The little lakeside town of Loughrea represents the last outpost of civilisation before you reach the 'midlands'. If you are in search of refreshments before venturing forth into a territory where good places to eat are few and far between, you will be glad to know that it is increasingly possible to dine well in Loughrea.
As in any sizeable town there are, of course, takeaways offering fast food, fish and chips, Indian, and Chinese. Restaurants and pubs in Loughrea have a fair selection of good quality meals and pub snacks. The Hungry Bookworm, a lovely eclectic cafe and wine bar where you can enjoy variations on classic dishes while also perusing the literary classics, is well worth exploring. You can't go wrong with the pizza and pasta from the affordable menu at Il Porcetto, or one of the healthy options at So Good restaurant. And there is always something special on the menu at Taste Matters, which deservedly won the RAI Best Casual Dining category in Galway. Loughrea has plenty of choice.
I have recently added The Lough Rea Hotel and Spa to my expanding list of good eateries in this town. This modern hotel is kept busy throughout the summer with tourists and those travelling for business, but it has become a regular haunt for locals too in recent times. It is a good location to explore the west and there is ample parking for guests. The relaxed atmosphere and welcoming staff means the hotel has won a large share of repeat custom, ensuring its popularity through the cold winter months.
With comfortable sofas and great service, the Lir Bar has in recent times become the place to meet friends or colleagues for a coffee, tea, or even a whiskey or two. During the day, the bar and restaurant is a hub of business meetings, and friends enjoying homemade scones or having lunch. By night the atmosphere is fun and relaxed, it is a place to enjoy food and drinks with friends or family. The choices from the appetiser menu range from chowder to spring rolls, all very reasonably priced. Thereafter follows the speciality burger and steak grill and a choice of other mains such as vegetarian lasagna, wild mushroom linguini, and more.
We tried a lovely Caesar salad and a nicely peppery duck spring roll for our starters. A pan fried fillet of sea trout was well cooked and plentiful with accompanying sautéed potatoes in a lemon vinaigrette, and a full rack of ribs, though lovely, was too much for us to handle, the portions here are large, another reason I suspect for its repeat local custom.
Do try and leave room for desserts, these are rather good, as there is a chef in this kitchen with a bright future as a pastry chef. A rhubarb crumble and lemon cheesecake, though simple, were uncommonly good. Always eager to interact and get feedback, chef Reece Grehan makes a regular appearance from the kitchen to deliver some dishes in person.
This is a great local restaurant which continues to please its customers with its varied, well priced, menu. It has become firmly rooted in the community and developed strong relationships with the customers. The team have recognised that an emphasis placed firmly on customer service, choice, and value will ensure their popularity. Competent, uncomplicated, cooking, and Irish hospitality at its finest. They do sleeping, meeting, dining, wedding, and relaxing really well. They mix these things with an energetic, enthusiastic, staff who clearly love what they do. A very welcoming rural retreat.
Lough Rea Hotel & Spa, Old Galway Road, Loughrea, phone 091 880 088.