Brasserie on the Corner

Here in the middle of the summer that did not happen, it may seem promises do not count for anything any more. Garden trampoline accidents have now been replaced in the A&E by advanced cases of pneumonia and chronic trenchfoot as the leading summer time ailments (I made that up, but it could be true, couldn’t it? ). So if a newly opened restaurant promises “quality steak, seafood, wine, cocktails — and so much more” should we believe it?

Located on Eglinton Street in the heart of Galway was the long disused corner building that used to belong to the Cullinane family. Now elegantly refurbished, on one side is Blake’s Bar, and beside and connecting to the bar is The Brasserie on the Corner. You would be wrong to assume any gastropub aspirations here, the menu is too refined for that much overused title. The Brasserie seems to be positioning itself at the top end of the food chain. This side of the building is a restaurant and wine bar that just happens to be housed in a former pub building, and is very definitely not just a pub which serves food.

I called in to see how they were getting on and I have to say I think they have got this one covered. You can have a very nice lunch in here, there is good food coming from a confident kitchen, and good service from some charming staff. I unwittingly visited on its first day of having a lunch service and if the staff had any first day nerves, it certainly did not show.

Lighter salads, sandwiches, and soups feature on the menu along with the permanent backbone of main courses, burger, steak, and vegetarian goat’s cheese lasagne. A great selection of good value daily specials rounded out the menu, from under €7 for a warm goat’s cheese salad up to €10.95 for the pan fried hake with sautéed potato and summer salsa; with McGeough’s smoked sausages and mash and spiced parmesan chicken with chips falling between those two stools price-wise.

However it is the deli boards that set this lunch menu apart. All boards are €13.95 and are served with a little tossed salad, nice bread, and marinated olives. There’s a cured meat board, an Irish artisan cheese, seafood, vegetarian, or make up your own board with any four ingredients from across the lot — fulfilling rather than just filling. There is some kind of lunchtime genius at work here, it is perfect middle-of-the-day food. If you are treating yourself to a nice lunch in town, a cold glass of wine and one of these would be hard to better.

We had one of the deli boards, the west coast seafood one which is advertised as ‘perfect to share’. Alas, this is not true at all. It is almost to good to share — crab and salmon sausage, fresh salmon salad, smoked mackerel pate, tempura prawn and ginger tartare, tasty morsels presented in little shot glasses, cute kilner jars, and mounds of fishy delicacies were quite literally fought over. If you are getting them, get one each. Then you can negotiate, barter, and exchange, it will be fairer and you will be more likely to leave the premises on good terms with your dining companion and with your relationship, friendship, or job still intact. As it stood, we had to send for extra tempura prawns as two prawns into four people just doesn’t go.

Chocolate and raspberry pudding with chocolate chip cookie, toffee sauce, and raspberry ripple ice cream was not too sweet, with good quality chocolate, and local Burren ice-cream as well. Did you know that when you order dessert here you are not being greedy, you are in fact doing your bit for the local economy. Well done you.

Lemon and passionfruit tart was fragrant and delicious with a few nice passionfruit seeds left for crunch in an otherwise smooth lemon custard, but the peanut butter parfait with chocolate butterscotch sauce and honeycomb is the one to order is you are a PB fan at all, inventive and delicious, two things which do not always go together. There was some over-enthusiastic plate-dressing with some unnecessary pineapple pieces on some of the desserts.

I have one complaint however and it is this — if I had any idea that a restaurant in its first weeks of business was operating so smoothly I would have made more of an effort to go there for dinner. The wine list and the evening menu will need further exploration. There are a number of vegetarian dishes and seafood specials, again presented on the specials menu, for ease of changing dishes according to the daily catch and the season. Inventive sides will probably make you order far more than you can eat, broccoli with sesame butter, sugar snaps and mushrooms, baked tomato and rosemary, along with old favourites onion rings, potato gratin, and chips.

The steak is something new for Galway — the chefs seem to be taking some inspiration from such restaurants as Rustic Stone and Hawksmoor, and with some of the best grass-fed beef in Ireland this just has to be good. If it is not, I will be hugely disappointed, there is no two ways about it. The choice of cuts of McGeough’s beef include sirloin and rib-eye, stone cooked (as is the fashion ) to order from blue, very rare, and cold centred for the hard core, all the way through to well done, slow cooked and very tender for the haemophobic.

A list of sauces has all the classics with the notable exceptions of Bearnaise and Cafe de Paris butter, which I personally would like to see offered in a line-up of what would otherwise have been all the usual suspects of steak sauces, whiskey pepper, mushroom sauce, onion gravy, blue cheese, and a couple of other compound butters. Carnivores, please form an orderly queue.

The wine menu here is pretty long, listing more than 40 wines from a selection of the smaller vineyards across France, Spain, Chile, New Zealand, and a lot of cocktails for those of you who favour the brightly coloured drink options. All things considered this restaurant has all the ingredients for a long successful run.

Brasserie on the Corner will be open daily, Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 11pm. To make a reservation call 091 530333 or email [email protected]. Large groups are welcome.

See www.Brasserie Galway.com or find Brasserie on the Corner on Facebook for additional information.

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