from the University of Ulster, began their mission to make Super Sprouts accessible to everyone.
Today, this superfood continues to be a cornerstone of their offerings, which have since grown to include 40 different products, showcasing their ongoing creativity and commitment to promoting health and well-being.
The company offers a range of nutritious and tasty snacks, including energy balls, protein balls, super seed snacks, roasted pulse snacks, salad toppers, breakfast boosts, and special snacks for children. They are committed to producing affordable and sustainable products while maintaining a dedication to health and honesty. The company is constantly innovating and planning new product launches. Their ultimate goal is to become the world’s most beloved and trusted health food brand, proudly made in Ireland, with a passion for making healthy eating accessible to all.
Good4U has previously won awards from The Free From Food Award, Blas Na nÉireann and the Prestigious Sial Innovation Awards in Paris.
In 2013, Blaithin founded the non-profit Rennafix group, which later evolved into the Havin’ a Laugh charity. Blaithin is a highly skilled yoga teacher with a strong commitment to promoting life-enhancing activities that promote sustainable and healthy well-being.
Through her work and charitable efforts, she aims to increase awareness and accessibility to the benefits of these activities for everyone. You can learn more about her initiatives on her website.
“Our mission is to assist with the promotion of positive mental health through life-enhancing activities, connecting to people and Havin’ a Laugh,” the business states. “We believe that life-enhancing activities will be acknowledged as a legitimate and essential part of mental health recovery in the near future and that those who are ‘up for it and at it’ have a platform from which they can support those who do not yet have that drive. Our values include teamwork, respect, fun, creativity, pro-activity and being an inspiration to others.”
Achievements include creating a programme that has made a significant impact on mental health support by assisting around 400 individuals in therapy through the distribution of life-enhancing activity vouchers.
This initiative not only provided valuable resources but also created a positive and enjoyable atmosphere in support of mental health recovery. In addition, the program established connections with over 40 mental health support service providers and facilitated partnerships between these providers and local champions, who advocate for the value of life-enhancing activities in the region. The program also educated activity providers about the significance and advantages of incorporating such activities into the mental health recovery process, thereby contributing to a holistic approach to mental well-being.
At Hooked Restaurant in Sligo their ethos revolves around sourcing local and Irish products to support the local economy. They prioritise using artisan and Irish producers, ensuring that their beef comes from grass-fed cattle at Sherlock’s of Tubbercurry, Sligo. Fresh produce is delivered daily by local suppliers, and they collaborate with L.E.T.S Organic Centre, Sligo, for foraged ingredients when in season. The restaurant actively participates in local farmers’ markets and adapts its menu according to the changing seasons, utilising the finest, freshest produce that County Sligo has to offer.
Anthony, the restaurant’s owner, has a deep connection to Sligo’s culinary heritage, stemming from his father Joe Gray’s butcher shop on Teeling Street. This family history has inspired the incorporation of handmade, award-winning sausages, black and white pudding, cured hams, and more into the menu. Anthony firmly believes in the exceptional quality of ingredients produced in Sligo and the North West of Ireland. Their restaurant, located along the picturesque Wild Atlantic Way, takes advantage of the region’s abundance, offering shellfish, exceptional dairy products, and more.
With its proximity to the Garavogue River and its commitment to local sourcing, Hooked Restaurant invites patrons to experience an all-day dining affair characterised by good, honest Irish food served in a bistro-style cafe setting. They welcome guests to leave their diets at the door and indulge in the flavours of Sligo.
Prannie Rhatigan is the founder of The Irish Seaweed Kitchen. In addition to being one of Ireland’s most respected GP’s and an expert on public health Prannie also “with a lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables” according to her website. This has led Prannie to her passion and subject matter of the intersector of health and food particularly in the area of seaweed as a food source.
Renowned as Ireland’s foremost seaweed expert, Prannie has been a prominent figure in promoting Irish cuisine internationally. She has represented Ireland’s culinary excellence on numerous occasions, conducting workshops and lectures on the utilisation of sea vegetables in cooking.
Notably, she delivered the President’s address at the PSA (Phycological Society of America) in Seattle in 2011 and organised a seaweed cooking workshop with researchers in the USA. Her expertise also extended to the Nordic Food Lab in Denmark, where she shared her knowledge and demonstrated seaweed cookery during its association with Noma, a three-time recipient of the title “Best Restaurant in the World.” Furthermore, she has made appearances on various television and radio programs, both nationally and internationally. Her recent work focuses on exploring the connections between genetics, the environment, and the health benefits of incorporating live foods into one’s diet to enhance overall well-being.
Some of her awards include Irish Seaweed Kitchen won a Gourmand Award Ireland for Best First Cookbook 2009. Special Acknowledgement for her Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food by Euro-Toques 2012.
Lough Gill Brewery is an independent family run brewery based in Sligo, that restored the art of breweries to a town that once hosted five breweries. Lough Gill began in 2016 with a quest for better beer.
“We crave adventure and find inspiration all around us from our location along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way,” says James Ward. “Since then, we’ve grown into a craft brewery with Distribution Nationwide here in Ireland and we work with distribution partners in Holland, NI, Italy, France, Japan, Russia, Spain and the USA. We are very excited to be part of Ireland’s growing craft beer scene. We brew a range of stouts, ales, lagers and also one off single batch releases. You can find our beers on tap locally in many of the fine bars and restaurants we have here in Sligo.”
Anthony Gray is an accomplished restaurateur in Sligo, Ireland, known for his Eala Bhan restaurant, which recently received the prestigious title of “Best Restaurant in Connaught 2023.” He also owns Hooked Sligo, a casual dining establishment with a track record of winning numerous awards and recognitions from Ireland’s top foodie guides. Both restaurants are situated on Tobergal Lane in Sligo.
Anthony’s strong relationships with local businesses and suppliers enable him to curate Taste of Sligo Tours, offering visitors the opportunity to savour the best of the Wild Atlantic Way. These tours typically last 2.5 hours and include visits to five to seven Sligo venues. Participants can sample a wide variety of dishes crafted from the freshest local ingredients and enjoy tastings of beverages like craft beers, wine, and whiskey.
These tours provide a unique opportunity to come together and share not only food and drinks but also experiences and stories. They offer a fantastic way to explore Sligo, immersing yourself in the local hospitality industry, with Anthony Gray as your knowledgeable host.
One of Ireland’s oldest businesses, the pub has held a licence since 1861. This historic pub is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere, famous pint of stout, live music and extensive selection of whiskey, Irish craft beer, and gin. With over 200 whiskies, including premium Irish, Scotch, Japanese and bourbon. Connolly’s caters for whiskey enthusiasts and hosts regular whiskey tasting events in the pub. They have released a series of single cask whisky from the local Lough Gill Distillery.
In addition to whiskey, Thomas Connolly offers a growing collection of small batch, premium Irish and international gins, complete with premium tonics, mixers and fresh garnishes. The pub takes pride in showcasing local and national craft beers on tap and has even collaborated to create their own Thomas Connolly IPA and Red Ale on draught.
Thomas Connolly has a range of European red, white, rose and prosecco wines by the glass or the bottle. Connolly believes in choice and so gluten-free and non-alcoholic drinks are well stocked. They will also happily prepare a fresh ground or speciality coffee of your choice.
The recently won Pub Of The Year – All Ireland Winner – 2023 and was recommended as one of twenty pubs in Ireland to visit by Lonely Planet Guides.
Based in Ballymote in County Sligo, The White Hag became Sligo’s first homegrown
brewery in more than 100 years when it opened in 2013. Since then it has launched more than 120 different beers and ciders and a range of branded merchandise. Their beers have an eye for detail and are brewed with a nod to the ancient ways of brewing alcohol in the county.
They have won global beer awards from Beoir, Ratebeer and Untappd platforms.
The team launched a crowd funded barrel aged programme, where they implemented a “adopt a barrel” campaign so their customers could get their own unique beer from one of their 300 aged-oak barrels.
The campaign was so successful they exceeded their target by 100 barrels. The White Hag opened an airport bar in partnership with Dublin Airport in December 2021, and provide beer to Lidl, Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Supervalu, as well as nationwide distribution via Maxol petrol stations.
They are also about to open a taproom at its brewery.
Created by Funké Egberongbe, Zeebaah’s Food is an Afro Caribbean restaurant and catering company based in Sligo Town. Established in 2009, the company brings Afro Caribbean food such as rice based dishes, soups, stews, sides such as mio, mio and plantain, a range of snack dishes such as Puff Puff and Meat Pies and chef specials to their customers. The range of sauces that they have created are also on sale on their website. In addition they also have catering services including bringing their own “Chafing dishes, Chiavari Chairs, Chair covers, Table covers and everything you need to create that special day memorable.” They also create cakes for special events such as weddings, birthday etc.