Belfast Telegraph

Streetview: Picnic Delicatessen and Cafe

By Ron McBride

Sitting listening to R&B music in the shadow of a scenic castle, with a cappuccino and focaccia with roast chicken, jalepenos, red peppers and cheese, one could be on holiday abroad.

With the bonus of sunshine, Killyleagh can provide such an illusion.

Picnic, established by John and Kath Dougherty, has become well-known in the decade since its opening. The delicatessen and cafe has an attractive location beside the castle, parts of which date back to 1195, in a street with a variety of shops, hostelries and art galleries. The establishment boasts a garden, with seating, adjacent to the castle.

The first-time visitor will walk into compact, crowded premises full of character. It may have limited space but the deli counter, packed with cheeses and hams, home-made pies and ragouts, is the unavoidable focal point. One’s eye is drawn to the overhanging menu boards and, inevitably, to the range of cakes and baklavas along with the house speciality, friands. The quality of food is high. In 2009, The Guardian, featured Picnic in a top 10 list of venues in the UK to have breakfast.

An early morning start is made preparing the food. John’s breakfast speciality, hot chocolate porridge with raspberries, has proved a hit as has the spicy potato cakes with cream cheese.

Sit inside the cafe and you can indulge in people-watching. The clientele is varied, having a good mix of locals and visitors. Accents overheard commonly betray visitors from overseas. Picnic is an attraction for cyclists, walkers and those touring Strangford Lough by car.

There is the atmosphere of a cafe involved in the local community, be it from locals calling for take away panini or the notices advertising piano lessons, a jazz festival or cottages to rent. Local artists are supported with pottery or perhaps a book on local history on sale. Local campaigns, such as Save our Library are backed.

This sense of community is part of an attractive overall package which encourages people to return. The music, the chatter, the sound of plates and cutlery, orders being placed, the coffee machine and the eye-catching details of both the stock and posters provide a pleasing experience.

John speaks of the need to source high-quality food and his local suppliers provide free-range eggs, honey, raspberries, hams, cheeses and yoghurts. It is little wonder that Picnic has been recommended by the likes of Georgina Campbell and The Guardian. Rick Stein has eaten there and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has visited it as part of a BBC series.

If you should be near Delamont or travelling around Strangford and feeling peckish, you will not be disappointed by Picnic, where the cheerful staff will present you with a wide range of fine food.

Picnic Delicatessen and Cafe,

Killyleagh

Belfast Telegraph

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