Sunday lunch at The Ardilaun

I will admit straight off that I am no stranger to making myself at home in The Ardilaun. You cannot beat it for location in leafy Taylor's Hill. It is intimate and friendly, the hotel lobby is like a gigantic comfy sitting room. As far as the food goes, this hotel has it covered from morning to night. It comes as no surprise that the menus in The Ardilaun are a cut above the usual hotel fare.

This famous old hotel dates back to about 1840 and has been in the ownership of the Ryan family for more than 50 years. Since then extensions and renovations have extended the hotel considerably, but without giving up its gentle, old-world atmosphere. It is today as it has always been, a well-run establishment where friendly staff make a good impression from the outset. The welcoming lobby area is a charming yet convenient meeting place and pleasant spot to sit for a coffee and scone. As one of Galway's most popular wedding and conference venues and accommodation it is equally suited to business and weddings guests, and the in-house leisure facilities, including swimming pool, attract families and couples on short breaks. As they say themselves, it is "one of the few Galway hotels to realise that you cannot have a family break without all of the family," and so garden rooms are available for their four legged guests also.

Some of the spacious, comfortably furnished, public areas overlook mature gardens at the back, including the main hotel restaurant, The Camilaun, where there is a real sense of occasion. The dining here is traditional in style with white linen and formal service; breakfast is also served in this elegant room, where you can enjoy a fry, eggs Benedict, pancakes, or porridge. If you fancy a coffee and cake you can choose from the delectable display in the lounge, or book yourself in for afternoon tea — with a selection of gourmet sandwiches, fruit scones, preserves, and fresh cream, there is something to appeal to everyone.

The restaurant serves modernised classics with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, produce in a bright and airy room. The newest menu, the Sunday lunch served from 1pm, must certainly have the broadest appeal yet. There is an excellent main course, unbeatable value at €15 including all the trimmings you would expect, gravy, fresh vegetables, creamy mash, and chips if you want. And you do not have to wash up after it, cheap at twice the price for all the mammies and daddies looking for a Sunday off duty. There is an impressive children's menu, unusually offering options for the very small and young adults too. If you opt for the two course fixed price for a main course and the choice from the very good dessert buffet, you cannot go far wrong. The choices are mostly traditional, prawn cocktail, Caesar salad, roasts and veg, but the desserts offer everyones favourites and a bit more.

It is ultimately the staff that make The Ardilaun so special, informed, warm, and thoroughly people-oriented. They are endlessly inventive in creating their product — be that food, drink, or the experience, always dreaming up new ways of making it more enjoyable for their customers. Great for families, couples and groups, whoever coined the phrase "You can't please all of the people all of the time" probably never spent any time in The Ardilaun hotel.

The Ardilaun hotel, Taylor's Hill, Galway. Tel: 091 521433. Email: [email protected].

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