Sundays on Sandy Road

The Maldron Hotel on Sandy Road has had various incarnations. The Courtyard by Marriot Hotel, as it was many moons ago, changed to the Pillo Hotel and most recently became a Maldron, sister hotel to the Oranmore Maldron. A modern building on the the fringes of the city, this is a landmark with its glazed exterior and its location opposite The Menlo Park. The glass frontage points you towards the Headford Road, and inside, the high-vaulted reception space combines international airport chic and modern design which has not dated since opening as The Courtyard over a decade ago. Set back from the busy road that encircles the city, it also has the advantage of being just minutes from the centre of town with free underground parking.

Attentive service starts at the front desk and you are directed to the Point Bar and Olive Tree Bistro area to one side, a darker, more cosy, space in contrast. The bar is always buzzing at the weekend, it is a popular lunch spot for sports enthusiasts with its big screens visible from most seats. The bistro is quieter and more conducive to a relaxed meal. It is popular with families and there are usually a few couples with young children in tow. The menu reflects the Sunday clientele, a compact but well-judged menu featuring a traditional Sunday roast with many other family favourites on offer. It represents good value and is also served in the bar area.

We popped in to the bistro end to sample the menu 'en famille'. Friendly and smartly dressed staff preside over the spacious room and we were quickly seated in the comfortable banquette seating beside the extensive window. The menu offers a balance of crowd pleasers such as steak sandwich, lasagne, and fish and chips. It is a user-friendly general bistro menu anchored in traditional bar food — which then wanders happily across continents for some more innovative options. There is a dish of kale and Thai chilli tiger prawn salad with oyster dressing on a bed of rice noodle. Vegetarians can enjoy a roasted chickpea burger or Thai green curry. We decided on the Sunday special of roast beef and the catch of the day, salmon in a white wine sauce, both great value with a price tag of €11.50 each.

The children's menu at the Maldron is better than most, soup, grilled chicken burger, half portions of the day's roast, and the all important chocolate brownie and selection of good quality ice-cream are offered, and the portion sizes are spot on. The carbonara arrived with penne and not the advertised tagliatelle, but no matter as the pasta was perfectly cooked with plenty of bacon and mushrooms and a sauce as cheesy as a nineties boy band. The goujons of fresh cod were also well received. Children's mains are €6.50 and desserts a mere €3.00 — happy kids for under €10 a head.

Our own list of desserts was short and sweet, made in house, and served with vanilla ice cream and freshly whipped cream on elaborately decorated plates. We finished with a satisfyingly sharp lemon meringue pie and at only €4.50, well, why not?

There was care shown to every dish sent out from the kitchen, all presented by a competent and efficient staff. If you want to take a break from your normal Sunday routine, and enjoy some simple, good food in a relaxed atmosphere then The Maldron on Sandy Road has some of the best value in town.

Maldron Hotel, Sandy Road, Galway. Phone (091 ) 513 200. [email protected].

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