Ann and Emily Gray’s Gallery 29 Café on Mullingar’s Oliver Plunkett Street has been a bit of an institution for more than a decade, supporting local producers and produce while also serving a menu that’s particularly conscious of seasonality.
On arrival it’s modestly spacious to the front, the white painted walls over wood-panelling disappearing down one side into what is a galley restaurant that leads to the kitchen. Along the way a selection of Robert Crawford’s seascapes line the wall, reminding you that this is also a gallery. In the kitchen, between the rustle and clatter of the pans and cooking utensils, and the smell of fresh bread, and the frying off of fishcakes, Joe Duffy can be heard telling his listeners the Liveline is open for business. Apart from the odd hushed conversation, presumably between Ann and Emily, and the tip-tap of teacups on saucers, and the rustle of newspapers, there are few other audible sounds despite the restaurant being moderately full towards the last reminder of lunchtime.
Daily specials are scribbled on a blackboard to the front of the café, while the menu begins with soup of the day served with fresh baked bread (€4.90 ). Three hot dishes follow: pan fried salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes and lemon-and-herb mayonnaise (€12.50 ); salmon, spinach, and feta cheese tart (€12.50 ); and shepherd’s pie topped with creamed potato mash (€9.90 ). All are served with baked potato chips.
A fourth hot dish of open-baked potato cake (from €9.50 ) comes with the choice of three toppings: crispy bacon lardons, country relish, and melted mozzarella; roast chicken, chutney, roast peppers, and melted cheese; and roast red pepper, red onion marmalade, sautéed mushrooms, and sweet pepper relish topped with melted Brie. All are served with a salad of mixed leaves.
Like all good cafés, there’s a selection of sandwiches (€4.50 each ) to suit all tastes, from their BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes on toasted bread ) to open chicken and mayonnaise with roasted walnuts, sliced apple, and greens served on homemade brown bread. Going a little bit more adventurous and served on freshly baked focaccia with a salad of mixed leaves there are three alternatives from €8.50: marinated tandoori chicken with red onion marmalade and roast pepper topped with melted cheese; honey glazed ham, beef tomato, and basil mayonnaise topped with melted mozzarella; and a vegetarian option that includes roast red pepper, red onion marmalade, sautéed mushrooms, and sweet pepper relish, topped with melted Brie.
Getting into the category for which the café is best renowned, desserts (from €2.50 ) include caramel slice, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate brownie, carrot cake, Normandy pear and almond tartlet, apple tart, lemon cake, mixed fruit berry crumble, summer fruit bakewell tart, and bread-and-butter pudding, among others, all of which are generally homemade and served warm with softly whipped cream.
Overall, an ideal getaway for a quiet morning coffee with a slice of cake or for something more substantial as the day progresses without being overly complicated or overindulged.
Gallery 29 Café on Oliver Plunkett Street in Mullingar is open Thursday to Saturday from 9am until 6pm. Contact (044 ) 9349449 for booking.