I'm quite fond of the g. They have been nice to me over the years, giving me a lovely upgrade on my last significant birthday, a piece of chocolate cake complete with candle waiting for me in the room. The afternoon tea is a real treat, scones, little bites of desserts, finger sandwiches with tea or some girlie pink champagne, or a junior tea for an exceptionally good child.
The entrance to the g reveals itself with a kind of Narnian magic, offering refuge from a dingy underground carpark. The smartly painted area with clipped box is the beginning of a lot of smoke and mirrors that somehow manages to hide the fact that the g Hotel is in the middle of the city. Indeed once inside there is so much to look at that the view, or lack thereof, hardly matters.
I am not a dressing up kind of gal but I got out of my wellies for the occasion, put some pretty dresses on the children, and headed in for a bit of five star luxury. A member of staff was vacuuming under the tables where they served breakfast earlier. He seemed surprised to learn it was almost one o'clock and hoovered faster. We retired to one of the lounges, the cream one as it matched the children's outfits, to peruse the menu.
To start, we chose a confit duck leg spring roll, spoiled a little with its accompanying braised red cabbage, a little old and lukewarm. Local crayfish cocktail with marie rose sauce was more successful.
The children’s menu is in the form of an activity book and comes with a full set of new felt tip markers. Did I mention I had dressed them top to toe in cream? Among the usual crowd pleasers of burgers and goujons nestle some fun starters like fruit kebabs with yogurt dip and desserts of ice-cream and space dust.
My current husband had the vegetarian option, a tagliatelle with wild mushroom and white wine cream, shaved parmesan, and rocket. Being Sunday, I had the roast beef which was from Tipperary, just like me. Everything from Tipperary is excellent — hurlers, beef, you name it. A sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and two spoons finished off our little family lunch.
The staff are friendly and efficient. Even though the menu changes often, I was surprised that there was little seasonality and provenance in it. Also be warned that when the sun comes out the glorious glass wall can make it stiflingly hot, flip flops and a sarong would have been a better choice of outfit. Further into the room is cooler, again like Tipperary.
Sunday lunch is served in gigi's restaurant from 1pm to 3pm. Two course Sunday lunch with tea or coffee is €25 per person, or three courses for €29. It is not really about the food, although it is some of the most prettily plated you will find, it is the little touches the staff do that add to the sense of occasion. The girls' drinks arrived with wedges of pineapple, or the ornate popping candy on the banana splits, pink 'g' balloons for the children, none for me. You have got to love them for their attention to detail. The g Hotel is perfect when you have something worth celebrating.
The g Hotel, Wellpark, Galway, Ireland.
New seafood restaurant for Galway
For a seaside town it is a little odd maybe that there are so few restaurants specialising in seafood, Oscars and McDonaghs being the only two that spring to mind in the city centre, and Galway Bay Seafoods' little canteen over its shop at lunchtime. Saturday night saw the opening of a new seafood restaurant, Chez Azur, located in that lovely space that was Sheridan’s on the Docks, and it was nice to see it back in business. The invite was for 8 o'clock and I arrived promptly along with other local food lovers, restaurateurs, and journalists, all bringing their appetites. The smell of fresh paint filled the air as the woman beside me offered to give 'feedback' to one of the waitresses. It was too dark, she said, she couldn't read the menu! In fairness, if it was not for the street light coming in the window, it was hard to make it out.
Even though starters were a cold seafood terrine and an assembly job of goat’s cheese crostini, the decision of serving the guests table by table meant a very long wait for some with not so much as a bread basket or an olive to fill the void. As the second to last table served, it was an hour and a half after arrival that we were presented with our duo of venison and rack of lamb, and trio of scallops, hake, and prawns. Both the meat and fish were perfectly cooked. Desserts were an overly bitter chocolate torte and a creme brûlée as the neighbouring woman continued to offer 'feedback' to an increasingly harried waitress, by now clearly 'in the weeds'. The owner, Ken, has youth and enthusiasm on his side and quite a lot of experience. When it overcomes its teething problems, with a very classic French menu and a room with a view, Chez Azur has a lot of potential.