For me, it all started with a tuna sandwich. There was a time that I lived just round the corner from Anton's and was as comfortable there as in my own dining room. Anton's has been deservedly rewarded with many years of success on Father Griffin Road.
The café has a pretty outdoor seating section, while inside the walls are often hung with local artists' exhibitions. The room always has an encouraging blend of bohemian types, students, and suited and booted business people.
It has long been a Galway favourite for a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes, or granola with yoghurt. It is popular also for a mid-morning catch up over coffee and cake with scones, muffins, and indulgent homemade desserts made fresh daily.
Anton's specialises in wholesome yet scrumptious lunchtime food, with tasty, generous, sandwiches and salads. The foccaccia and brown bread on the menu is baked fresh in the kitchen each morning and preservative-free. It fills up quickly for lunch, so sneak in early to be sure of getting a table. Failing that, all the lunchtime fare is available to take away.
The specials change daily and are listed on the blackboard. On a recent return visit I was sorely tempted to try the steak sandwich on foccaccia bread with horseradish cream cheese, or the cherry tomato and spinach fritatta. In the end I just had to have the famous red hot tuna - as good as I remembered it, made-to-order, fairly big and definitely delicious. There are about five salads available - smoked chicken with apricot and pistachio nuts, or mozzarella, avocado, and tomato with a basil oil - though it's a tough call to pick one over another. My dining companion settled on a goat’s cheese salad, the cheese lightly pan-fried with a nutty cous-cous crust, one of the better salads I have tasted in the city. An amazing house dressing arrives in a ceramic pot to anoint your dish with as much or as little as suits you, we of course had lots. There were also two orders of smoked bacon, avocado, and tomato sandwiches with red onion marmalade which my other companions refused to share - surely a compliment in itself.
All sandwiches are priced at a very reasonable €6.50 and salads are around the €9.50 mark. My companion accompanied her meal with the soup of the day, a bowl of smokey fish goodness with chunky pieces of salmon, hake, and haddock at €5.50. It being January and with a nod to the traditional New Year health kick I tried a foaming glass of freshly squeezed orange, pineapple, and mint juice, clean tasting and zingy at €3.
We passed on the bakes, lovely and all as they looked. A gluten-free brownie, chocolate muffin, mixed berry and almond tartlets, or banana bread were all available on the day we were there.
Last year, for the first time, Anton's opened for an evening service, Thursday to Saturday, serving a small but perfectly formed menu from 6pm to 9.30pm, with a selection of red and white wines. If I remember correctly there was crab, grapefruit, and saffron aioli, a cheese and meat platter with blue cheese, bacon and chives scones, rib eye steak with fries, among other dishes. Anton's is re-opening again this year for dinner on February 14, soon there will be even more hours in the day to enjoy a meal there.
Anton's manages to be homely, comforting, and cute with considerable style. If you are looking to find a new place to eat, look no further.
Anton's Cafe, 12 Father Griffin Road, Galway. Tel: (091) 582 067.