Savour the coast, meet the locals and see why Mid and East Antrim was named one of Ireland’s Top 10 Foodie Destinations in 2018!

With Shaped by Sea and Stone, you can savour Mid and East Antrim’s fine gastronomy with a range of magnificent castles, hotels, bakeries, bars, ice-cream parlours and museums. Antrim’s unique heritage and wonderfully-preserved architecture will enchant you as you make your way along the coast and see why this area was named one of Ireland’s Top 10 Foodie Destinations in 2018!

Explore the flavours of the Coast with a Food Tour

Toast the Coast – Meet the locals putting Antrim on the foodie map

You can celebrate delicious local food with Toast the Coast, which takes visitors along the breathtaking Causeway Coastal Route. From Whitehead to Cushendun, you can enjoy a full day of tasting and eating, taking in the views from your coach and stopping off in towns along the way.

Available tours

  • Full day guided tour:Foodies looking to take in the most iconic sights can also enjoy a visit to the Giant’s Causeway
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  • Ulster Scots Food and Heritage Tour: Experience the unique heritage of Antrim in a private group of eight people or more.
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  • Half-day tours:Available for groups of eight or more.
  • You’ll sample the best in hand-reared and harvested food from several local producers. Sit back and say “Sláinte!” as you toast to the coast and sip whiskey. Along the way, you can spot two Game of Thrones® Doors, which feature intricately carved wood depicting scenes from the television show and were gifted to different landmarks around Northern Ireland.

    Local producers include Ann’s Pantry in Larne. Founded 50 years ago, this bakery is an institution in Northern Ireland. If you’re here during the festive season, then you would be wise to sample the much-loved sticky toffee pudding at Linda’s Original. Baker Linda de Vecchis works out of a converted woollen mill located in a lovely village of Broughshane (Channel 4’s UK Village of the Year!).

    Explore the beautiful Ballygally Castle Hotel Restaurant. Reportedly haunted by the “friendly ghost” Lady Isabella, this 17th-century castle is a hotel and sits on an idyllic setting overlooking the sea. Read more about this beguiling hotel below!

    There are plenty of ways to enjoy this culinary journey! Check out the full list of stops at shapedbyseaandstone.com

    I’m extremely proud of the Antrim Coast, Toast the Coast founder Portia Woods said. Toast the Coast tries to acknowledge this overlooked part of Northern Ireland’s coastline. It’s home to some of our best local artisans, crafters and tourist destinations.

    Whitehead Guided Walk & Food Tastings

    With this walking tour through the town of Whitehead, you’ll combine learning about the region’s intriguing heritage and stories of the past with delicious food. Stopping off at three venues, you’ll get a warm welcome as you navigate the Victorian-era “Town With No Streets”.

    You’ll stop off at the Bank House to enjoy a delicious deli breakfast. Guide Steve Diamond will then take you through the town and share the most interesting stories of this town’s history and architecture. You’ll make your way to the Old Tea House where you and your group can enjoy the freshest seafood and a sharing platter of food before topping it off with homemade ice cream.

    Antrim’s historic manufacturing industry is cherished here and offers the perfect places to explore during your visit. Your tour will include a stop at the Whitehead Railway Museum. Located on the Coastal Road, it’s just a short journey from Belfast. You can even look at these historic carriages and locomotives from the inside! You’ll enjoy a cream tea in the regal Edwardian Tea Room before setting off into town again and ending your day back at the Bank House.

    Experiences

  • Bellahil Lunch: Relaxing two or three course lunch with tea/coffee and a Bellahill bite
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  • Bellahill Lunch Demonstrations: Arlene’s Lunch Demonstrations offer groups a relaxed and fun demonstration followed by a tasty two-course lunch.
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  • Bellahill Themed Tasting Demos: Themed cookery demonstration and tastings.
  • Bellahill Cookery

    Looking to brush up on your skills in the kitchen? You’re in good hands with Arlene Thompson, owner of Bellahill Cookery. Having cooked with Jamie Oliver and the X Factor house contestants, Arlene is a total pro!

    Based in a sweet country house on the Causeway Coastal Route, you and your group can enjoy a relaxed but fun cooking class in an idyllic countryside setting. Rated 5/5 as an experience on TripAdvisor, you can rest assured that it’ll be a day to remember with your crew.

    Ballygally Castle

    When you drive up to Ballygally Castle on the windswept Antrim Coast, you immediately feel like you’re coming upon something grand. Now run as a hotel, it is the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland.

    Built in the early 1600s, you’ll find much of the original ceilings, along with a contemporary decor. Feeling brave? Visit the “Ghost Room”, where the doomed Lady Isabella Shaw once resided.

    A stay in the Castle’s period rooms rewards you with oceanic panoramas and some delicious food in the Garden Restaurant.

    Ballygally Castle is a great base for exploring nearby, you can head to the beach across from the hotel or Carnfunnock Country Park

    You can enjoy a fantastical twist on a time-honoured tradition with a Game of Thrones® Afternoon Tea. Inspired by the places and characters of the beloved HBO series, you can enjoy mouthwatering treats like Lannister egg rolls, Little Finger Chicken Caesar Wraps and Dothraki trifle. It’s the perfect way to combine two of your passions in one!

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    Photo: Ballygally Castle. Courtesy of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council

    Glenarm Castle

    Tucked away in the small, coastal village of Glenarm lies one of Northern Ireland’s oldest estates.

    Completed in 1625, the stunning Glenarm Castle estate has been in the McDonnell family for 400 years. It now houses Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce and their family. 

    While you are there you can visit the Walled Garden and Estate around Glenarm Castle. This gem in Antrim is open to the public from Easter to September. Time your visit to Mid & East Antrim right and you’ll enjoy a stroll in one of Ireland’s oldest walled gardens. I recommend entering through the Bell Gate. You’ll be greeted with a view that’s bursting with the colours of red, green, blue and yellow.

    This enchanting scenery is a culmination of nurture and love by those who wanted to see the garden evolve to its current verdant state.

    Managing director Adrian Morrow was influential in seeing the estate open to the public. It’s a fantastic place to clear your head and the locally-sourced food in the Tea Room is a must. Many of the ingredients found in this restaurant’s dishes were grown on site!

    The 10th Annual Tulip Festival that takes place on the May bank holiday will mark the opening of the castle grounds to the public. Keep an eye out for events throughout the year!

    Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort

    When it comes to the ultimate 4-star experience in Northern Ireland, the Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort comes out on top. This stunning, sprawling hotel in Ballymena offers a delicious array of food in its award-winning restaurant, the River Room & Conservatory.

    The restaurant has the recognition of being awarded 3 AA Rosettes – a UK-wide scheme recognising the quality of food in hotels and restaurants. This makes it only the fourth establishment in Northern Ireland to have this distinction! From here, you can take in panoramic views of the River Maine as you savour the finest local produce and choose from an extensive wine menu.

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    Photo: Mid & East Antrim Borough Council

    Itinerary

    Shaped by Sea and Stone have put together the perfect two-day itinerary for exploring the culinary landscape of this region. From delicious ice cream in a former dancehall to high tea to Winston Churchill’s former pub and hotel, this is a roadmap to the best in the Northern Irish food scene.

    Allow yourself plenty of time at each stop. Make sure to have a chat and really take in the warmth, friendliness and deep-seated devotion to food that makes this area so special.

    Day 1:

    • The Bank House
    • The Rinkha
    • The Edwardian Tea Room
    • Bellahill Cookery School
    • Ballygally Castle Tea Rooms
    • Londonderry Arms

    Day 2:

    • Londonderry Arms
    • Glenarm Walled Garden Tea Rooms
    • River Room Restaurant, Galgorm Resort & Spa