Wednesday, 13 February 2013

French Foodie in Galway

The return trip on the train from Dublin Heuston to Galway train station only cost around €30 per person if booked online and early. Tickets are to be collected at the machines in the station and the journey is a just a little over 2 hours. It was painless on the way there but quite annoying on the way back with people being really loud and getting drunk on the train but sure, c’est la vie!
Accommodation:  Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa Galway

This hotel is a 4 star hotel located only 3 min walk from Eyre Square. It’s a big hotel with 272 rooms including family rooms, penthouse suites, executive suites and apartments. Facilities include a leisure/fitness centre and a spa. We tried the swimming pool/steam room/Jacuzzi which were lovely and relaxing. They have 4 food/dining options: the Atrium Bar Lounge, Restaurant Marinas, the Veranda Lounge and RAW-Sushi in the sky. The staff at the reception were helpful and efficient when we checked  in. We had a room on the 2nd floor with a view of Galway Bay. The room was quite spacious and very comfortable. This hotel is a good option for any type of stay (professional or leisure), couple, friends, spa retreat  or family stay. They have a car park and the location is central.

Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa Galway, Lough Atalia Rd  Galway, Co. Galway, (091) 538 300

Brunch: Ard Bia at Nimmos restaurant 
Thanks to @Msjuly31 ,@Stephmcs,  for recommending this place on Twitter
When you place a cute bike outside the café, draw hearts on a chalk board, display polka dot tea pots and serve brunch, most likely I’m gonna love you. This is what Ard Bia is about, a quirky café with simple but good brunch options and tea served in the cutest Vintage China tea sets. The place was absolutely packed and we had to wait for table for about 15 minutes (booking strongly recommended). On the weekend brunch menu prices start at €5 with the Ard Bia Granola with fruit compote and natural yoghurt to €9 for a full fry. The stuffed French toast with poached pear and soft cheese plus cinnamon orchard syrup (€7.50) were tempting and so was the smoked trout with spinach, poached eggs and herby hollandaise on a potato cake (€8.50). Mr. FFID, as a good old Irish man had the full fry, bien sur, that was hearty and comforting. I had a healthier version of it, the Hippy Fry (€8.50). I was very happy and loved the large creamy potato cake; just superb with their delicious homemade spiced tomato relish. The service was quick, despite the surrounding madness, the staff could have been a bit more warmer but the cuteness of the place made up for it!

Ard Bia at Nimmos restaurant, Spanish Arch, Galway City, Co. Galway, Tel (091) 561 114

Pre meal drinks: Le Petit Rouge
On our way to the restaurant we booked for diner, my eyes were caught by an almost familiar looking front house. It looked French and was called Le Petit Rouge, of course we stopped for a drink and to have a look inside. At the entrance of the restaurant/wine bar they recreated a French looking café terrace that could be a restaurant in the South of France. There is a fake tree, a fake window with shutters, French signs. It’s very cliché and almost looks too fake but Mr. FFID looked like he was on holidays in France and seemed to love the decor. What I liked the most was their cheese platter/trolley that’s displayed beside the bar. This looked authentic to me.  I must say after a few minutes sipping my wine I kind of felt in France, especially with the French waiters , the French music in the background and people eating their platters of charcuterie next to us. I haven’t tried the food but I’ll be back le Petit Rouge!

Le Petit Rouge, 38 Lower Dominick Street, Galway, Co. Galway. Tel 091 530 681


Diner: Aniar
Aniar won a Michelin star last year, becoming the only Michelin stared restaurant in the West of Ireland. The decor is very simple maybe too much. Mr. FFID said it looked a bit like a coffee shop and I had to agree. They have a tasting menu for €60 (€85 with wine pairing) but we went for the a la carte. The waiting staff were friendly and explaining each dish to us in detail, which I thought was a nice touch. A complimentary amuse bouche of squid crackling and crispy kale with monkfish sauce was brought at the start. It was tasty but very salty. The homemade breads were lovely, amongst which was a delightful fluffy focaccia bread. The highlight of the meal was my starter, some big fleshy scallops served with tasty black pudding mousse, crispy cauliflower, lardo and pork belly. Mr. FFID had the duck hearts with broccoli, buttermilk and hen egg. He liked it but I didn’t find much taste except from the broccoli. Both dishes were beautifully plated, in the evening it’s quite darkly lit so pictures won’t do justice to the dishes. The mains were small considering they each cost over €30. I had the mallard, not much meat on the plate, served with beetroot and chard. It wasn’t bad but I didn’t get much flavour from it and thought it lacked seasoning. Himself had the lamb loin, spinach, turnip and onion that I didn’t taste. The side dish of roasted (bland) potatoes was a big let down.  We decided not to go for the desserts stopping the bill at €116 (excl. Service) for 2 starters, 2 mains and bottle of wine.

Aniar Galway, 53 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, Co. Galway. Tel (091) 535 947 


Cheese and Wine Sheridans Cheesemongers Wine shop and Wine bar
Mr. FFID decided to look for a wine bar for having a little bit of cheese after our meal and thanks to google he found out about the wine bar above Sheridans Cheesemongers’ shop. We walked up the stairs to a welcoming and warm room filled with people sipping wine and eating away some nibbles. For €10 we got an excellent cheese platter with some fine Spanish, Irish and French cheeses and some olives.  We also got a nice basket of fresh bread and we got the most important thing: a good atmosphere where people looked like they were having a good time. It was simple, unpretentious and just perfect. 

Sheridans Cheesemongers Wine bar, 14-16 Church Yard Street, Galway, Co. Galway

Brunch day 2: McCambridges
We didn’t have much time to look for a place between check out and our train to Dublin so we chose to try McCambridges (thanks @Msjuly31).  It’s a deli and food shop downstairs and they have a restaurant upstairs. Mr. FFID was delighted with his hearty Irish breakfast (encore!?), best hangover cure in the world which was made with Irish quality local products. I had something lighter and more continental, a tasty light and fluffy frittata with smoked Irish salmon and side salad. The two dishes plus a freshly squeezed orange juice and an Americano cost about €21. It did the job, brunches are rarely a disappointment and service was pleasant. We left Galway nicely full and are already looking forward to our next trip there.

Mc Cambridges, 38-39 Shop Street, Galway, Co. Galway


PS: I visited Galway last year and stayed at the fabulous G hotel, you might want to read about this perfect stay here
Also please tell me about your favourite spots in Galway for my next visit!