The Westwood House Hotel and Kinvara Market

The Westwood House Hotel

It had been a long time since I dined at the Westwood House Hotel, and when I visited there lately I was reminded of the great meals and fine wines I had there many years ago when it was owned and run by Bernie Casey. I visited the main dining room called the Meridian Restaurant and browsed the menus. There is a value dining menu where for €22.50 you can have any two courses, or for €24.95, any three courses. Both offers include a free drink of choice for each diner in the bar (from Sunday to Thursday ).

The free drink at the bar raises a thought that I have often had, and that is why Irish restaurants seldom if every offer a drink on the house before or after a meal. It is normal practice in many countries to do this, and wouldn’t it be a creative way of building good customer relations now that things are tougher in the restaurant business? Well done to the Westwood for doing a version of this. There is also an à la carte menu with a somewhat wider selection, but with a choice of five starters and five mains on the value menu I recommend you stick with that. There are plenty of gluten free and vegetarian choices. I also noticed a new acronym ‘GF’, which means that the dish is available gluten free or as normal.

The dining room has had a makeover since I was there last with the addition of some very modern wallpaper on the panels around the room. We were seated towards the rear of the restaurant, but I would recommend a table close to the entrance as it is more airy and you get some natural light. The tables are a good size and all are dressed with white tablecloths. Service is very prompt and professional and it was nice to be offered water from a choice of sparkling, still, or a jug of tap water. There is a selection of four very competitively priced house wines for €15 per bottle. I tried the Chilean sauvignon blanc and it was fine. This must be the cheapest house wine in Galway.

For starters we had seafood chowder, which was loaded with fish and a big portion. The taste was excellent and it would be enough to satisfy most people on its own. We also had Connemara smoked salmon with lime and chive crème fraiche. The salmon had a wonderful taste and the combination of lime rather that lemon gave it a nice zingy taste. Again it was a bigger portion than I could finish. Next up was the grilled halibut, which was good although a little overcooked. The sauce and pan fried sliced potato that accompanied it were delicious. My companion had the grilled fillets of sea bass with sweet chilli and coriander with butter. This was cooked perfectly; however, I think that the sea bass needs something more than a grilling to add flavours. There was a side portion of aubergines that were very good. For dessert, we had Mississippi mud pie which was melting nicely on the plate and a large crème brulée with passion fruit and a really good caramel top. For bookings call (091 ) 521442.

Kinvara Country Market

If you want to visit a country market with tons of atmosphere then you must Kinvara Country Market. The market is located just off the main street in the village. The market is open on Fridays from 10am to 2pm and is a must visit, particularly if you live in the general area. It is in the rear of one of the buildings in the main street and there are outbuildings where you can buy coffee and cakes and then walk on through to the rear of the yard which is a grassy garden area where you can sit down and enjoy your snack. There is live traditional music and every stall is a genuine artisan producer selling great breads, chutneys, vegetables, plants, cakes, fish, and meat straight from the farm, organic chickens, jams, sauces, and fantastic German cooked sausages. It is simply one of the nicest markets in the county.

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