Fintan and Michelle Hyland have done it again — they have come up with what is, I believe, a winning formula that builds on their three successful patisseries/delis that have been a source of great food in the city over the past few years.
The latest venture, just across from the church in Salthill, is a well designed and very carefully thought out venture. The restaurant stocks their cakes, sandwiches, and deli products, as you would find in the other shops, however at the rear it has a 60-seater restaurant serving very exciting food indeed. There is also an area outside with French-style pavement seating where you can order your favourite cakes and tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. The really good news is that the price is the same as you would normally pay for take-away plus a few cents extra to cover the difference in the VAT (13.5 per cent for eating in versus zero per cent for takeaway ). You can also have a great value all-day breakfast from 7.30am until 11.30pm; it costs €7.95 and you get Colleran’s rashers and sausages, black and white pudding, tomato, sautéed potatoes, cooked eggs of your choice, multi seed or white bread, and coffee of choice.
However, I want to concentrate on the main restaurant area. It is open from 6.30pm to 11.30pm, seven days a week. There are no early bird or midweek deals, just a great value four course meal for €25. You can also opt for any individual course, priced separately. The restaurant décor is very simple, but classy, the lighting in particular is very cool and, more importantly, each table is lit so you can read the menu and see what you are eating (this would seem an obvious necessity, but how often have you squinted to read a menu? ). The loos are similarly designed to a very high level with a pot of fresh orchids to add to the classy interior.
I ordered the seasonal risotto with fried sage and parmesan foam; in this case it was a wild mushroom risotto and perfectly executed. The helping was big enough to have as a snack on its own. My guest had a very cleverly presented fresh Rossaveal crab with mussels a la Greque, some sourdough toast, and chorizo mayonnaise. It is all served on a wooden platter and the portion of crabmeat contained in a Kilner jar. Top marks for presentation and top marks for taste and portion size.
Next came the homemade passionfruit sorbet, it was velvety and smooth and delicious. For main course I had ocean trout with grape, almond, and orzo salad and caper butter. Orzo is a tiny pasta shape that resembles a biggish grain of rice, and boy was it delicious. The trout skin was roasted crisp and the centre of the trout still had the fresh pink colour that tells you the fish is cooked just right. My companion had the special of the night (all specials can be part of the €25 four course dinner ). It was a caramelised pork belly with braised turnip, onion, and apple puree. It was a melt in the mouth piece of pork and the superb and innovative presentation of the onion and turnip made it very special (on its own this would have been €14.50 ).
To accompany our main courses we pushed the boat out and ordered fries and mixed green salad costing a more than fair price of €2.20 each. The fries were homemade from real potatoes and delicious, and the huge vivid green salad was topped with equally vivid fresh red pomegranate seeds. My guest wolfed it down in silence. To accompany the meal we had a glass each of pinot grigio and a French sauvignon blanc. Wines are priced from €18.50 to €24 a bottle.
Next on to the dessert menu and the most impressive thing about it was that each dessert is a creation of the restaurant kitchen and not one of the normally available desserts from the Gourmet Tart Co range. I had an apple tart fine with butterscotch sauce, almond, and vanilla ice cream, while my guest had sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and banana ice cream. Both desserts were 10/10, as was all of the meal throughout the evening.
The value offered for €25 is really about as good as it gets in Galway, and while you can probably walk in now and get a table, I predict that you will soon have to book. A lot of thought and effort has gone into creating what is a very accomplished new venture. Congratulations to Fintan, Michelle, and all the staff at Gourmet Tart Co. Telephone (091 ) 861667.
There is a ‘meet the producer’ day in the Enjoy deli, beside White Gables in Moycullen, this Saturday. The company is an Irish artisan producer of sweet treats such as nougat, caramel sweets, and great handmade lollipops. I am sure there will be lots of samples so why not call in and meet Nicole or check
out her website www.pandorabell.ie
Correction: I made a mistake in my article two weeks ago about the Old School Restaurant in Clarinbridge, when I said they were closed on Tuesdays. They are closed on Mondays only. Telephone (091 ) 796898.