Restaurants or cafes that accompany the secondary space of a primary function like a gallery or theatre can frequently be very hit or miss. Bar some notable exceptions, and there certainly are some in Ireland, they are presented often with a feeling of the perfunctory, providing purpose rather than personality, and ticking the box where people will pay for overpriced mediocre coffee and wholesale scones. We do it, it’s fine, we’re hungry, and quite frankly it’s just easier but it’s most certainly not inspiring. The Pálás Arthouse cinema was one of the longest running sagas to hit Galway, confusion over whether the shell of a building would ever be completed or not. Finish it finally did and along with it a restaurant of calibre to accompany the silver screens, and most certainly belonging in the “notable exceptions” category I just mentioned.
Serving lunch and dinner, and brunch at the weekends, Eat and Drink at the Pálás has slowly emerged as a very real contender for the moniker of hidden gem of Galway’s culinary scene. The dining space is contemporary in keeping with the rest of the building but comfortable and inviting with marble topped tables adorned by seasonal posies. In terms of the menu, the dinner menu is compact, 3 small plates (starters) all priced €5.50, 3 plates (mains) at €15, and sweet plates (desserts) available at €6 each, alongside platters of cheese, meat, or a combination of both for €10. Daily specials also extend the choices to be found on offer. I’ve eaten here on a number of occasions in the past few months for both brunch and dinner and each time I have been impressed by the quality of produce and cooking but also by the value for money that’s on offer here. Quite simply this is excellent food at fantastic prices. Teamed with the bar upstairs (Drink), chef Liga Jarovoja in charge of the Eat element has created a menu with dishes that are understated only in their simplicity. Some examples of this include main plates of monkfish with roasted fennel and a saffron broth, feeling current with echoes of summer and the warming glow of autumn fare, slow cooked beef brisket with spiced cabbage is rich, unctuous, and comfort food at its best. In the menu it usually offers a meat, fish, and vegetarian/vegan dish and in recent times, being the cauliflower fan that I am, I was of course enamoured by a dish of the brassica, charred and coming with it the hint of bitterness, earthiness and deliciousness that you would expect. Currently a dish of roast squash, puffed rice, sage, and kale finds itself on the menu in what sounds like autumn on a plate.
For sweet, prunes, found on established and popular Dublin eatery Etto’s menu and at times in Galway in Kai, are an ingredient not often enough seen on menus. Not unlike Etto where they come in red wine, here they are presented simply soaked in Buckfast and served with mascarpone. I cannot understate how delicious this dish is. Sometimes dishes just stick with you. The chocolate, popped corn, and caramel is as decedent and yet fun as it sounds. All desserts are incredible value at €6 a pop.
Brunch is another more than viable, outside the Westend box option, offering everything from Kelly’s black pudding with poached eggs to cinnamon apple toast. Weekly specials again offer more choice with highlights including banoffee waffles which attained the sweeter of ours sweet inclined tastebuds, with €7.50 being the more than acceptable damage. EAT at the Pálás deserves serious attention and recognition as a food destination in its own right and not “just” the restaurant attached to a funky cinema. Go before it no longer remains “hidden”.
15 Lower Merchant’s Road, Galway
Phone: (091) 394800
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