Route 66 barbecue and smoker and The Black Cat, Salthill

When I visited the recent Galway Food Festival at the Spanish Arch I spotted a new venture that might appeal to you if you need to cater for groups of 50 to 250 people. It was pretty hard to miss as it was billowing smoke and had a large crowd of people around it. As you can see in the picture, the Route 66 barbecue is a pretty serious piece of equipment and the idea is that www.galwaycatering.ie will take on all the headache of providing you or your company with great food and zero hassle. It is fully compliant with HSE/EHO regulations, HACCP certified, and certified in food hygiene. These are important considerations when providing a barbecue for a large number of people and something that people may overlook when booking an outside catering company .

One of the things that really appeals to me is the fact that it also smokes food, and if you want something that really is finger lickin’ good then smoked meat is about as good as it gets. The way it works is that you agree the type and cost of a menu and the lads — Anthony and John O’Reilly — will marinate and prep everything in advance of your celebration. I asked what kind of events they will they cater for and although it is new they already have bookings for a wedding, company day out, “significant birthday”, and festivals. If contacting them be sure you use the .ie at the end of the web address. Contact phone number is 086 230 8716.

The Black Cat, Salthill

I had heard really good things about this relatively new tapas restaurant and reckoned it was time to visit. I tried to book for 6.30pm on a Saturday and it was fully booked (a good sign ). When I suggested Sunday I was told that I would be able to enjoy a jazz duo from 6pm, so all was set. The restaurant is located in the middle of Salthill just up from Seapoint and the handiest parking is probably on the sea-facing road at the back of Seapoint. It is a wine bar and tapas venue and as well as the jazz on Sunday it has a trio on Tuesdays at 8.30pm. Our duo was a double bass and guitar who provided us with superb music and made a really good atmosphere even better. The décor is modern and really well done, the loos are just immaculate, there is a welcoming feeling when you arrive that suggests a good night ahead. As soon as you sit down there will be fresh olives and water provided while you peruse the menu. We took the easy route of ordering the platters of tapas, a seafood one and a mixed one, although you can order individual dishes for about €8. Each platter is about €21 or €23 and either one would satisfy most couples who want tasty food without stuffing themselves. The calamari was outstanding, as were the tiger prawns in oil and lemon juice (I am not a fan of tiger prawns but these were delish ). If you want to have a look at the menu go to www.blackcat.ie and you will see a superbly designed site with top class photography. There are about 50 wines on a well chosen wine list; we had the Verdejo costing €28 and I can recommend it without reservation. Telephone number is 091 501007 and I predict this will be a venue you will hear a lot about over the coming months and years.

Finally a note about a new website for fish lovers, www.fishmongers.ie This is a new site developed by Stefan from Gannet fishmongers (you will have met him at the Saturday market or downstairs in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre ). It is a great site, devoted to fish, fish recipes, where to find your local fish shop, and the best fish preparation videos I have seen. If you have ever struggled with getting the meat out of a large Dublin bay prawn then you absolutely must watch the video which shows you how to do it perfectly, it also shows two other ways of preparing prawns in the shell. The site has a separate section for people in the fishmonger trade where it sells equipment, knives, etc. However if you are an occasional fish eater or someone who needs a bit of help to decide what to buy or how to cook then I think you will like it.

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