Having recently been in a very busy pub in Navan that served an excellent chicken a la king with rice at lunchtime at a cost of €5, I decided to walk around Galway city centre and see if there was lunch available to compete with that level of price.
Why bother with a decent lunch anyway? Most of us have worked for at least half our working day by lunchtime and if we are to have enough energy to finish the day some kind of sustenance is needed. There have been many studies which confirm that having a lunch will allow you to function much better in the afternoon. Items like crisps, Mars bars, limp sandwiches, and cups of your favourite beverage may give the illusion of feeding you but in reality they are not. Without a decent lunch you will be famished by the time you are driving home and the temptation will be there to buy a takeaway or something re-heatable. Having a good lunch means you can cook up a tasty snack in the evening at your leisure without those hunger pangs that probably make you irritable.
So what bargains are available? For my search, I concentrated on hot dishes on a plate or in a bowl — not sandwiches of any sort or burgers. Most places do advertise their offerings at the front of the premises, but surprisingly a few did not have any prices. In fact while driving home I noticed an enormous sign on the new Pillo Hotel (formerly the Mariott ). This announced it has great lunch deals, but what does that mean? To get people in the door the price has to be loud and clear in the advertising. The average price seems to be about €9.50 for a main course, topping out at about €11.75. Getting back to my original question, is there a hot lunch available for €5?
There is indeed, in a pub at the top Dominick Street called E Brún and advertised outside was Irish stew and brown bread for €5. I ordered the said Irish stew and was served a bowl of what I would call a brown stew, lots of meat, chunky carrots, and potato pieces. It was tasty and the gravy part tasted good. It is available seven days a week and while the dish may change it will keep the €5 price each day. I have been intrigued about this pub and although I had never been in it before I always noted while passing that it looked very homely. There is a brief history of the premises in a frame along with many pictures of the original owner, Eibhlín De Brún. She seemed to be a formidable woman, as she ran a post office there for some 60 years. She was apparently an avid Gaelgeoir and a friend of people like Eamon de Valera and Sean T O’Ceallaigh. The name has remained over the door but in the last few years it has been transformed into a very cosy and immaculately clean pub (with a hot lunch for a fiver ).
The nearest price after that was in the Orange Café in Augustine Street with lasagne and chips for €6.75. The Tulsi Indian restaurant was advertising a single main course of lamb rogan josh with tea or coffee for €7.95. Moving down towards Woodquay, McSwiggan’s had a pasta primavera main course for €7.95 and a dish called ‘The Daily Taster’ for €3.95. The daily taster was advertised as braised beef, vegetable, and potato and I assumed it is a small portion of same. I talked to one of the staff and he confirmed that it is indeed similar to a half a main course and is available each day. Is it popular? Extremely, I was told, and at that price it is surely THE best value in town. There are many people who want a small tasty snack at lunchtime and I for one would be a fan of this idea, fair play to Mc Swiggan’s.
The next one I spotted was the GBC in Williamsgate Street advertising a daily special for €7.50, but unfortunately there was nothing to say what it was.
I was surprised that I did not see any establishments offering free tea or coffee with the main course as this would be an easy way to make the lunch deal more attractive. Adding €2.50 to an average €9.50 lunch makes it expensive and if you have to add approximately €2 more for parking then people will not be enticed in to town for a lunch. I am not suggesting that restaurants should have a price war, however in these financially difficult times people will not go out for lunch unless it is a very good deal. Winter warmers like shepherds pie, Irish stew, Guinness stew, curries, and similar one pot dishes do not have to be enormous to find favour with customers if the price in enticing.
At this point the winner is Mc Swiggan’s with E Brun a close second.
If you spot any lunch offers that our readers should hear about please email me [email protected]