Sunday service at the Connemara Coast

Is Sunday lunch a thing of the past? It has certainly changed. It is far more informal than in the past and it doesn’t even need to be strictly at lunchtime. These days, a Sunday lunch at home is just as likely to be a one-pot dish prepared in advance, a stir-fry, or pulled pork rather than a proper roast. In the summer it can be a barbecue or an al fresco picnic, perhaps with ice-cream and fruit, in the colder months, slow-roast lamb with seasonal vegetables and a hot pudding are the order of the day.

Always a popular way to get the whole family out and sitting around a table to relax, Sunday lunch has moved into a whole new phase. Forget about the carvery lunch of old, what we are seeing more of now is an outing where the venue is chosen so that family members of all ages can get together and enjoy a meal, often at a more reasonable price than is usual at dinner, without the hassle of shopping, cooking and, most importantly of all, washing up. In England there is a long held tradition of the country pub Sunday lunch - while here in Ireland, the tradition has largely become the preserve of the large hotels and country houses.

The Connemara Coast Hotel has long been among the ranks of hotels offering a well priced Sunday lunch menu. This beautifully located hotel is an attractive building which makes the best possible use of its well appointed site without intruding on the surroundings. Set on the sea side of the road, in its own extensive grounds, it is hard to believe that it is only 10 minutes' drive to Galway. An impressive foyer filled with fresh flowers sets the tone on entering, and spacious public areas include a mezzanine and library, and there is a pleasant outdoor patio area between the hotel and lapping waves.

Facilities include two cosy interconnected bars, where you can enjoy a relaxing pint, a bar food menu is available here daily with a tasty selection of snacks and pub grub. There are two restaurants, a children’s playroom and playground, and a leisure centre — the policy of constant refurbishment and upgrading makes for a well-cared for atmosphere. This likeable hotel is understandably popular for conferences and weddings — the facilities and service are both excellent, and the location is little short of magical.

At the Connemara Coast you will find a friendly welcome from the front desk onwards. A buffet breakfast is available, along with lunch and dinner menus, plus snacks on offer throughout the day. The Sunday lunch menu is served in both hotel restaurants with a full choice of drinks from the bar and the usual hot beverage options. The room is open and bright with comfortable upholstered chairs, conducive to a relaxed meal.

We recently popped in to the restaurant to sample the Sunday fare. The menu reflects the Sunday clientele, a compact but well-judged menu featuring a traditional Sunday roast with other family favourites on offer. The appealing menus are changed daily (a boon for regular diners and guests staying for several nights ). They offer a wide range of dishes, notably local seafood, and local meats are often represented. Welcoming details such as proper butter pats and nutty bread make a good first impression in this elegantly appointed sea view restaurant. It represents good value with four course priced at €27.50, individually starters are €6.50, mains €15, and desserts €4.95. Friendly, smartly dressed staff preside over the spacious room and we were quickly seated in the comfortable seats that offered uninterrupted views of the sea. The starters offered were a short but pleasant list, such as superfood salad or creamy chowder. We sampled a beautifully cooked seafood timbale and a goats cheese and peach salad.

From the list of mains we decide on one of the Sunday roasts, lamb with all the trimmings and the BLT, linguini with bacon and sun-dried tomato cream sauce. Both were well judged and very enjoyable. The children's menu at the Connemara Coast is better than most, baked fish, spaghetti with tomato sauce, half portions from the main menu are no problem and the portion sizes are spot on. We finished with a satisfyingly sweet poached pear and an Eton mess, which were the perfect ending to a good meal.

This menu is based on classics, this is the area that the Connemara Coast excels in, there was care shown to every dish sent out from the kitchen. Everything is accurately cooked, correctly seasoned, and well presented — and, with well paced service to match the confident cooking, the knowledgeable and chatty staff make eating here a pleasure. The set menu is good value and there is calm and assured service from beginning to end. This is food for all tastes in a cosy hotel setting and service with a huge, beaming, smile.

If you want to take a break from your normal Sunday routine, and enjoy a quality dinner in a relaxed atmosphere, then the Connemara Coast for Sunday lunch is some of the best value we have come across.

Connemara Coast Hotel, Furbo, Co Galway. Phone (091 ) 592 108. Email [email protected].

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