The Prom Restaurant in the Salthill Hotel brought back some happy memories of my very first experiences of really fine foods.
The year was 1968 and Hollywood had come to County Galway with the making of the film Alfred the Great just outside Loughrea. Many of the stars and crew were staying at the Salthill Hotel and I had just landed a summer job there as a barman. I had an absolute ball that summer, not just because the movie people were great tippers (and they were ), but I became very friendly with the head chef.
He introduced me to dishes like lobster thermidor and chicken á la king, both of which he would prepare over at least two or three days, constantly reducing the stock and increasing the flavours. The restaurant had a great name and I do not think many places had lobster on the menu back in 1968. I owe him and his wife (who was my boss in the bar ) a great deal as they both looked after me (I was 14 ) and introduced me to some great food.
The Salthill Hotel is now many times bigger than it was back then, and the Prom Restaurant is open every night serving a selection of brasserie type dishes. When we arrived we were served a dish of crispy bread pieces and some of the best homemade sundried tomato pesto, really tasty. I sampled a starter of Caesar salad with croutons, crispy bacon, and Parmesan, €6.95. The lettuce and dressing were fresh and tasty but the crispy bacon was crisped to the point of being inedible. My companion had the smoked salmon with capers, brown bread, and lemon aioli, €9.95. The salmon was fine but the dressing that came was a sweet pepper type, it was good but not as expected.
For mains I had the evening special of plaice with a smoked salmon flavoured sauce on a bed of mash, €14.95. It was a large portion and the plaice was as fresh as can be with a good sauce. My companion’s monkfish with dill baby roast potatoes, star anise, and orange beurre blanc was the best dish without a doubt, €17.95. The sauce in particular was super, in fact I stole some of it to put on my plaice dish, and the dill roasted baby potatoes is something I will try at home. We had two glasses of house wine, a Pinot Grigio and a French Chardonnay, both €5.50 per glass.
Although quite full we tried two desserts, a panna cotta with passion fruit coulis was well made, light, and delicious, €5.95, and my tartufo with pistachio ice cream would keep any dessert lover happy.