For such a tiny village there is certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out in Barna. Mulberry's for casual and family dining, O'Grady's for the seafood lovers, and what many consider to be the jewel in Barna's culinary crown, West at The Twelve. West's outstanding contemporary regional cuisine and seamless service has earned much critical acclaim, as has its extensive wine list. Here seasonal and local ingredients shine to deliver a superb fine dining experience.
This kitchen is confident enough to have a chef's table, where the curious can sit and watch the nightly service unfold from a different perspective, right in the middle of the action. If that does not appeal, the dining room is handsome and contemporary, dark and luxurious.
The service was also spot-on, very friendly and attentive. We were impressed by the knowledge of our servers about both the food and the wine. The bread could not be any fresher, made in the hotel’s own in-house Pins Bakery and accompanied by a choice of compound or plain butters.
When it came to wine, I took the easy option of having my wines chosen for each course, matched to the food for me by the very knowledgeable team. A restaurant with the title of best wine experience in Ireland was hardly going to get this one wrong, and I would highly recommend this option. Each glass was perfect for each course, little point in listing them, however, as their list is constantly evolving. Fergus O’Halloran, general manager and a sommelier of some note, is constantly sniffing out new wines from the four corners of the globe to add to the list, a nice feature especially for regular visitors.
A starter of a little pot of mussels from Killary Harbour was served with some lovely baby mussel fritters. A duck plate of confit parcels had a hidden treasure of foie gras inside and was served with an unusual hoi-sin and Guinness sauce.
McGeough's lamb was the centrepiece of one of the main courses, Connemara lamb rack and croquette shoulder with spinach and cumin carrots. The company’s produce also featured in the other main course, this time McGeough’s smoked sausage was paired with seared Connemara scallops, a baby leek fondue, and roasted pepper coulis. Both were excellent and beautifully presented.
The desserts were an average berry tasting plate and an outstanding rhubarb, ginger, and marshmallow concoction that was very easily one of the best desserts ever to sit in front of me.
Prices are a little lower than I would have expected from this level of service with the 'small plates' at €6.50 and €8.50 respectively and the lamb at €24.90 for a generous portion. I see that West is now open for a late Sunday lunch from 3pm — this menu seems great value also and is well worth a look.
All in all the ambiance of the restaurant on a busy Friday, the quality of our meal, and some of the best staff in Galway made for a perfect night out — sophisticated without being pretentious. I have been fortunate enough to have many great food experiences over the years, from a tasting menu in an art installation on the roof-tops of Paris, to sipping homemade organic cider in a smokey yurt in Dorset with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (yes, I am foodaholic ). Dining at the West certainly ranks as one of the memorable ones.