With the summer season fast approaching again, one of the bonuses for the frequent diner in Galway is better breakfast and brunch options. This was a bleak enough prospect for a long time, but now we are spoiled with great weekday breakfasts. PoppySeed, Ard Bia, and McCambridge’s cafes notably serve up perfect starts to the morning before the more reliable pubs join in after 10.30am or 11am with big fry-ups and comforting mugs of tea. At the weekends there is even more to choose from.
One of our regular haunts, The Kitchen at the Museum, is covering both bases with a lovely weekday breakfast menu served from 9am with good provisions made for the vegetarians of the city. The all-day weekend brunch has been running for longer and has quite a following, as does the Sunday offering in Gourmet Tart and 37West, while queuing for brunch at Kai is now a Galway tradition.
Brunch is the most cheerful and sociable of meals and, like many other very good things (sandwiches, afternoon tea, and chocolate bars, to name a few ), originated in England in the late 1800s.
This portmanteau word of breakfast and lunch was first served in a buffet style manner, instead of England's heavy Sunday dinner. Starting around noon with tea or coffee, marmalade, and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare, no wonder it is so popular in Galway, eliminating as it does the need to get up early, making life better for many a Saturday-night carouser.
The popularity of the Sunday brunch shows no sign of stopping any time soon with more restaurants joining in all the time.
McSwiggan’s in Woodquay, the grand daddy of Galway restaurants, has recently added a lovely selection of artisan breakfasts, eggs Benedict, French toast, huevos rancheros, and more, served between 11am and 4pm. Add one of McSwiggan’s delicious cocktails to make your meal extra special, and delectable desserts if you are feeling especially indulgent.
The Twelve in Barna has introduced a Sunday afternoon menu for grownups upstairs in West restaurant. Pick from a selection of kedgeree with smoked fish and boiled eggs, half a roast chicken with lemon and herbs, white bean cassoulet with smoked black pudding and poached eggs, McGeough’s ribeye with beef dripping chips, and the gourmet pizza of the day. The extensive drinks menu includes artisan cordials and presses, fresh juices, prosecco cocktails, bellini pitchers, and local beers, and a wine list to find the perfect match for any brunch option. For the sweet toothed, there are homemade seasonal sorbets and freshly made doughnuts with dipping sauces – all to be enjoyed with a live classical guitar soundtrack.
The most family-friendly of these new dining options, also in Barna, is the rather brilliant brunch served at Mulberry’s, and after only a couple of weeks into this the team have found their Sunday morning mojo.
Weekday family meals can be tough to pull off for obvious reasons, and Sunday brunch is the only time that the family is likely to be in one place. It is the weekend, the pressure is off, and there is a (slightly ) better chance that everyone is refreshed from a good night’s sleep. While cereal and grab-and-go smoothies can dominate midweek breakfasts for many households, on weekends there is time to cook eggs, in some fashion. There may be bacon, and hot, buttered, toast. You can make waffles from scratch or pancakes, with the kids helping. Even better, somebody else can.
Mulberry’s has everything you would want to have at home and then some. Any of the children’s dishes, pancakes, eggs and toast, or mini breakfast, are €3.95, add a drink, freshly squeezed orange juice or a hot chocolate, and the children’s brunch deal is excellent value at just under €5. For the grown ups there is good coffee and a selection of herbal teas, or push the boat out with a cheeky Kir Royale or elderflower sparkler. The rest of the menu takes in items from virtuous granola to decadent stuffed French toast.
We sampled the 'duo of poaches' on muffins with Tuscan kale, ham, and hollandaise sauce, and its take on a BLT with slow cooked, delicately spiced, ham hock and excellent fries, both had lots of the punchy flavours that Mulberry’s is known for and there were stacks of good, fluffy, pancakes for the children. This is always a great spot with a lively, mixed, crowd. The tables were filled with the usual eclectic mix that Mulberry's attracts — couples, family groups, young and old. For the perfect chilled Sunday to the soundtrack of the rustle of newspapers and happy families enjoying good food, lazy Sunday afternoons at Mulberry’s are hard to beat.
Mulberry’s, Barna, Co Galway, phone 091 592123.