6 Abbeygate Street upper
Open: Monday – Sunday from 12 noon – 9pm
Having spent more than 15 yrs living and working in the US, it goes without saying that we all love Mexican food here at Chez Wise. So much so, that due to the lack of any decent Mexican food eateries in Galway over the last 8 years, we have just had our own little weekly fiesta at home. We have pined silently and patiently for someone to open up a Chipotle or heaven forbid, somewhere like The Comet in Northside, Cincinnati, Ohio, where we used to frequent quite a bit when we lived the other side of the pond.
Over the last couple of years, there have been a few interesting additions to the Mexican food offerings in our little city-by-the-sea, and I am here to tell you that Tuco’s Taqueria is leagues ahead of the others.
A couple of years ago, we caught wind of the fact that Boojum was coming to Galway – a chain with decent offerings and large portions. It had all the potential of becoming a favourite cheap n’ cheerful kinda place, but we all felt a little queasy every time ate there, so we ditched that plan!
For a few years, if we found ourselves in Dublin around lunchtime with little time to spare, we’d stop in to Tolteca. They frequently offer a two-for one deal and the kids and himself were kept happy. Then, joy oh joy, they opened a branch in Galway, over on Newcastle road near opposite the hospital and close to NUI Galway. It was good – but not as nice as the one in Dublin, but hey, better than nothing!
Then a few months ago, late in the autumn, we discovered Tuco’s Taqueria, hidden away on upper Abbeygate street, almost immediately opposite Lynch’s Castle cash machines, which incidentally you will need to get in line for as Tuco’s accepts cash only.
. With vibrant chalk board menus hanging on the wall, there are lots of options to choose from. They have six different salsas to tickle your tastebuds, ranging from Cremosa (mild) to Tuco’s Terror (very hot). Now, unlike the little flames on the menu at Papa Rich Asian Street Food Kitchen, where hot means hot, these salsa’s are not going hurt you too much,
The kitchen and service crew seem native, to Mexico that is, and I think this might be the kicker for Tuco’s and why their food tastes so gooood; way more authentic to the other two places.
Take for example, their Carnitas. Slow cooked (100%) Irish Pork ..it is mildly addictive. Actually, I might just go on record here and state that it is totally addictive, and I am addicted to it.
Their burritos, much like all burrito joints, are massive, so go with an appetite if you are putting this Galway gem on your list of places to try. But in saying that, the kids wolf ’em down everytime, loaded with Pinto beans, rice, guacamole (divine), salsa and either chicken, pork or beef.
The Taco’s ( 2 per order) are my favourite. You can get wheat or corn tortillas and different fillings in each.
As with all these eateries in Galway that we find and take time to tell you about, this one was quite well priced too. Lunch, or supper, for 4 pp with soft drinks or water, comes to under forty euros every time.
With a funky interior, and seating for 40 pp (upstairs and down), Tuco’s Taqueria is a very welcome addition to the cheap n’ cheerful side of dining in Galway.
Let me know if you have tried it? Oh, and they also use Deliveroo – so no excuse really. They can drop it to your door in 30 minutes!
That’s all for now guys n’ dolls …
next up .. Kebabs and embracing them whilst sober!
Asian Street Food Kitchen
3 Dalys Place,
091 450 147
Serving lunch and dinner 7-days a week from 12:30am – 10:30pm.
The fun is just beginning when it comes to the constantly evolving world of food in Galway and this new Asian restaurant, Papa Rich, might just be the tip of the iceberg.
We moved back to Galway mid-2008 after a 15 yr stint in the US and a year in Switzerland. When we landed, aside from it being an unusually wet summer, the choices we had when eating out in Galway waned on the edge of well-established tourist traps to a small handful of decent eateries.
It was always easier, cheaper and tastier to eat at home.
I’d venture to say that now, almost 8 years later, we are just spoiled for choice when it comes to picking our favourite restaurants, bars and cafes. There are even one or two hotels that offer decent grub – and that is practically unheard of!
First though, can I hear a ‘hell yeah’ for the little effort that is being made to this section of town? I know Galway is not big enough to have a Chinatown, but if you swing around from Asiatic grocery store over near Sally Longs, all the way down to Papa Rich in Woodquay, you hit a plethora of Asian businesses. If only someone would open a Korean restaurant – we’d be all set!
So where to start with this little gem of a restaurant? Well, there is a story, of course, behind it. And it all starts with us struggling to find a decent Chinese Restaurant. We lucked out with Japanese Food because we have Kappa Ya and every time I want my Sushi fix Wa Cafe is the only place I’d go to … but a decent Chinese takeaway? Not easy at all to find. They all have gloopy corn-syrupy sauces and almost every dish tastes the same. Yeuch.
Needless to say, when we discovered the award winning Asian Tea House, we just stopped looking. To dine in, or carry out, it fits the bill every time. Well, at least it did. But then a few months ago, we noticed a dip in the taste and quality of the food and started to get a little disenchanted with it. So we tried out a new place on the docks, where Bar 8 used to be, called Neo. Also delicious and designed as a carry-out where you can dine in. In other words, everything comes in cute little takeaway boxes and you dump it into a bowl yourself if you decide to dine in.
All well and good, but then less than a few months later, we see the flashing ‘open’ lights of Papa Rich go up and could not wait to taste their wares – only to find out that co-owner and executive chef Kevin, worked previously at both the Asian Tea House and Neo.
Galway is so small guys and dolls. You can taste the difference when a good Chef moves around, and as long as you can keep following the ones you love, then you should have no problems!
A lot of work has gone into the renovations of this little eatery. Papa Rich is located in Woodquay, above Bar an Chaladh, where Lunares Tapas Restaurant used to be. If you are familiar with McSwiggans, just stand with your back to their main door and look to the left and up a little.
Traipsing up the stairs is enough to whet ones appetite as the smells from the kitchen lead the way into the very comfortably decorated dining room. To get the nitty gritty out of the way, the most expensive item on the menu is ten euros. Yes. €10. So, lets just say, for the leaner months of your wallet, this is a welcome relief to all of us!
With open arms, we are greeted and seated by Rebecca, co-owner with her chef husband Kevin. This gorgeous couple from Malaysia have taken the brave and crazy plunge into entrepreneurship after years of working in the industry for other people.
‘The time was right. We had lived in Limerick for about 15 years and just wanted to do our own thing. We knew Galway was the right choice for us, and once we started looking, we found this spot pretty quickly. It was meant to be” said Rebecca. “Right now, we are in the honeymoon phase and our daughter Ruby, 18 moths old, is spending a lot of time with her Nana (my Mum Rachel) in Limerick. Once things are running smoothly we are looking forward to a nice balance of work and family time!”
Papa Rich’s attentive staff honed in on the tweens immediately, helping answer their menu questions. Rebecca explained that everything is cooked from scratch in the kitchen (by her husband Kevin) so it might take a little while longer than traditional Asian restaurants.
We had plenty of time so settled in to our comfortable seats and watched the Saturday lunch crowd fill the 40 ish seat restaurant.
Now, any restaurant that has a shiny large bottle of Sriracha sauce on the table is going to lure me in, but it also raised an eyebrow. Himself wondered if that meant we had to ‘add our own heat’ which we could say is the norm for a lot of the Asian restaurants here in the west, as many establishments have adapted the menu to suit the tastebuds of the Irish. Note to readers … we did not need it!
The menu has little red flames after each item, alerting the diners to the level of heat they should expect, and once you choose 5-flames (and eat the dish of course) your photo is added to their ‘wall of flame’.
Rebecca rambled off a few specials of the day but it was a unanimous decision – Calamari to liven up the tastebuds.
As you can see from the photo, there was barely time to take a photo. I often regret bring the kids with me, as they have no patience when it comes to waiting for anyone to take a photo!
The freshness of the Calamari, dredged in breadcrumbs and fried lightly, was sublime and the crunchy cabbage and carrot slaw drizzled with a light coconut and peanut dressing – also delicious.
There were a few referencers to ‘Grandma’ on the menu so we asked Rebecca what that was all about:
“Grandma’s curry, is inspired by Kevin’s grandmother. She is such a good cook. She cooks food and the taste will make memories as Kevin would say! A lot of our dishes are inspired by family recipes, Kevin’s mum, his grandmother, and my mum (Rachel) too, oh and also his grandpa’s recipe for the sauce on the BBQ RIBS, except Kev ads a bit of a sneaky twist to it!”
You gotta love a restaurant that involves the whole family. Rachel and Kevin live only a short hop from the city centre and her aunt and uncle live nearby too and offer extra support; This is truly a family-run restaurant!
Of the four main courses we ordered, each one was quite unique in the sense that all sauces and broths were very different and we all ‘had’ to share.
I am sure you are more interested in the crispy Chicken (above dish), which was gorgeous, but the real winner on the plate here was the onion slaw. We all love raw onions at Chez Wise, but this was unlike any slaw we had ever tasted before. It was a combo of green, white and red onions, with a nice coating (but not smothered) of home-made sweet chili sauce. Now, here’s the thing about sweet Chili sauce.
Its like Asian Ketchup – and I also hate ketchup. This had such a unique fresh taste, I was just delighted to scoff down the slaw. And, incase you are worried about the after effects of raw onion (on your breath or otherwise) fear not, there was enough vinegar to treat the onions, so the sharpness had dissipated and all that was left was sweet sweet crunchy yum! I will be asking for the onion slaw on the side next time I go back.
Himself had one of the Noodle Bowls, because this was something that is missing from other Asian restaurants in town. They either don’t serve them, or the broth sucks; Not so at Papa Rich.
Minced Pork and Prawn dumplings with Asian greens, Dan Dan noodles and a rich broth makes this the best €10 bowl of yum in town. Sweet mother is was spicy at only 2 flames – this was when we gave each other the happy nod of understanding. These guys are serving and selling their food according to how they think you should eat it. They are not quieting the flavour or flame and woo hoo … it was delicious right to the last fought-over drop!
Another dish, which was a huge hit with the kids, was this peanut sauce curry like dish. Battered Prawns, with mixed shredded veg, cherry tomatoes and pineapple all smothered in a spicy Vietnamese peanut sauce. There was plate licking going on here lads; I was mortified.
I pine for a decent Pho. But again, nowhere in the city is serving a decent bowl of rich broth and noodles … until now that is. When I originally took a look at Papa Rich’s menu, my eyes just stopped right here on this dish and I knew it would be every bit as tasty as I needed it to be. It is not labeled as Pho. It is a Spicy Vietnamese Noodle Bowl … but it’s Pho enough for me!
I chose to have Prawns with the Ho-Fun noodles and it came hopping out of the kitchen .. with Asian greens, mixed veg, plenty of coriander, lime leaf, basil, and mint in a gorgeous rich broth .. and some of their (need to buy some!) garlic chili paste. Oh sweet divine mother I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was just bliss. Every bite. Every drop.
Food like this nourishes the heart and soul. Your eyes have feasted on pretty food, the service is attentive and not at all intrusive, and the water bottles were constantly kept full, just incase your choice of ‘flame’ was too brave.
And as if that was not enough, and there is no mention of it on their menu either, we were presented with a sampling of desserts. I, not having a sweet tooth, could not resist the homemade ice-cream with peanuts and oreo crumbs on top. More plate licking followed.
You do not need any excuses to go to Papa Rich for lunch – especially if you are working in town, at NUI Galway, or at the hospital. It’s a short walk in to Woodquay and the lunches are flying out of the kitchen – so tell your friends and co-workers! I can imagine if you were visiting a friend or family member, ill in hospital, that those broth soups would be a welcome relief from hospital food! Please take note, if I am ever in hospital, and you are coming to visit me, this is what I want!
As we were leaving, I noticed one of my work colleagues enjoying a delicious lunch with her hubby and was delighted that word has already gotten out about how excellent this new restaurant really is.
If I have not convinced you, why not check out the comments on Trip Advisor? I am going to put a review up there too … and I rarely do that!
That’s all for now guys and dolls … let me know if you try it out.
All I want this year, is a truly beautiful Galway Christmas.
Sadly, my children no longer believe in you; we never saw it coming.
One minute they were cute, small and believing, and the next thing we knew, they were lanky, long and thieving.
So this year I am requesting a few treats from a few of my favourite Galway shops making our Galway Christmas all the more special. Seeing as we are still planning on honouring the terms of our contract and plan on feeding yourself and the reindeers, I thought I might take advantage of you being none the wiser of the kids sudden state of awareness and ask for a few gorgeous Galway gifts – just for myself and himself this year, seeing as you do not have to blow the budget on the kids anymore! He does, after all, do all the feeding of you and your eight not-so-tiny reindeer.
So first things first … and in case you do not even know where to start … I am just gonna give you my Top Five or Seven Favourites … in no order of importance at all .. you decide Santa .. we have both been very nice (not naughty at all!) this year .. and to be frank, could use a little cheering up.
Let’s face it Santa. We, in Galway, have come a long long way in craft brewing over the last few years. Only last week I was blogging about the lads over at Galway Hooker Brewing because they have a new beer out that we love – so it’s simple. Please Santa – can we have some more? (Upcoming blog post later this week will be all about making a traditional Swiss Fondue using Beer – making it no longer a Swiss thang … totally giving it the Irish flavour it deserves!).
Yes – this one is for me. Or for any deserving lassies you know Santa. There is this gorgeous little shop at the bottom of town, on the Spanish Arch … called Cobwebs. Santa … it is a treasure trove of wearable history. Sure, they have gorgeous new shiny gems too, but it is the antique pieces that speak to me.
Ok – I know, I know. Nothing Irish (or Galwegian) about this one at all, right? Eh, no – wrong – dead wrong. See, Santa, there is a new bar and restaurant in town, where all the cool kids are hanging out, called Tribeton. And Santa … they have a massive selection of beautiful bourbons. So much so, that a gift certificate to Tribeton would be a total treat for the two of us Bourbon aficionados … t’would remind us our ole Kentucky home – well Cincinnati, Ohio but its on the border like.
Now, that is not to say that I would not be upset at all with a Gift certificate to our favourite, and in almost everyone’s opinion, the best restaurant in Galway.
Right. This one is kinda sorta for me, but I’m a-gonna be honest and tell you if you bestow a gift certificate upon me for this gorgeous shop, My Granny Likes it, I will most likely re-gift it immediately as I have been forbidden from ever going in there. Santa, they stock everything, and I mean everything from incredibly talented crafty and artsy Irish folk. My most sought after piece right now is a piece by Armagh artist Stephen Farnan .
My re-gifting efforts would not go to waste, as I would post lots of these cute colouring kits to my Irish friends and family, who are dotted all over the world and no doubt, missing the motherland at Christmas. It’s probably a blessing in disguise, but I am still sad that I can’t purchase these on line from this cute little shop – if you must pop in yourself, you will surely understand why I have been forbidden to go there.
Now Santa…..I know what you are going to say about this one. Yes. it is true, we do indeed have lots of our own butchered meat in the freezer for the winter. And when we do step outside of our own meat raring, it is to buy Pork (and this year Lamb) from our friends in Tipperary at OldFarm. But on occasion, himself and myself love nothing more than to sit down to a beautiful piece of crimson, marbled with intricate traceries of fat, grass fed beef.
Tormey’s Butcher Shop in the Galway Shopping Centre isthe only place we buy Organic Chickens, beautifully aged grass-fed Rib eye of Beef and (special order) Veal Chops. And before you go all crazy on me Santa, I am referring to the 35+ week old grass and milk fed Rose Veal, not raised in crates. In response to your concern though, some farmers have adopted more organic, free range operations for raising their calves. Crating is banned in a number of countries, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, and several states in the US. Sales of free-range veal have increased in recent years, which hopefully will prompt larger producers to change their farming methods.
Ok – I know I said I would only give you my Top Five … but I have worked up an unquenchable thirst while working on this list, so thought it best to add in a few of my favourite bottles of wine. We are promised a cold Winter here Santa in Galway. Nothing as cold as the North Pole like, but we are eagerly anticipating a few lovely long weeks of low lights and lazy days intertwined with blazing fires offering up a calmness @ChezWise like never seen before.
So first up for the wine fridge, how about a bottle of this flawless NZ Pinot Grigio? With it’s signature pale pink blush from the Pinot Grigio grape, we have been known to gift to our friends over the festive season .. and they too love it .. but then we are left with none for ourselves. .. and this makes me sad, Santa.
Another popular bottle of wine which you could happily bestow on us is this gorgeous oaky Sicilian red wine. The native Nero d’Avola grapes with the world travelled Cabernet, brings us a blissful blend.
Both of these wines, along with a massive amount more excellent wines, can be found at Cases Wine Warehouse along the Tuam road.
Last little mention goes to Solaris Teas. Santa, if nothing else, bring some home to Mrs. Claus for a well earned tea-break!
Right so Santa….. there you have it. A few nice treats for myself and himself … most of which will be shared with our friends and family because we don’t like to eat or drink alone … and because without our friends and family, life would be rather dull, wouldn’t it Santa?
We are gearing up for a lovely Irish Thanksgiving here with our friends and family in Galway this week. We hope, wherever you are in the world, you can take a minute out to offer up a little thanks for your health, your family and your friends.
That is all for now guys n’ dolls …. happy shopping!
For five long years I have been receiving invites to attend Campo Viejo Wines #TapasTrail events in Dublin.
And then a few years ago, I started receiving invitations to attend Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail events in Cork.
Sounds a little like always the bridesmaid and never the bride for poor little Galway, doesn’t it?
Good news wine peeps! The folks at Campo Viejo Wines have finally seen the light and have given Galway a trial run with their #TapasTrail!
So, how was it then?
The whole idea of a #TapasTrail with Campo Viejo Wines, is that you pop along to four different locations in the city, guided by one of the expertly trained Campo Viejo guides. Ours did not pretend to know a ton about the wines, but by golly he was well versed in the history of Galway.
The way it works, is pretty simple. For €30 (tickets can be bought here) you get to enjoy four glasses of wine, in four different restaurants, all offering up a selection of interesting Tapas, paired with the wine.
We started our afternoon of fun meeting some old and new friends at The House Hotel. Although welcomed with a glass of the Campo Viejo Cava, Brut Reserve, we were introduced to the Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2010, as our wine of the evening.
Eh, what now? Ok, maybe I did not read the fine print on the aul invite. I thought it was four different wines in four different locations … but, eh, no. It was the same wine served in all four restaurants.
So………. that little snafu aside, everything went rather well to be honest.
We started with a gorgeous dish from The House Hotel which consisted of a perfectly balanced and chilled Gazpacho, grilled Prawns drizzled in a garlicky pesto oil, and a deep fried Pork Croquette in a finger licking mayonnaise.
Although we were allowed three hours to accomplish our tour and tastings on the #TapasTrail, we were hurried along to the next location, Cava Bodega, only to be halted along the street to be given a little history lesson.
Now, as the lion’s share of the group were from Galway, we all thought this was rather cheeky of yer man from ‘Kerry via Dublin’ to be giving us a history lesson on our own home town … but, wouldn’t you know, he knocked it out of the park.
Hats off to Campo Viejo Wines for this one – they clearly recruit avid historians with a love for all things history, food and wine!
Moving on, our stay in Cava Bodega was all too brief. The food came flying out of the kitchen, and the wine was pre-poured and ready to drink when we were seated in the main upper room of the restaurant.
The pinchos, made with slow cooked pork belly were devine melt in your mouth little bites of heaven, but the bread was a bit stale so there was les of the melting; the Patatas Bravas – sorry but I can’t get excited about a fried potato with mayonnaise … and then … there was another dish with chick peas and black pudding … the chick peas were great and would have been excellent served alone …. but with the black pudding? No thanks. Unless it is fried and crispy I am not interested, and this black pudding just ended up being a soggy mess served in a bowl with tasty chickpeas…
Moving on, we were walked, the long way around through the city, over to Sheridans Cheesemongers who have a quaint little wine bar above the cheese shop. Seamus Sheridan popped in to give us a little talk about Food Provenance, and had the crowd in stitches with his stories. You can always depend on Seamus for the entertainment.
The food, a selection of excellent cheeses, and a (sparse) sampling of Spanish Serrano Ham and Chorizo, all served with (stale) bread.
I know that is the second reference I have made to stale bread .. but hey, I am married to a baker, and he was my date for the afternoon .. it’s one of those silly little things that lets you down … most decent breads freeze really well, then a few minutes in the oven, right out of the freezer, can give you a fresh loaf of bread in a jiffy – there is little or no excuse for stale bread folks.
As we moved on, our wine guide explained that the concept of pouring the same wine and each of the locations was to show us how versatile the wine really is, and that it can indeed be paired with just about any type of food.
As we were headed to the Kitchen Café at the Museum, I had already had enough of the red wine and was dying for a cup of tea .. no joke.
But, that was not part of the plan, so more red wine was had. Hey man, when in Rome, right?
Michelle Crehan, a GMIT Culinary Arts graduate, had lined up a beautiful Limoncello Cake and Chocolate Truffles to be paired with the wine. This went down very well with the group and I even overheard a few people ask for more!
So to wrap things up, let me tell you what I really think about the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway.
I think it was a lot of fun. I think, for €30, I would have preferred to try at least three if not four different varieties of their wines. I also think, if on a first date this is a great idea, or could be a lot of fun if you wanted to entertain your employees for an evening.
If you are in the mood to get drunk or explore new wines, this ain’t for you, because 1. They pour small amounts, which I was happy to see, and 2. You would only be exploring one wine.
There are still two evenings of the Campo Viejo Wine #TapasTrail in Galway left to go (Wed. Sept. 2nd … 6pm and Wed. Sept. 9th…6pm).
If you want to buy tickets .. click here.
On a side note, the best dish of the evening goes to The House Hotel – hands down an winner. I have never had a good reason to write about the food at this location, or the drinks for that matter, and I even recall once when one of their bartenders did not now how to make a Negroni or a Dirty Dirty (Gin) Martini so I lost interest. AND, like many hotels, it suffers from common symptoms of ‘tastes like hotel food’ disease. Himself and myself have taken note of the deliciousness we tasted tonight and will report back in a month or two after we sample it again a few times.
That’s all for now folks … everyone is back to school and work this week – so the traffic is gonna be mental – remember – stay calm … this too shall pass!
Campo Viejo Wines did cover the cost of our afternoon soiree swilling wines and eating Tapas in Galway this afternoon. They did not ask for a damn thing in return. I decided to blog about this one because I am always sceptical about these tours and trails – they just sound a bit gimmicky and like they might be a tourist trap … this one was great fun and we had might craic with new and old friends.
The Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro1 High Street, Galway, Ireland
Nestled on the corner of High Street and Cross Street, directly opposite Tigh Neachtain, sits the intimate Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro. Back in the day, this building was home to one of Galway’s most beautiful lingerie shops, still missed by many, and since their closure several years ago, nothing serious has grasped my attention in that location, until now.
Teeny and tinier are the two rooms they boast; one downstairs seating a handful (14) at deuces and four tops, and the slightly roomier upstairs, which can seat up to 28. An ideal spot for hosting a private party; Christmas is only a few weeks away after all!
We have eaten here several times over the last few months, mostly stolen quiet lunch breaks without the kids, as this place, perhaps because of its size, really lends itself to being one of Galway’s more romantic eateries.
Last Monday, the first evening of the Galway races, we had a siblings n’ spouses supper at the Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro, and if this is something you all put on the long finger and rarely plan, then it is time to take the finger out and make a few reservations.
I have found, the more time we spend with our siblings, now that we are all adults, the more we can laugh and cry at just how much fun and hard work this parenting gig really is.
Our evening got off to a jovial start as glasses of Prosecco (€7.50 per glass), and a couple of Peronis for the lads, flooded the table before and during our first course , before we selected El Meson Rioja Crianza, 2010, Tempranillo, Spain €29.50, to lead us on to the main courses.
There were no complaints from all diners, with the exception of one. The salad of warm duck confit (€8), had too much duck and not enough greens. I know this sounds like beggars can’t be choosers, but in our constant effort to find places that serve excellent salads, it is all about finding the right balance, which this dish lacked.
As the water and wine flowed, and appetites waned, we moved on to bigger bites.
One of the lads had ordered sea scallops with a wedge of fried potato and pea puree. This dish looked the business, and certainly tasted excellent too with one exception. It was served with confit chicken wings too. The wings were placed in between each scallop. Now, even when reading the menu, I questioned the why of pairing fowl with fish, and whilst each item was cooked and seasoned and served perfectly, we all agreed that they had no business being on the same plate together.
Ron ordered the seafood pasta dish LINGUINI DE LA MER, €19, and enjoyed it. It was not out of this world and could have used a bit more heat, but the pasta was cooked perfectly and seafood was fresh, for a Monday!
All dishes came presented in the most beautiful manner, with smooth and seamless service from one more than competent server who seemed to be handling the upper and lower floors at the same time. The Latin Quarter Bistro showcases the finest of Irish food on a beautiful selection of Steelite (Alumina Vitrified, Performance) Craft line and if you have not swooned or salivated over these dishes as of yet, then take a minute to do so now right here … Dear Santa … sigh
Needless to say, as the evening wore on, and we all settled in for glasses of port and Sheridans Cheese boards, there was no need to wrap things up and move on to another venue. We were happily sated.
Overall, The Latin Quarter Wine Bar and Bistro ranks high on our lists of eateries in Galway. The intimate setting, the excellent service, the carefully thought out wine list, and affordable prices, makes this one we will return to again and again.
Let me know if you decide to try it out, or if you have already been there for a bite?
Thanks for reading,
You know how it is …. summer holidays kick into high gear at the end of June and before you know it, it is the middle of July and you haven’t stopped for a second to just…………… breathe.
The kids are on high doe as all ‘the cousins’ are here for the next three weeks. To say they are having fun is an understatement. They are all still of the age where so they are happy enough hanging out with their parents and the trampoline has never seen so much action!
They are all getting bigger and bolder and our eldest starts secondary school in September. I’ll tell you, as cliché as it sounds … where does the bloody time go?
Right now, they are signed up for a month of Tennis lessons. It was so much fun watching them all battle it out on the court today – cousins against the ‘home’ team. They are ferocious competitors but still very much into having FUN while they learn. I can tell, as Friday approaches, their Tennis coach is really looking forward to his two days off!
Despite a bit of rain here and there, the weather has stayed dry enough for them to play and wet enough to force everyone to take a bit of time out to catch up on summer reading and relax.
Last week, we had a lovely 4th of July celebration with one of our friends, and also former employee, visiting from USA. We try to always have Americans in the house for July 4th and for Thanksgiving – which falls on November 26th this year – so if you fancy popping over for a visit, start planning now!
We have been spending A LOT of time over at the new park on the Westside of the city. This is one of the best facilities we have on our doorsteps with a running track, a rollerblade path, a fenced in skateboard area, a gated tiny tots playground, a zip line cable, and swings and monkey bars too.
The hill leading to the climbing apparatuses is covered in a blanket of wildflowers right now and I’m sure there have been many vases of Poppy’s perched on plenty of peoples windowsills these past few weeks.
Another excellent feature of this park is the weight training machines dotted all along one side of the rollerblade path. I have seen so many people using these machines over the last few months.
Although we no longer have toddlers, the Tiny Tots playground is well designed too and I have met a host of Mum’s at this park who love the freedom it gives them and their kids to just ‘play’.
Back at Chez Wise we have ‘cut the crap’ right out of the family diet. About a month ago we decided to just throw any crap sweet treats in the bin and told the kids if we made it/baked it, they could have it, otherwise there would be no treats. This has had an excellent result, with the kids baking more each week and learning how to make their own cordials to mix with sparkling water.
And finally …. because you might be headed West for a little getaway – there is a few new places in town open for business. The first one, is a cute little French restaurant called Le Petit Pois.
Run by a husband/wife team from Brittany, France, they just opened last week. The 40 seat restaurant is beautifully designed and decorated and I hope they have a very busy summer! Their wine list, and extensive wine knowledge, is well worth the visit for the oenophiles out there.
Another FUN place to put on your list is the new bar at the top of Eyre Square called McGettigans. Yes, I know it sounds very twee…. it is a massive global company with several bars dotted all over the world, and their sign out front is not all that inviting either, but this place is decorated quite nicely.
Plush booths flank the walls downstairs and they offer decent prices on beer and they have the kind of menu that caters to large groups. I was in there just a few days ago and had a gorgeous bowl of chowder n’ ciabatta for €6.50 and tip top service was offered when I visited; I can’t wait to go back for more!
Ok – that is it for now … I just wanted to check in with y’all to see how your summer is going.
I will be laying low for the next few weeks as my siblings are home for a few weeks, and we are enjoying a bit of family time before my brother’s wedding in a few days.
There is much drinking and dancing to be done!
I hope you are having a fabulous summer wherever you are.
There are quite a few Polish shops in Galway. I have popped in and out of most of them, doing the odd price check on a few items but am always that little bit hesitant to go wild and buy lots of stuff, because let’s face it, my Polish sucks.
Several months ago, a friend of ours brought us a box full of Polish Doughnuts to give our kids a sugar high they have still not come down from. She had stopped in to a tiny little Polish bakery called The Little Teapot in the Liosbán shopping centre. (Take first RIGHT after the Ulster Bank).
So a few weeks later, the Chef, always interested in checking out the competition, popped in to see what they had on offer and he was quite impressed himself. These doughnuts, are a far cry from the Krispy Kremes you might be pining for. As a matter of fact, they aren’t really anything like the traditional sugar-sprinkled doughnuts-with-a-hole you might already love.
They are pillows of jam (or custard) filled goodness, best eaten fresh from the fryer. This little bakery is worth a visit.
They have a few tables and chairs, so you can have a cuppa coffee when you go. They have a host of other baked goods on offer too and everything is priced quite affordably.
Now, seeings as you are in the neighbourhood, right out in front, just a few doors down from the Ulster Bank along the main Tuam road (N-17), you will see a sign for what looks to be just another pizza place in Galway.
Be adventurous and pop in for lunch or supper sometime. Now, when you walk in the door, you will notice a decent amount of tables and way back in the back, the first thing you are going to spy is the massive Pizza oven and a guy tossing the dough around. Ok – so their pizza is pretty excellent.
Not quite as good as our favourite Pizza place, or our second favourite pizza place, but definitely worth your time and money. We like to get the large pizza (20″) as they make 3-pizzas-in-one for us and this suits all the tastebuds in our family. Be warned, the Diablo is hot-n-spicy – for real.
BUT the real reason to stop in here for a bite to eat, is the cafeteria style food they are serving in the back. Yes – the harsh glow of the yellow food lamps do not do it justice so I’m a gonna let my words do the work here.
The soup, never the dull-n-dreary ‘veg soup’ we still see in so many Irish eateries, changes on a regular basis but their light creamy broth loaded with al-dente broccoli is just a damn fine soup.
There are a few different sauces lined up to go along with whatever meat you choose as your staple. The choices range from breaded and fried Pork Chops (yes they are excellent), chicken breast pounded thin and smothered in sumptuous mozzarella, and a few other chicken and pork offerings.
Cabbage is a big staple in the Polish diet, but not as we know it. This place, puts on a display of five (possibly more) types of slaw and salads for the taking, and a couple of beetroot salads too. Because they are in Ireland, they are smart enough to keep spuds on the menu, offering mashed and roasties … which were just ok – nothing at all to write home about, but the sauces and gravies they offered alongside were good enough to make up for this. As an example, lunch for two adults, including a glass of their homemade mixed fruit (quite tart) juice offering was just under €20. You can’t beat it with a stick.
Now, I am sure you are wondering, why on earth am I blogging about a middle-of-the-road cafeteria-style restaurant located in the middle of a busy little industrial estate. There is nothing sexy about this right?
Wrong. Since I moved home to Galway (in 2008) the food scene has blossomed and bloomed in the loveliest of ways. Restaurants and cafés have popped up and a few local and very talented chefs are interested in banding together to promote our city as the food capital of Ireland.
But a few high-end restaurants and over-sharing chefs, does not a strong city food-scene build. John McKenna was chatting with Keith Finnegan on the radio a few weeks back and he said that the reason Galway’s food scene was thriving, was because we had a lot of middle-of-the-road restaurants.
None of us eat dine at the fancy places once a week. When we go out to eat, with our without the brats, we want honest-to-goodness sustenance at a price that will not break the bank and the assurance we don’t have to do the dishes.
Sure, we want local, and more importantly want to see the restaurants support local farmers, but the reality is, middle of the road restaurants are here to stay and most of us love ’em.
Now, to wrap up my little spiel on the Polish goodness on offer in our little city-by-the-sea, gather up your shoppings bags and head to one of the more recently opened Polo Stores. They are loads of them in Dublin, and according to one of the lassies who works with Ron at Morton’s of Galway, this is one of the best Polish Grocery shops in town.
Polo Stores Galway
Unit 4, Tower House,
Tuam Road. Galway.
(091) 441 – 044
Now, I know … the packaging and labels are all in Polish, but trust me, that should not stop you from popping in for a look. There are a few things in this shop you need to buy.
Ron asked his co-worker (Marta) to meet us at the Polo Store last week and she gave us a translated tour of the shop. She.was.brilliant.
Right inside the door, the first thing she picked up was a packet of spice powder for a quick (3-day) pickle. Just add water and cucumber.
Right beside that, was a packet of dehydrated beetroot. I have ground this with my mortar and pestle and added it to mayonnaise and yoghurt. Oh-em-gee……delicious and, eh, pink!
Moving right along the aisles, the question begged ‘why are there over 20 different jars of pickles?’ Well, apparently, aside from a few that have chilis in the jar for a bit of extra heat, the only real difference is the brand label. Just made by a different company – nothing to be afraid of.
Marta’s advice was simple – if in doubt, look at the picture on the packet. For the most part, it tells you what the product is. My personal experience, in all the Polish shops in town, is to just ask for help. Clearly, and if you are a woman you will understand, this is the easiest thing to do. If you are a man however, it is kind of like asking for directions – and you might end up spreading shoe polish on your toast.
Speaking of toast ………
Sweet jeebus …. this little tub of mushroom paste … on toast, or a cracker, or added into a soup that needs flavour. Definitely a great addition to a sandwich too.
Admittedly, we already have bag of chicken hearts in the freezer, but where else would you find this in Galway?
The frozen plums are perfect for your morning smoothie if that’s the kind of way you roll, but we love to roast ’em with honey and set them atop a bit of ice-cream.
The green label on the fresh soft cheese packets is low fat and the red is full fat.
Both packets are just excellent in flavour and price, and while you are in the refrigerated section look for little packets of fresh yeast (less than €1 per pack) and their Pork lard is pretty excellent quality too. It’s the makes you want to make a bit of pastry right away kinda-lard.
Ok – so this is the most I can offer on a rainy Sunday morning from Galway this bank holiday weekend. The main thing is to get in there and try something new.
We are headed over to the Claregalway Sunday Market to peruse the goodies on offer this week!
Thanks for stopping in for a read.
Spanish Arch, Galway
(091) 567 865
Earlier this year – the folks from Thai Garden participated in the Galway Food Fest.
Watch their little video here. It is just gorgeous.
If Trip Advisor is anything to go by, and let’s face it, they do have some serious clout when researching restaurants and hotels online, then there is no reason not to put Thai Garden on your list of places to eat next time you are feeling peckish in Galway.
A few weeks ago, after having spent the afternoon Geocaching with the kids, we ended up at Thai Garden for supper. Taking the kids to supper in town is not something we like to do often and there are many reasons for this.
The first being that they are still at a fairly rambunctious age with all four of them ranging in age from 8 – 13. The second reason, already cited in the first, is that there are FOUR of them, and the third reason … possibly the ‘real’ reason we leave them at home, is that they are little savages.
I’m not kidding. That whole ‘encourage your kids to eat everything from a young age’ – what a bad bad idea. You end up having kids sit at a table in a restaurant ordering anything and everything – then eating it all and never given the kids menu a look. This gets expensive. Fast. Multiply it by four and you’ll feel my pain.
They must have felt sorry for us when we arrived as I was trying to hold on to one of the friskier ones by the ear, in order to prevent him from knocking over one of the tables as he tore through the main entrance way of the restaurant right off the Spanish arch, kind of opposite the fast food Mexican joint, Boojum.
As soon as we were seated outdoors – right on the Spanish Arch, they brought us an ice cold bottle of French white wine. Normally I look at the wine label and even glance at the price before sampling … but the sun was shining and the wine, which Tariquet Classic at six euros a glass, was fabulous.
The menu was a little overwhelming to be honest. They first gave us a menu that was like called ‘Gup Glaam’ which just means Thai Tapas and every single one of the items on that sounded delicious. Ron and the kids were getting antsy so he ordered a bunch of items – most of which I never got to try because (a) they were starving and (b) they were all delicious.
I did manage to try the BBQ Shrimp which had a massive amount of white pepper in the sauce and that was interesting, unlike any BBQ sauce I have ever tried actually, and I’m determined to make it at home myself. Ha ha .. no, just kidding. I am determined to get my husband to make it. I will come back to you with a recipe for it though – it was that good.
Chicken wings, Calamari, Summer spring rolls ……….. excellent flavours, fresh and cooked perfectly. Each portion all five euros. Well worth it and I’d even venture to say that this would be plenty for any of the smallies in your family. They were overly cautious on asking us about the spiciness of everything – but we assured them we could all handle the heat. Every bite was seasoned perfectly.
While we were all enjoying our appetizers, the (very attentive) waiter kept coming back asking us for our order. We were intent on just chilling for the evening but I got the impression he could feel the tidal wave of business they were about to get slammed with and he just wanted to get our order in to the kitchen.
We were hemming and hawing quite a bit over what to order and in the end, a little exasperated and I’m sure he would have loved to Reverse Yelp us!, he just asked simply if he should place the order for us. He made a few quick suggestions which included beef, fish, chicken, prawns and the rest of the evening was just glorious.
The above dish, was a family favourite and we will be going back to have this again and again. Fried sea bass with a spicy chili oil. WOW…still licking the fingers here. The only dish we did not care for was the Prawn Pad Thai.
I was sad about this because I love a decent Pad Thai and as far as I am concerned the best on in the city is from Asian Tea house. I think Thai Garden could benefit from popping in to have a bite of theirs and try to improve their own. The noodles were too soggy and the there was no fresh slivers of onions or other fresh veggies and the sauce was just very bland.
But don’t let this stop you from going because everything else was worth going back for.
The service staff were zipping all around the place in fervent fashion by the time we were ready to go, and we fully intending to skip dessert and head home, but the kids were tempted by the fried Banana … yes – it was good, and the frozen orange sorbet – which we are making at home this weekend – because it was just incredible.
So in a nutshell … this is a grand place to go for supper with your loved ones. The folks there are so nice, and have given me a gift certificate to share with our readers. Dinner for two plus wine.
I’m going to ask you to sing for your supper.
A little rhyme please letting me know why you need a little treat. I’m going to pick the winner so make it good!
Thanks for reading along and brace yourself … Schools out for summer!!
T: +353 91 865200
“Welcome to the g hotel Ron & Móna – we hope you enjoy your stay” – That is what the note said when we checked into the g hotel a few weeks ago for a night of deliciousness.
Over the last five years, we have dined at the g hotel a few times, and to be honest, the food has never wowed us. We usually left feeling underwhelmed and certainly not feeling like we had just had a five-star dining experience. I had heard from several of my food-loving friends around town that the food was alright – but nothing to write home about. The national food critics come and go annually it seems and give it great kudos – nice hotel, decent menu, a bit pricey but worth it. So I have carefully avoided writing about it – until now.
The g hotel is the only 5 star hotel in our city and I think they have done an excellent job of selling their brand; everyone knows what it is, and where it is but it has developed a reputation with the locals as ‘pricey’ and even ‘a special occassion’ place.
There is no question that this place is pricey at €120 per person (a special rate on their website for an overnight accommodation with a three-course dinner & a leisurely full Irish breakfast the following morning) and I am happy to report, if you are saving your pennies for a nice night or two in the West this summer, then look no further. It is worth every penny.
The capabale crew at the G Hotel checked us in and guided us to our room in a flash, in the middle of what appeared to be a chaotic Friday afternoon of hotel check-ins.
After having a mooch around our room, we took the halls and meandered around the hotel trying to get a feel for what Philip Treacy was thinking when he put pen to paper, or brush to easel, when he began designing the look and feel to this funky hotel.
Bright colours – neon lights and carefully chosen pieces of art decking the halls, walls, and windows throughout the hotel led us to believe that the main objective for anyone staying at the G Hotel should be, quite simply, having FUN.
Whilst meandering around the lobby, through the grand salon and on past the bar, we stumbled upon the restaurant service crew in the middle of a staff meeting. They were enjoying a sampling of several new menu items …………..
and as luck would have it, I had my camera
surgically attached with me so was able to grab a couple of quick shots of the food and the dining room before the hustle and bustle of the evening took hold.
The crew were all quite relaxed and were eager to tear into the meals they were drooling over. In typical food blogger fashion I asked them to all hold a plate closer to the window so I could shed natural light on a few of these delectable dishes .. before the sun began to slink away for the evening. They were only too happy to oblige.
Shortly after that, we traipsed back up to our room to take a long hot bath in the gorgeous soaking tub then bolted downstairs for cocktails and dinner. We met up with another couple
also impossible to please and we all deliberated on menu options for much longer than was necessary. The drinks whetted the appetite … a delicious selection of top shelf Bourbons, flights of whiskeys and the piece de resistence … Galway Hooker – on tap.
Our waiter Stephen, who looked like the guy who chose the short straw and got stuck with the worst customers ever, informed us that he was not being punished … he assured us were were randomly seated in his section. One rocky table got us of to a dodgy start (a big pet peeve of mine) but he fixed it in a flash, giving me no reason to start griping. Attention to detail and the ability to understand customer’s body langauge is a skill many restaurants managers, and customers, wish to see in the service crew.
One of our dinner guests eats an entirely Gluten free diet and we were all delighted to see that a GF beer featured on the drinks list. It would be nice to see more GF beers on restaurant/bar menus, especially in Galway where there is a higher rate of people afflicted with Celiacs disease. The menu at the G Hotel offers several (I mean way more than any other restaurant I have ever seen) GF items. They even have ‘AGF’ written beside a few items – which means just ‘ask’ your waiter to see if the chef can make it GF. I gotta tell you guys n’dolls … I’m seeing a #hastag already circulating in my head – #GlutenFreeAtTheG
Their willingness to cater to customers who cannot tolerate gluten in their diet, is commendable.
The food (with or without gluten) was excellent, and a few of the dishes even exquisite. A starter of scallops with pea puree and small pieces of fried black pudding, could only have been improved had their been one more scallop – and no black pudding.
I think now is a perfect opportunity for this to be stated .. the’ black-pudding-on-everything’ days, needs to come to an end. I am not sure which Irish chef thought this was a brilliant idea, as it has been going on for at least 8 years now … but it is time to let it go. Were it to catch on on a global scale, it would have happened by now; It hasn’t. Black pudding’s place is best left at the breakfast table. It otherwise just ruins a perfectly delicious dish. And this is coming from someone who likes black pudding. Imagine how the folks who hate it feel?
The Kinvara smoked Salmon plate was not only a beautifully presented plate, it had ample (tasty n’ tangy) dressing to go along with it and the Beef Carpaccio (below) whilst looked ah-mazing, fell a little short on flavour but nothing that could not be tweaked in a flash for the next time. I don’t know about you, but when eating raw beef, the holy trinity of raw garlic, olive oil and parmesano reggiano are essential to the success of this beautiful appetiser.
Moving on to the main event, we had toyed with the idea of ordering the châteaubriand of beef but at €99.00 for two people, we decided to table it for another time. I’m happy to say, that there is no need to splurge … the rest of the choices were fabulous.
A trio of lamb all teased and tender, tempting my dining mates all to steal a bite from my plate served with buttered and grated cumin carrot and (almost) baby-food like mashed potatoes, could not have made a girl happier. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had Lamb or beef presented ‘3-ways’ on a plate only for it all to taste the same. This was like eating three very different pieces of meat and every bite so memorable I am dying to go back for the exact same dish again.
The Fish was no slouch either. Nestled atop a bed of oxtail stew and dressed with small bites of baby potatoes and carrots, the only complaint I heard was a pining for more of the oxtail. Plate licking might have occurred here were it not for our uber efficient waiter Stephen, who reminded me what it was like to experience a high level of 5-star service for the evening. We didn’t need a thing; carefully present but never annoying kind of service.
The Rib eye (sadly not on the bone) was also a huge hit as was the gluten free fish and chips. It is safe to say at this juncture that all portion sizes were perfect too. Nothing to big or small, enough side dishes/salads to sate us all.
By the time the tea arrived, in solid sterling silver service pots with fresh Assam tea leaves steeping, we were entering into a food coma. A few sugar addicts jumped on the dessert train and this is something you should save room for too. A GF hazlenut parfait, eaten so fast there is no photographic evidence of it, went down a treat, as did the above Rhubarb dessert. The pastry chef at the g hotel really does know how to make the end of a meal sing.
The next morning … whilst some laid on in bed for an extra snooze, I stole away to the eSpa for a bit of reflective time – just for me. I am so rarely left alone these days (with four kids, it is nigh impossible to have ‘me time’) so I treasured every second and might make this a regular stop on my ‘places to relax’ in Galway from now on.
The upstairs relaxation lounge is lovely, to be sure, but the hot stone loungers in the Thermal Spa suite, is where I was able to totally drift back into a second state of slumber … trust me y’all … don’t be waiting for a special occassion. Life is too short. This was a real treat.
By the time I meandered back downstairs for a lazy weekend brunch, I was delighted to see such a fabulous breakfast menu available to those of us that turn their noses up at the breakast buffets.
I mulled over my options, but as himself had already ordered off the menu I decided to chance my arm at the buffet and have to tell you, it might be the nicest breakfast buffet I have seen in an Irish hotel (save for the one at Gregans Castle). The only complaint I had here was that they were not bragging about the locality of their food. I already knew the Salmon was from Kinvara … but would have loved to see a little sign stating that.
Over the last two or three years I have declined so many invites to attend events at The G Hotel because it is difficult for me to stand (or sit) around pretending that the food is great when it is not. But these guys were persistent in their efforts and kept coming back to me inviting me in for this and that. Timing is sometimes very important. We were delighted to have had a very possitive experience and although there were a few things that we could call ‘a bump in the road’ we shared our thoughts (a long letter detailing all that was good and all that needed tweaking) with the management, who were delighted to get the feedback, we are confident that their new menu will attract a whole new line of local customers. The G Hotel is so much more than a special occassion place; It is a vibrant part of the dining scene in Galway.
Pauline Reilly, who has headed up their kitchens for the last few years has moved on to greener pastures, so now the g hotel have a new chef running the show. Paul McDonald, hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, has recently taken on the role as head chef at the g hotel. Paul has worked at many fine establishments, including his former role as Head Chef at ‘Wilde’ restaurant in the 5 star Westbury Hotel Dublin, where he worked alongside the hotels Executive Chef, Thomas Haughton.
At just 21 years of age, Paul received his first Michelin recognition, a Bib Gourmand, and that same year was appointed Head chef of Dublin based restaurant, ‘Bleu’. He then went onto work with some world renowned chefs including the UK based Aidan Byrne, the youngest chef in the world to receive a Michelin star.
As a highly motivated, ambitious and passionate chef, Paul’s philosophy is “I like to think outside the box with my food”. He is focused on continuing to build on the success of the g hotel while engaging with artisanal suppliers in order to source the freshest and best of locally produced foods. In the creative chef’s own words; “I want the g and Restaurant gigi’s to be at the very fore front from every perspective. Essentially, we aspire to design cutting edge dishes that will challenge peoples taste’s and culinary horizons. In addition, we are dedicated to building a reputation for presentation that will mark us as the standard bearer for everything 5 star not only provincially but nationally.”
And the winner is ……
Now, down to business and probably the part you have all been waiting for.
How would you fancy a two-night stay at the g hotel for yourself and your bedfellow? As they are slammed busy this season, the giveaway is restricted to mid-week nights but as with a lot of our other giveaways, I always suggest you add on a paid night or two and make a real holiday out of it. Staycation all the way guys n’ dolls. This is just a great way to breakaway to the West for a few days.
First, make sure you are a registered reader of our WiseWords blog … sign up right here and then answer these questions in the comment secion below:
1. Where is the G Hotel?
2. What is my husbands name?
3. Why do you want to come to Galway and stay at the G?
Play nicely guys n’ dolls … the winner will be chosen at random on July 4th, 2014.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
Couples who cook
By Móna Wise
These days, with the rates of divorce skyrocketing even in Ireland, it seems that the act of getting married is easy and staying married is posing to be a sometimes impossible challenge.
Why then, do some couples seem to make life even harder by foraying into the same line of work as their spouse? When looking up and down the coast of Galway and Mayo, it is easy to find several couples who have decided that wedded bliss is just not enough for them and they feel the need to flex their masochistic muscles by entering into a business contract with their bedfellows.
David Murphy and his wife Jess Margurte-Murphy are a perfect example of this. A little over 14 years ago, David, a Carlow native, headed down under to backpack his way around Australia for three or four months. He just wanted to have a bit of fun.
“Those plans all came to a crashing halt because I met Jess almost straight away” he laughed.
A clear cut case of love at first sight, he and his new love, Jess Margurte-Murphy a chef by trade from New Zealand, knew they were soul mates and moved in together within a few weeks of their first kiss.
An engineer by trade, David took a break from his career and showed interest in a job he saw advertised in a restaurant on an island off the west coast of Perth. “They were looking for couples to come out and work on the island for the summer months so Jess and I, along with an Irish couple from Mullingar, spent the summer working alongside each other in the kitchen, Jess as a chef and me as a kitchen porter.”
As with all summer jobs, the fun was short lived and David returned to his career as soon as summer break came to an end.
Although it was love at first sight for the duo now sharing a home together, David was still focused on his career in engineering and pursued that route having no problem finding employment but it did put a strain on their schedules. So how did this work out for the lovebirds?
“It was different I suppose. We were working entirely different schedules and only occasionally saw each other on a Sunday” said David. “All was not lost though, because you see I had time to focus on my love for Rugby and I invested in a paid subscription to Sky Sports.”
Jess chimed in with a loud laugh adding “Yes, it was like Sky saved our marriage really. We were like two ships passing in the night I mean, we still chatted a lot in the early days about me having a little café, but it was all pie in the sky kind of ideas at that stage. I wanted one of those tiny 40 seat cafés, where I could serve up gorgeous cakes, lovely fresh-from-the-farm salads, and in my mind it would be like having a load of friends around for supper every day.”
But this never happened in Australia or in even in Jess’s native New Zealand.
“The timing was not right for either of us. The idea of owning and operating our own business was too scary at the time and I suppose we just were not ready. I felt like I had a lot more to learn and David was focused on working as an engineer. In 2003 we decided to up sticks and move to Ireland. I had always wanted to get work experience in a Michelin Star restaurant. Back then (and still now) Kevin Thornton was doing amazing things with food in his kitchen and so we found ourselves one day dumped onto St. Stephens Green in Dublin, me with my knife kit and David with his toolbox.”
Although David carried on with his career in engineering, while Jess worked her one-year stint with Kevin Thornton in Dublin, the West was calling.
“It was an easy decision to move West really,” said David. “Although Jess had never been, I had spent several summer holidays in the west as a young boy and I knew it would be a great place to call home. The Bord Fáilte ads on the telly had us plagued. ‘Come to the West’ they’d scream at us each night on the telly, with images of the white sandy Connemara beaches beckoning. It was like being brainwashed really. I think even if it had been pictures of lashing rain and people drinking pints by the fire, we would have ended up in Galway.”
Jess took a job immediately in the Ard Bia kitchen and David with an engineering firm in Abbeyknockmoy.
Although the idea of still opening her own place was in the back of her mind, Jess knew she had to learn to walk before she ran and she kept her nose to the grindstone learning as much as she could while working for Ard Bia, then on to Sheridans Cheesemongers and eventually on to Bar 8 on the docks.
It might have been then, when working at Bar 8, when they both felt the tides turning so to speak. Jess was finding it more and more frustrating to not having control over the day-to-day operations and one day just packed it in knowing they were about to make another big change again.
Still, and before making the massive financial commitment a raging entrepreneurial spirit requires, with a bit of wanderlust lingering they toyed with the notion of moving to Denmark for a few years, but that notion dissolved pretty quickly when she heard that The Budding Cafe (Heenahans florist) was relocating and they were looking for a new tenant for that space on Sea Road, now known as Kai Café.
Citing the invaluable experience she had received working for Sheridan’s Cheesemongers alongside Galway’s first Michelin star chef Enda McEvoy (now getting ready to open his own restaurant called LOAM), Jess knew she was ready.
But was David? Would he not miss the world of engineering and a steady pay check?
“No. I love coming to work every day. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much to be honest. Jess had been rambling on about having her own place for so long that it just felt right for both of us. She was ready to go back to her roots and cook in the same style her grandmother taught her, pickling and preserving. Her time working alongside Enda McEvoy at Sheridans Cheesemongers gave her something I never thought she needed – confidence.”
“I’ve always been bossy I suppose; I’ve always been the boss” said Jess smirking, “I knew the time was right to move forward and do my own thing. Something was unleashed in me and it was time to put it to work. I always thought Dave and I would end up investing our own money in Bar 8 and when that did not happen, I just knew it was time for us to join forces and do our own thing. I could not believe I had first dibs on that little cafe. The good vibes from the whole deal made it a no-brainer for us.”
So, how does a couple go from leading polar opposite career paths to beautiful business bliss overnight?
“I stay out of the kitchen” chuckles Dave. “No, what I meant to say is I know the best times to go in to the kitchen. It’s a very small space and you need to have a purpose to be in there as there is just no room for standing around – it’s too easy to get in the way. I have my job and Jess has hers. We can manage to work a twelve or fourteen hour shift together but rarely speak to each other because I’m out front and she’s in the back doing her thing.”
“And we still chat about our day after service. Sometimes reviewing how dinner service ran or who was in for lunch that day” Jess chimes in. “and sometimes we work on different days just so we have a bit of ‘alone time’ at home by ourselves. Every couple needs breathing space, don’t they?”
“We keep it out of the kitchen” said Dave. “We know each others strengths and weaknesses all to well at this point and we just steer clear of each other. Neither of us hold grudges (Jess injects her infectious guffaw of laughter here) and we have mastered the art of keeping our dirty laundry out of the public eye.”
“We are fortunate to work with a few excellent people at Kai Café and they know our moods and understand it is normal. They keep out of our way and we just get on with the business at hand. Now that we have been open for three years it is easier. Home life is bliss, and we have all the right team players in place at Kai so it leaves little room for ructions these days. Now we are at the point where we set aside a little more time to pursue other dreams.”
Perhaps a second place maybe a bit of a gastro pub with restaurant style grub and lots more fermentation and loads of local beers on tap?
“Perhaps, perhaps,” said David. It is all possible isn’t it? Right now we are just going to continue to take care of our customers and employees and enjoy doing what we do. Taking care of people is a great honour and privilege and now we have found a way to build and maintain a solid footing in Galway, we are really just starting to enjoy the ride.
Thanks for reading …. I have a lot more pieces that will be popping up in this local newspaper over the course of the summer.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
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About the Chef
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You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.
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SHE WRITES, HE COOKS, THE KIDS MAKE A HUGE MESS