A lot of the hotels in Galway can be divided into two types. The first kind was built in recent years, a result of the economic boom, largely run by professional management companies whose brief was to merely keep the business afloat and get 'heads in beds'. Flannery's is the other sort of Galway hotel. It is part of the landscape and the fabric of life in the city east area, providing employment and welcoming guests from Ireland and many parts of the world since it first opened in 1969.
These family-owned and run local hotels provide a background to life, boom or bust. Weddings, funerals, Communions and confirmations, anniversaries, birthdays, and christenings all pass through their doors. Venues like Flannery's are at the centre of many life events, providing the food and friendly service that make them memorable.
We popped in to sample the lunch menu on Sunday en famille and were rewarded for our detour. The Galwegian Restaurant is not just a hotel restaurant, it is a family restaurant, and an extension of the local neighbourhood. Three generations of local women sat at the table beside us and all around were families sitting among the tourists and overnight guests. The menu reflects the clientele, a very good traditional Irish carvery with many family favourites on offer.
Starters of creamy soup, chowder, and light salads were great, but the smart choice for mains for anyone in the know is the roast leg of lamb. This is a hotel that rears its own sheep at the family-owned farm in Glasson, Athlone. This shows in the quality of the meat which was meltingly tender — lamb at its unadulterated best. There were lots of other choices and each meat paired with a traditional accompaniment — honey baked ham in a cider sauce, or herb crumbed hake in a creamy leek sauce looked tempting. Vegetarians often fare poorly in these types of restaurants, but here there was plenty of choice for starters and two options for mains, a mushroom risotto or a sweet chilli spring roll, a change from the humdrum pasta that is so often offered.
The children's menu was very much enjoyed by the little people at the table who are still of an age to be impressed by the offer of a starter (the teenage eye-rolling has not kicked in in our house yet ). Soup, melon, goujons of chicken, half portions of the roast, and the all important banana split arrived and departed in quick succession. I will admit that they are not overly fussy children, but they were very happy with their meal nonetheless.
There was care shown to every dish sent out from the kitchen, all presented by a competent and efficient staff, we were never crowded nor were we bereft of attention. The waiting staff in our section were really friendly and attentive and knew most of their regulars by name.
Food is an integral part of Flannery's, we enjoyed our lovely three course meal for just under €20 for each of the adults and just over €10 for the children. An early bird special — two courses with a bottle of wine at €49 for two people — has recently been introduced and is going down a treat with hotel guests and regulars to Frankie's Bar. At this time of year many homes will be hosting Communions or confirmations and you could take an easy and affordable route by letting the good people at Flannery's take the weight off your shoulders, they have a special lunch menu for the occasion. The evening dinner menu has a commendably large selection of fish dishes and all wines are available by the glass for between €5 and €6 with the exception of the prosecco and the rosé.
Put simply, Flannery's is a family hotel, run by the family to be enjoyed by your family.