Whitehead is off the main road from somewhere to anywhere. You have to choose to visit the town rather than drive through it. This quality has helped preserve it as an untarnished Victorian and Edwardian enclave. Some of the finest villas line the waveswept Marine Parade looking out over the Irish Sea. Local watercolourist Audrey Kyle was inspired to paint the fruity candy coloured terrace (lemon | lime | peach | blueberry) in the centre of Marine Parade. No wonder: a strong winter’s sunrise drenches the pointy gabled houses in an artist’s dream of deep hues.
Until recently, Whitehead was not synonymous with gastrotourism. That all changed with the opening of The Bank House. You guessed it, a café and deli plus gift shop in a former bank. Owner Sinead Moane lives in the rambling red brick original bank manager’s house next door. “The Bank House is the first stop on Toast to Coast, a guided food tour of the Causeway Coastal route,” she explains over vegetarian brunch.
Everything is locally sourced. Providential provenance. “The Orchard Twist apple and blackcurrant juice comes from Armagh,” says Sinead. That’s the county famous for orchards. “The yoghurt is from the Clandeboye Estate. Next is Fivemiletown goat’s cheese.” Traditional soda bread is given a sharp twist with added chilli and pepper. Irish black butter is a less well known delicacy. “It includes brandy and liquorice,” Sinead confirms. The Bank House has transformed Whitehead from a detour to a destination.