The House Hotel is one of my favourite little boltholes in Galway. Cool, quirky, and fun, you can't beat it for location. The rooms are lovely and settling into one of the squashy pink couches in the lobby with one of the rather superior afternoon teas is a great way to catch up with friends.
While hotel food in general can be hard to get excited about at the best of times (dry, chewy carvery meat languishing under heat lamps and the inevitable ice-cream scoops of mashed potato ), the House Hotel did not earn its popularity without having a more ambitious kitchen. It does a fine breakfast, full Irish or hearty porridge, a great family-style dinner of whole roast chicken on Sundays. There is also great bar food with some retro-comfort dishes including a ploughman's lunch served with a proper pickled egg. Try the spicy chicken wings, they were responsible for the birth of my first child, but that is a story for another time. There is an excellent à la carte menu in the bistro, complemented by a fair-sized wine list where the majority of the wines are priced in the early twenties, and a great value early bird special.
More recently, the hotel has been gaining quite a reputation for its cocktails with two of the country's best mixologists manning the bar. With the growing popularity of cocktail and food matching the new ‘Dine & Cocktail’ offer is on-trend as well as being pretty good value. A main course of either Irish Hereford sirloin steak or the house fish of the day, served along with one of the signature House cocktails, is just €15.
You can start with a classic sophisticated cocktail to whet your appetite and get you in the mood for the meal ahead. Sip on one of the tall refreshing concoctions throughout your dinner or have a sweet mint crisp or the house colada in place of a dessert. You will have lots of fun 'playing with your food' with this offer.
My current husband had the steak, opting for the pepper sauce over the garlic butter. It was eight ounces of tender pink perfection, and came with a generous amount of sautéed onions, mushrooms, and creamy mash (not scoop-shaped thankfully ). Along with the gentleman's favourite from the cocktail menu, a classic ‘old fashioned’ which complemented the beef.
I had the fish of the day, a fat and flaky sea bream, served on a bed of wilted spinach with a herb-spiked cream sauce. Usually I am partial to a dry Martini with my fish, but I opted to have a sweet cocktail after my meal instead, although you can also have one of the hotel’s freshly made desserts instead of a cocktail. Starters are available for an additional €3.
Even though the House is at the glitzy, glamorous, end of the hotel scene, there is real substance in the kitchen. Serving good value menus in a casually, trendy space, the House Hotel always makes you feel at home.
For more details or to book a table, visit www.thehousehotel.ie or call the House Bistro on 091 538900.
Ten good Rieslings
If food pairing with wines is more to your thing, the good people at Cases and Kai are putting on a special food and wine event on Thursday November 8 as part of Cases Wine Warehouse’s ongoing fifth anniversary celebrations. The evening is a 10-course taster menu designed around 10 unique Rieslings from New Zealand and is aimed at food lovers, Riesling lovers, and wine lovers in general.
The Rieslings are 10 different wines that were produced as part of the 2010 New Zealand Riesling Challenge. In a fascinating exercise exploring the terroir vs winemaker debate, 60 tonnes of Riesling grapes were harvested from one block in the Mud House vineyard in the Waipara Valley on South Island in April 2010 and were divided equally among 12 prominent wine makers such as Matt Dicey of Mount Difficulty, Simon McGeorge of Waipara Hills, Ant McKenzie of Te Awa, Simon Waghorn of Astrolabe, and overall winner of the challenge, Matt Donaldson of Pegasus Bay.
They received an open brief to produce a Riesling in any way they chose, and produced an amazing range of styles from dry to sweet. The wines were snapped up immediately by wine fans across the world. Cases have managed to get hold of 10 of them and these bottles will form a focal point for the night.
The other focal point will be a taster menu, a blend of the best of Irish and Kiwi ingredients and recipes, with a different taster course to match each Riesling, developed specially for the night by Jess Murphy, New Zealand native and head chef at Kai, Galway’s award-winning restaurant. While formalities will be kept to a minimum, the foods and wines will be introduced by Jess Murphy and Peter Boland of Cases Wine Warehouse.
The event will be for a very limited group in the private dining room at Kai. Tickets at €90 per head can be purchased from Cases Wine Warehouse at [email protected] or 091 764701, or from Kai Café and Restaurant at 091 526 003.