If you enjoy great food and have not yet discovered the treasures awaiting you at the relatively new Artisan Restaurant in Quay Street, then you have a real treat in store for yourself. It is located upstairs over Tigh Neachtain’s pub where Ard Bia was located before its move to the Spanish Arch. The restaurant is run by Matt Skeffington who does the job of maitre d’ in a pretty cool and efficient style. The kitchen is run by head chef Sylvain Gatay, and he has produced a menu which is quite wide ranging and with regional French flavours to many of the dishes on offer. The restaurant is not large so booking is recommended at weekends. The food is brilliant and the atmosphere perhaps could best be described as cool, lively, and happy.
I was part of a party of four people which meant that we were able to order a wide variety of dishes, thus allowing for a comprehensive review of what is on offer.
The wine list is in the process of being revised so some of the wines were not available. We chose an excellent full bodied Ripasso to partner the game dishes we had. If you fancy a pint then a trip downstairs to the bar can be organised for you, thus ensuring that any non wine drinkers will be catered for. We decided to order a regular jug of tap water and it came nicely presented with ice, slice of lemon, lime, and a sprig of mint.
My starter was a warm salad of confit of quail and smoked bacon topped with poached quails eggs for €9.95 and it was simply superb. The quail had far more meat than I anticipated and the intensity of flavours combined with the fact that it was not dried out, as is often the case, made it one of the best I have had. We also sampled the creamy goat’s cheese, coated with toasted hazelnuts on a bed of roasted beetroot and salad leaves for €9.50. I am not a fan of goat’s cheese but my companion rated it as the best ever. Our two other starters were baked rabbit sausages set on a black pudding mash with a light jus, and oven baked organic salmon and crab cake served with a lime and sweet chilli drizzle, both for €8.95. They were both eaten with gusto and I can vouch for them as I nibbled some of each — all top class.
Now for the main courses, I had the duo of confit of pork belly and roast suckling pig, served with champ potato and thyme reduction at €23.95. The taste of fresh thyme worked really well with the strong flavours and I have to give it full marks for presentation and taste. We also had pan roasted supreme of guinea fowl with braised savoy cabbage and a light flat leaf parsley cream at €18.40. This was perfectly cooked and the balance of flavours worked really well. The trio of game will probably be my choice when I return; it comprised a small dish of venison casserole, pan fried breast of wood pigeon, and some wild boar sausage. On a cold winter’s night it is a seriously heart warming dinner, price €24.95. The meats were all melt in the mouth and the venison in particular was excellent. Our fourth main course was from the ‘specials of the day’. It was brill served with prawns in a delicious sauce. Side orders are available for €3.50 each but unless you are really hungry you do not need them. We all chose a selection of mini desserts which were served on a very cleverly designed glass dish and my highlight was the cheesecake.
As you can guess I was bowled over by the experience at Artisan, there are several menus that you can choose from, Sunday brunch with selections like eggs Benedict, egg Florentine, Sunday pancakes; lunch every day; and dinner each evening. Call (091 ) 532655, or visit www.artisangalway.com
Artisan is one of those places that you simply have to visit and would be a great place to go with friends who appreciate interesting food.