Eating out — an alternative proposal

Free oysters in Moycullen.

Free oysters in Moycullen.

I was invited to a fundraising dinner in a friend’s house recently and, not knowing quite what to expect, was amazed to see how someone’s house could be transformed into a lovely dining environment. I believe that it could be a way for people to enjoy good food at much less than restaurant prices and a great way to meet people. My hypothesis is this — why are restaurants charging the prices they are? High rent, high rent, and high rent and this is why they need two and three sittings on a night. So what could be possible if you had no rent to pay? You could charge prices that lots of people who do not eat out would find very attractive. This could be done by a couple of people who can have a flair for cooking, have a spacious home, and like to entertain people.

It could operate on the basis that you book your place at dinner, be prepared to eat from a very small but home cooked menu, perhaps sitting at one or two communal tables, bring your own wine with free corkage (to get over the licensing laws ) and leave a donation for the food as you leave. Sure, I know this is very simplistic and there are many rules and regulations to be observed, but do we really have to take every single piece of EU legislation and police it like our very lives depend on it? The regulations governing food production having taken on a life of their own which is driving food producers crazy. As an example, I met a fisherman who fishes for oysters in his currach and he recently received a notification from a Government department stating that his currach is now deemed a ‘food production unit’ and must comply with God knows how many regulations. I am not aware of any serious epidemic of food poisoning and yet these laws seem to grow and grow.

It would be nice to visit a home/restaurant where the owners greeted you on arrival, where you are encouraged to meet the other diners, where you can drink your own fine wine at cost price, and where there is no rush to replace you with another customer. The ‘house donation’ could be left as you depart and if it was a good experience you could book again for next week? It could work and if someone attempts it I will be there.

Meanwhile I visited the latest country market to open on Friday last. It is in Moycullen, commencing at 1pm each Friday and located near the Forge Bar. The layout is really good and there are lots of parking spaces and the stalls are all in a line making access very easy.

With the growth of home producers, why do we not have a mid-week Galway market? I know the traders would love to have one, and from a practical point of view how are the customers in Galway city supposed to buy everything on a Saturday with no possibility of topping up during the week? Surely it would bring lots of people in to the city during the quiet mid-week and this can only be a good thing for all the shops. It could even be used to help newcomers with food ideas and give them a special section where for a period of time they could show their wares to the public and do some test marketing. The public want artisan produced food but the small producers have nowhere to showcase it, except at the few country markets. Cork city and county has made a small industry at promoting locally produced foodstalls — so why not Galway?

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