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7 reasons all foodies should visit Co Down

Foot bridge over the Shimna River
Foot bridge over the Shimna River

Everywhere you look in Northern Ireland, you will find a food story that entertains or an experience that celebrates all things gastro.

Northern Ireland is known to produce some of the finest food and drink available, and County Down has been at the heart of culinary renaissance of recent years. Take a trip to surround yourself with majestic mountains, scenic landscapes and tasty dishes.

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Foot bridge over the Shimna River

1. Make your way to the beautiful Waterfoot Apartments on Newcastle’s seafront, with breathtaking and unrivalled views over the Irish sea and the magnificent Mourne Mountains. The contemporary apartment is a welcoming home from home in a striking location, close to the hustle and bustle of the promenade and of course the beach below.

Step out onto the spacious terrace and breathe in the fresh sea air before making your way to discover the delicious artisan food of the region.

2. Only five minutes away, on the banks of the Shimna River, Enniskeen Country House Hotel is the starting point for your foodie exploration with a twist. The ‘Mourne Food & Films Cycle Tour’ is a self-guided tour that incorporates locally produced foods and filming locations in the stunning Shimna Valley.

Board the complimentary shuttle bus to Spelga Dam in the heart of the Mournes – from here it is all downhill as you freewheel through ancient woodland before reaching the coast. Pass locations featured in screen smashes such as Philomena, Game of Thrones, The Fall and Dracula Untold, as you make your way to hear the stories of local producers and farmers to hear their stories.

Meet the passionate people behind traditionally hand-churned Abernethy Butter and other well-known local brands and sample their artisan delights. This unique tour brings you along quiet rural roads and smooth off-road trails in some of Northern Ireland’s most dramatic landscapes. Electric bikes are also available if you’d prefer a more relaxed experience.

Mourne Food & Films Cycle Tour

3. With an afternoon of gentle adventure and gastro treats complete, visit the nearby village of Dundrum to dine in what is considered by many as one of Northern Ireland’s best restaurants.

Mourne Seafood Bar is a small coastal venue, serving locally caught seafood in a relaxed and inviting setting. Produce is sourced daily from local ports such as Kilkeel and Annalong, with a rich fishing heritage ensuring the finest culinary wonders from Northern Irish waters are showcased. Take a seat in the cosy restaurant and choose from a menu that includes a signature creamy chowder, whole fish of the day and spicy bream all originating from the region.

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Mourne Seafood Restaurant, Dundrum

4. Once you have eaten your fill of the finest local seafood, take a few minutes’ walk to The Buck’s Head Inn.

A centerpiece of the historic village dating back to the eighteenth century this welcoming establishment has gained a host of accolades for its celebrated restaurant and boasts a quaint cherry-wood panelled bar with a roaring fire.

In finer weather, move out to the pretty walled garden that is a favourite with locals and visiting guests alike. Return to your modern apartment content and relaxed after a day of tasting the best of the Mourne region. Look out across the promenade as the sea laps the shore before retiring to your master bedroom to enjoy a restful sleep. With so much more to savour, where will be next on your culinary tour of County Down?

5. At Brunel’s restaurant, head chef Paul Cunningham is recognised as one of the most adventurous and artistic restaurateurs in Northern Ireland. An award-winning restaurant in the heart of Newcastle, County Down providing fresh, local, seasonal "good food from the heart."

Critical acclaim and numerous awards are the result of the dedication to consistently excellent dishes using local, seasonal, fresh produce. Indulge in the Jawbox Gin-cured sea trout or Strangford mussels in the atmospheric  dining room of the seafront restaurant.

Brunel's, Co Down

6. Take a stroll along the Newcastle promenade and onto Murlough Beach. This magically positioned five-mile stretch of golden sands is the heart of the town and is hugely popular year-round. Look out for swimmers, paddle-boarders and water-sport enthusiasts taking to the waves for a splash as you walk along the shore.

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Murlough Beach

7. Pop in to Olive Bizarre on Newcastle’s South Promenade for breakfast and brunch or choose from one of its mouth-watering tempting treats. This family-run kitsch café uses ingredients from local producers and includes a fantastic selection of tasty gluten-free options. Order the immaculately served best-selling Afternoon Tea and enjoy with a beautiful view of the harbour.

Mouth-watering treats at Olive Bizarre

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