The Gallery Café, Queen Street, Gort

Catch of the day at The Gallery Café.

Catch of the day at The Gallery Café.

Over the past few years Gort has had a lot of bad press about the state of the road, the endless traffic jams, and of course the really bad flooding. Now that the town has been bypassed one might be forgiven for thinking that it is probably a ghost town with crater-sized potholes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The town has a super new smooth tarmac road all the way through it, nearly every premises has huge flowering hanging baskets and it is quite busy, in fact it looks very well. The phrase gorgeous Gort is being used by local businesses, and they are living up to this claim. One place that has seen a major transformation is The Gallery Café; you may have seen it located in the square area of Gort, painted a funky colour and indeed I was there back in 2006 and had some very good food. The Gallery Café has moved to a new premises, just off the main street at the junction where Supermac’s is located. The new premises is as funky as the last and must be 10 times the size of the previous one.

Now, you are thinking, brave move in the depths of recession, well on the Friday that I visited the only words that came to me were ‘what recession?’ I decided to book earlier in the day, and just as well, as at 7.30pm I got the last table, several people after me had to walk away or agree to come back much later.

The kitchen is open and I recognised the chef, late of Bar 8 and The Old Schoolhouse in Clarinbridge. The chef looked under pressure, but then that is what all chefs prefer. The tables are an eclectic variety of shapes and sizes, the same with the seating, in fact some of the seats are chairs from a 1960s ladies’ hairdressers, complete with beehive shaped dryers! I kid you not. There are books everywhere and a massive collection of DC comics if you want to browse. One very noticeable fact was the number of women who were dining out; this is true in nearly every restaurant I visit. Women must account for 70 to 80 per cent of restaurant business today, somewhat of a major change from 20 years ago.

The menu has starters of salads, bruschetta, bowls of mussels, mezze, cheese, soups, and more. The mains are lamb cutlets, steak, fish of the day, fresh pastas, and 10 or more pizza choices. We chose a bruschetta which was a clever take on the traditional way it is served, the sourdough bread was sliced mega thin and toasted, then covered with really thin ribbons of courgettes, tomatoes, and our choice of cheese, in this case it was brie plus of course olive oil, €6.50. It was really tasty and, unless you are very hungry, perfect for two. The wine list varies from €18 to €30 per bottle and there is also a carafe of 500ml for €14. We chose the carafe of sauvignon/semillon from France, it was top class. I recommend you ask for the carafe to be put in an ice bucket to keep it chilled.

For mains, I chose the catch of the day, fried hake in a bed of asparagus and fresh peas with a side serving of new potatoes, €17.50. It was very good and I cleared my plate to get the last morsel, not something I often do. My companions had pizza, 9” Margherita, €7.50, and a 9” pizza with roasted beetroot, baby spinach, goats cheese, roasted hazelnut, and Parmesan. The Margherita was quickly eaten by my 11-year-old diner and the more unusual one, while well made, was professed to be a combination of ingredients that did not work well.

The desserts are all home-made and displayed on the counter, lots of cakes, tarts, cupcakes and more. We chose a chocolate brownie, €3.50, and a tiramisu, €4.50. The brownies came with ice cream and were as good as I have tasted. The tiramisu was huge and floating in a good mix of coffee and alcohol. They serve my absolute favourite Dodo and Badger coffee and a cappuccino cost €2.50.

During the meal, I met some local people that I know and asked if The Gallery is always this busy, the answer was yes, well done to The Gallery Café and the people of Gort dining out and supporting one of their local restaurants. For bookings call (091 ) 630301.

Finally, a note to recipe hunters, a sometimes forgotten resource of great books is your library. All have a cookery book section and if they do not have the book you are hunting just ask for it to be ordered and you will have it an a week or so. It is a great way to find a few recipes without spending €10 to €20 on a book that you may only take one or two recipes from.

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