When I visited: August 2016
Rating in the Michelin Guide: Recommended
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Casual, friendly, vintage
Course of the meal: Pan roasted Atlantic hake, roast garlic and lovage gnocchi, samphire, thyme butter and clams
If I could change one thing: Quicker service with wine
On a recent visit to the pretty but wet and windy town of Galway, I was pleased to discover this gem of a restaurant for dinner with some friends. The restaurant has a proper ‘vintage’ feel, featuring wooden tables, little alcoves, what my Owl ancestors would call ‘nooks and crannies’ and melted candles (reminiscent of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast! – see the picture below), as well as paper menus, cute painted cupboards and china-patterned plates.
Once safely ensconced in our little alcove table, my friends and I admired the array of magazines on the wall, including ‘Fool’ magazine. Fools seemed to be a feature of this restaurant, as were gooseberries (more on that later … )
We enjoyed an extensive bread selection to nibble on while we chose our food, as well as water which was given on the proviso of a charity donation (I think more restaurants should add a nominal charity donation to bills as not many diners would object to paying them and it would easily raise quite a lot of money). We selected a white Burgundy to start with and later moved on to a red Montepulciano to share – both wines were tasty but the disadvantage of our alcove table was that it was hard to get anyone’s attention to order the second bottle.
The food itself was consistently good, with not a hint of a main course dip. We started with a salad of candied walnuts, Galway Goat Farm cheese, pear and elderflower dressing, Ard Bia cured and smoked mackerel with potato, ruby ale cheese and pickled gooseberry, and Galway Bay crab salad, pickled organic veg and treacle bread, which was perfectly balanced.
Between us, we had main courses of new season rack of lamb with pea and mint puree, green beans, courgette and mint crème fraiche; West Coast monkfish with Gubeen chorizo, mussels, split pea tomato stew and sorrel yoghurt; and Pan roasted Atlantic hake, roast garlic and lovage gnocchi, samphire, thyme butter and clams – which for me was the course of the meal. We also shared some sides of new potato salad with wholegrain mustard, and Oisin’s organic summer greens, which were both good but probably unnecessary given the size of the portions.
For dessert, I bravely went for the gooseberry fool with blueberry ice cream and Italian meringue despite also hankering after the cherry cake – I was interested in this restaurant’s apparent specialism in gooseberries and this dessert was actually very good, with its slightly unusual ingredients blending together nicely. My friends chose the cherry cake with apple sorbet and compote, the coffee cake with sheep’s ice cream and apricot purée, and the cheese selection. The selection included Cais na Tire (sheep), Cooleeney (goat), Crozier blue (sheep), crackers, and quince membrillo, although the red dessert wine that was supposed to come with the cheese was not available so my friend was given port instead.
This was a really enjoyable meal with friendly service and a good menu selection, including for vegetarians. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are visiting Galway.