Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness simply did not know where to go shopping. The women of Galway know that happiness is available to purchase in sizes small, medium, or large at Born in Newtownsmith, not least of all because of The Boutique Kitchen, the in-store cafe where you can fortify yourself for a day's shopping with breakfast, beverages, and brownies without needing to leave this shopping haven.
The Boutique Kitchen has one of the most beautiful outdoor eating places in Galway, with views of the river and the dome of the cathedral peeking out over the treeline in the distance. The lovely cream outdoor canopies, which can be seen as you cross over the bridge, are better than any advertising board. When the weather isn't great, the room is airy and light due to the triple-height ceiling and wall of glass.
Well-priced specials at The Boutique Kitchen include dishes such as slow roasted pork belly and there is always a quiche of the day. The menu also has a good selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches which are available on gluten-free bread. Should you want something more substantial, the lunch menu has fishcakes, steak sandwiches, and a range of burgers; beef, chicken fillet, and for vegetarians there is a nice portobello mushroom burger option, as well as savory pancakes with spinach, ricotta, and walnuts.
On my most recent visit it was warm and sunny and even though I was leaning heavily towards one of the specials, chorizo and red pepper penne in a parmesan cream with crispy garlic bread, in the end I opted for the goat's cheese and beetroot from the salad menu as it had been recommended to me. There was a nicely judged portion of goat's cheese and the salad was lovely and fresh with toasted walnuts for a bit of extra taste, crunch, and texture. Order your dressing on the side here if you don't like loads, as they are very generous with it.
The drinks menu is extensive with lots of teas on offer, organic, herbal, a warming 'bad weather tea', iced tea. There are low calorie health drinks, sodas, pink lemonade, and of course, coffee. Wine is also available by the bottle or by the glass starting at a very reasonable €4.50.
A fun and frilly dessert menu with cakes and bakes on stands must be passed on your way in the door with some gingerbread men and cookies for the children, so it is surprising that anybody gets as far as ordering lunch with so many sweet distractions placed in the way. That said, I had to have one of the meringue desserts which was unashamedly girly.
New manager Deirdre D'Arcy, formerly of Gemelles on Quay Street, has a young, friendly, and helpful staff under her wing. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm and Sunday from 12 noon to 5.30pm for breakfast, lunch, and treats. Wi-Fi is reliable here if you need to tweet a photo of your latest purchase, I know I often do. All in all, The Boutique Kitchen is a great spot for a shopping break or a lazy lunch on the terrace when the weather is kind.
Three other great Galway tea rooms
Goya’s is Galway’s original café and baker/owner Emer Murray “is the best baker in Ireland,” as John McKenna rightly said. The deli is a fairly recent and welcome addition to the cafe. Lunch is served between 12.30pm and 3pm when you can sample some delicious home-made soup, Goya's paté, individual quiches and pies. Sandwiches, a range of salads, and toasted specials are also served during the day. More importantly Goya's is best known for its large range of cakes and tarts for which Emer has many fans (including my two girls ). The large cakes and tarts are available to buy whole and are especially good value this way.
Goya’s in Kirwan’s Lane is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 6pm. Lunch is served between 12.30pm and 3pm.
Corrib House tea rooms and guest house is a Georgian style property built in the early 1800s and is steeped in history. Its present incarnation opened in October 2011. Since then a steady and loyal band of followers have been calling into the beautifully restored rooms for a glorious breakfast of porridge, granola, or pancakes and lunches that include the hot pie of the day. Sit in the river-facing room and watch the swans drift by. There is a shaded courtyard to the side, a little hidden corner of Galway that is worth hunting out. Breakfast is served from 9.30am to 12.15pm (10am on Saturday ), with lunch from 12.15pm until 5pm.
Cupán Tae is modelled on its sister tea room in Kenmare, Co Kerry. Cupán Tae Galway opened at the end of December 2010. There are 30 different types of loose-leaf teas, tables set with linen and lace, and a stunning collection of china. Situated on the corner of New Dock Street and Merchants Road, full breakfast and lunch menus are available along with a selection of homemade cakes and sweets and lots of treats to take home with you including loose-leaf teas, homemade brown bread, and granola. Also worth noting is its commitment to the Irish language, with lots of bilinguality in the menus. Cupán Tae is open seven days. Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, and 11am to 6pm on Sundays.