Hotels in Ireland can be largely divided into two main types. The first type were built in recent years, a result of the economic boom, and are largely run by professional management companies whose brief is to merely keep the business afloat and get ‘heads in beds’. The Menlo Park is the other sort of hotel. Part of the landscape and the fabric of life in the local area, providing employment and welcoming guests from Ireland and far flung parts of the world since it first opened in the late nineties.
These family-owned and locally run hotels provide a background to life, boom or bust. Weddings, Communions, and confirmations, anniversaries, birthdays, and christenings all pass through their doors. Venues like Menlo Park are at the centre of many reunions, celebrations, and life events, providing the food and friendly service that make them memorable.
This is one of the best four star hotels in Galway city, and has 70 guest rooms, including luxurious new superior king rooms and a new bridal wing. The much loved Menlo Park is something of a landmark and is known for its family-run warmth.
The Bia Beo Restaurant is not just another hotel restaurant, it is a hub of the community and an extension of the neighbourhood. Regulars sit at the bar among the tourists and overnight guests. The menu reflects the clientele, both traditional and modern Irish, with many favourites on offer. Ample choice and good value make it a popular choice for dinner with locals from the surrounding estates. Though Galway is very well supplied with great places to eat, for guests at the hotel there is no need to make the trip into town when you have such good choice on your doorstep. Bia Beo restaurant offers a contemporary dining experience. For something more relaxed, the hotel bar Beoga offers traditional food and drink in a pub atmosphere.
Attention is paid to every little detail from breakfast through to dinner. Brown bread and scones are prepared daily. There is a great breakfast menu that includes lightly spiced cinnamon pancakes, homemade banana bread, omelettes, and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. Even the jams are made on site. Lunch is available by prior reservation. In the evening, dinner is served between 6.30pm and 9.30pm and the selection of food includes hearty meats, delicate fish, salads, and indulgent desserts. The hotel has kept up with the times and also has gluten-free options and vegetarian specialities. Starters run from fresh and light Caesar salads and aromatic mussels in white wine to a slow cooked pork belly with black pudding.
On our recent visit we sampled a delicious Bluebell Falls goats cheese rolled in a hazelnut crust with beetroot pannacotta - the color of garnet. Slabs of smooth duck liver pate came perched on toasted brioche. To follow there was the Taste of Connacht plate - a medley of lamb, slow roast pork, braised beef blade, and a ham hock croquette richly studded with grain mustard. A second main was a well executed duck breast with creamed cabbage, along with a truly excellent potato dauphinois - soft, creamy, garlic potatoes. The highlight of the desserts was a very well made classic tiramisu.
In addition to the specially selected wine list the hotel offers digestifs, top shelf whiskeys, and a full bar service. Don’t leave without sampling the cocktail of the month - we certainly didn’t.
It would be wrong to think that this is a typical hotel kitchen, used to catering to large parties with safe options, crowd pleasers, and run of the mill choices. The food here distinguishes itself with unexpected flavour combinations. Tradition, hospitality, and charm are synonymous with the Menlo Park Hotel. Competent cooking, and Irish hospitality at its finest. It is this emphasis placed firmly on customer service, choice, and value that ensures the enduring popularity of this Galway institution.