Creole was an instant hit when it opened last summer. A long sunny evening in the terrace with a pile of ribs and a beer was time well misspent, and it has been popular ever since. Now, it's not really a place for vegetarians, there are only a few choices from quite a big menu. This is man food. In fact, when my current husband realised he could not join me at Creole, there was much gnashing of teeth. I brought The Bride instead.
The room is beautifully decorated in the light painted wood, chandeliers, and gauzy nets typical of the aristocratic French roots of Creole cuisine. Staff are friendly and efficient, the affable owner Ronan Galvin is very hands on, almost always there himself to chat with regulars, and help clear tables when the need arises. Then it was just the small matter of choosing from the many tempting items on the menu — jambalaya, gumbo, or a very good value BBQ board which is available from Thursday to Sunday and boasts wings, ribs, chicken breast, beans, sweetcorn, and chips with a beer for just €14.95.
We were brought a tasty amuse bouche of pulled pork fritters while we waited for our order. The amuse bouche was the size of a generous starter. The starters, when they arrived, were equal to many other establishments’ main courses. And the main courses? Well, if they were pants they would be an XXL. But it is not just about quantity, there is quality here also.
Now the way to this girl's heart is offal. Give me a gizzard or sear me some sweetbreads and I'm a happy lady. In my last life I suspect I may have been an English squire, riddled with gout. Cava, Creole’s next door neighbour until its recent closure, was the most reliable source of offal for me in times gone by, with its nose to tail ethos. Without it I live a horribly uncertain life, never knowing where my next bite of foie gras may come from. So when I spied cashew crusted chicken livers marsala on the specials menu, I had to have that. The nicest plate of food so far this year, but still, 'tis only February. The Bride had the chicken wings followed by pork cutlets crusted with smoked salt. They were stuffed with cajun sausage and apple and served over braised red cabbage and creole mustard sauce, again from the specials menu. Both were enjoyed, as were my rib and chicken combo platter. The ribs are very popular at Creole and with good reason. They are not the best ribs in town, those are to be found at my friends Ron's house, along with the best baked beans and corn bread. But if Ron doesn't ask you round for supper, and let's face it, he probably won't, Creole will make a fine substitute.
The Bride and I finished up by sharing a slice of rich chocolatey mud pie.
Don't be afraid to ask the nice staff to pack up your leftovers for you. I suspect they have to do this more often than not, I brought mine home to my poor starving current husband and, much as he enjoyed them, he was unable to finish them. Even the leftovers had leftovers.
Is your idea of a good meal pushing an undressed salad around a plate? Do you like to fill up on iced water before ordering a plain chicken breast with some steamed veg? If so, do yourself a favour and don't go to Creole. You won't like it. Creole is only for people who love good food and lots of it.
Creole, 49 Lower Dominick Street, Galway, phone 091 895926, www.creole.ie
While I cannot get my offal fix in Cava anymore, this old favourite may be gone but is by no means forgotten. Cava Spanish Restaurant and 'table 4' has found lodgings down the road in Eat Gastropub. Among the gastropub's regular offerings of potted crab, beer battered ling, and the ever popular gourmet burger, more fans of Cava will be delighted to know there is a special selection of the most popular tapas. The patata bravas are no surprise, the piquillo peppers with handmade Spanish goat’s cheese makes an appearance as does the crispy calamari, the pork belly, and the serrano ham platter.
And no need to repaint the Cava-mobile either as it takes to the road Wanderly Wagon-style with a pop up to the famous Co Donegal bar and restaurant Harry’s on Friday May 24. A restaurant that sources everything from one small beautiful peninsula — Inishowen. Exciting times ahead.
Anton's has been operating a very successful breakfast, lunch, and takeaway on Fr Griffin Road for many moons now. The spicy tuna sandwich on their in-house baked focaccia bread is up there with the best sandwich experience in the west. The bread is not the only thing made fresh every day, though. All the scones, muffins, and desserts are made in house as well. Soups and salads are produced with fresh local ingredients. Dressings and relishes are Anton's own special blends, and there is usually the bonus of an local artist exhibiting on the walls.
And now, finally, after 15 years, Anton's is now open until 10pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a new evening menu. Warm salads, pasta dishes, and rib-eye steak are on the small but perfectly formed evening menu board with an everyday cheese and meat platter. The freshly baked blue cheese, bacon, and chives scones and cheddar smoked paprika and thyme muffins looking particularly nice. Seating is still limited in this small room, so be extra careful not to let anyone know about this new development, people. Remember, this is a local cafe, we don't want tourists and out-of-towners cluttering the place up and eating all our soup! Because in Anton's, the food hugs you back.
Anton’s, 12 Father Griffin Road, Galway, phone (091 ) 582 067.