Having driven past the newly opened Cupán Tae restaurant several times over the past few weeks and noticed that it seemed to be a recreation of a typical English tea room with lots of colourful cups, I decided to see if it tasted as good as it looks. I thought that ‘retro kitchen’ look had disappeared, but I can see the appeal of drinking out of real china cups and being served your scones/cakes on a tiered bonbon dish. The interior is spotless with lots of different china patterns in evidence. The menu includes breakfast, snacks, several types of cakes, lots of different teas, and of course afternoon cream tea.
As it was mid morning, I decided to simply have a coffee and scone with jam and cream. The coffee was served in a delightful floury pattern mug; but it was a mug with elegance in its shape and feel. That was the good news; the bad news is that the coffee came from a press button machine and without much of a real coffee taste. I accept that it is a machine that grinds beans but it is still the equivalent of something you grab in a hurry at a filling station. While the speciality may be tea, most people will expect a coffee to be made from a proper espresso machine, particularly in a new café. My scone was served on a pretty platter as you can see in the picture, however I am afraid that the taste was without any flavour and not helped by the nondescript jam. Perhaps I was unlucky in my choice but that was how it was on the day. My service was excellent and a few small changes could make a big improvement. As I said before, I admire all who open any new business in 2011 but customers need to go, ‘wow, that was super’, to guarantee lots of repeat business. From the outside looking in, I expected it to be wow, maybe next time?
The Bankx restaurant in Liosban Estate has been serving breakfast, snacks, and dinners for a good few years. It has always had a good reputation and is a favourite place for tradesmen and office people alike. Following my article last week in search of great value specials for lunch, I had an email from a very satisfied customer of Bankx restaurant. Most of the lunches are served from the carvery, Monday to Friday, at a price of €8.50 which includes unlimited tea or coffee. However it also serves one special each day for €5 and that was what I wanted to sample. The portion was a full measure and the taste was excellent. The casserole had been cooked slowly for a good few hours and the meat was melt in the mouth, plus lots of mushrooms, peas, and onions. It had a good concentrated taste and was in no way a cheap version of what one might think the chef would do as it had to be sold for €5. The coffee is served in a help yourself container and it was properly brewed coffee.
I asked what the other €5 dinners were during the week and was told that each day it is something different and that it was Bankx’s first week to do this. It had lamb tagine, homemade burger, and a chicken dish. If you assume that coffee is worth a very small €1, then the dinner only costs €4 and that makes it the best value meal in Galway. I would not say this if the quality was mediocre or poor but it was as good as any hearty beef casserole I have eaten. I had a look at what the other diners were eating and in fact most were happily dining on the regular €8.50 lunches, so it is not all about price for everyone.
What is good is that for those who are on a very tight budget they now have a way to afford a good lunch at a price that they could barely cook it for at home. The restaurants that do this will be forgotten when things get better, and Bankx deserve your support. Does it make any money on this? Hard to say, it depends how clever the chef is and of course Bankx would not want the entire clientele coming in and just ordering the special. Right now it is all about ‘bums on seats’ and if you lose your customers it will be the devil of a job to get them back. All businesses need to be continually re-inventing themselves, and now more than ever those that do not respond to changing market forces will simply disappear.