Sunday 19 November 2017

Eating Out: Paolo Tullio at The G in Galway

Restaurant Gigi's, which is boldly decorated in textiles and colours.
Restaurant Gigi's, which is boldly decorated in textiles and colours.
Paolo Tullio

Paolo Tullio

I know I've said it before, but I'm surprised by how much smaller our island has become since the advent of our motorways.

Almost everywhere – except for Kerry – can be reached in under three hours from Dublin. It was Galway this week, so I set off from Dalkey with Ms Kenny, got onto the Galway road, set the cruise control to 120km and sat back enjoying the passing countryside for the next two hours.

I love to visit Galway; love the feel of the place. It seems a good size; large enough to have all the good things of a city, but small enough that everything is easily to hand.

Of course we had to do the market, where the west's artisan producers ply their wares. We ended up with buffalo mozzarella from Toonsbridge and several bottles of olive oil. Which reminds me, I must persuade Ms Kenny that, in future, she should buy only what she's prepared to carry herself. I am not, repeat not, a sherpa. A further stop at a ceramics stall depleted the last of our cash.

We were staying in the G hotel, a place I like. You may know the interior was designed by Philip Treacy and he did a fine job, although you may not want to copy his decor for your home.

We began the evening in the bar by the main entrance of the G, where Keith McDonald was playing great music and singing as well. It was hard to tear ourselves away for dinner.

Some things have changed since the last time I was at the G. There's a brand new menu in its restaurant, which is called Restaurant gigi's, a clever enough name, I suppose. Like the rest of the hotel, the dining room is boldly decorated in textiles and colours. We got a table by the window that had a curved banquette on which we were both able to sit.

The menu comes on a large card and, in fact, there are four menus on it. There's the 'Treat' menu, which offers two courses for €21 or three for €25; the 'Delight' menu, that offers two courses for €29.50 or three for €36.50; the 'Indulge' menu, which offers four courses for €55 and lastly the 'Share' menu, which offers two people three courses for €99.

I'll describe these menus in a bit of detail, because I thought they all offered great value for money. The 'Treat' menu has three starters, three main courses and two desserts to choose from. Tomato and basil soup, Caesar salad and jumbo crayfish cocktail to start; medallions of pork, chicken curry and cod and chips for mains and lastly apple crumble or ice-creams for dessert. So for €21 you could have a crayfish cocktail followed by pork medallions with buttered kale, duck fat potatoes and mustard cream. Considering this is in the chicest dining room in Galway, that's really great value.

The 'Delight' menu offers two courses for €29.50 or three for €36.50. One of the main course choices is rib-eye steak with white onion, creamed potatoes and buttered broccoli, which you'll see on many menus priced at about €29. So you can have your rib-eye and a starter or a dessert for the same price many restaurants will sell you just the rib-eye.

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We knew that we'd never manage the four courses on offer from the €55 Indulge menu, so we turned our attention to the 'Share' menu. The choices for starters were a butcher's board, which was a charcuterie plate, a smoked seafood board, and a bites board which had confit duck leg spring rolls, chicken skewers, bruschetta with Bluebell Falls goats cheese and dipping sauces. We decided on the seafood board.

The main course choices were a seafood board, this time with fresh rather than smoked seafood, a dish called 'on the pig's back', which had belly of pork, roast pork fillet, black pudding and pancetta croquettes, Savoy cabbage, smoked bacon and apple sauce. Lastly there was a châteaubriand of Donald Russell beef.

I first came across the Donald Russell brand some years ago in Glasson's Fatted Calf. It's worth looking out for, as it's dry aged and grass fed – things you need for good beef. Apparently it's about to change name to John Stone Beef. Anyway, I persuaded Marian that we should share the châteaubriand for our main course.

The wine list is well put together, with 20 wines available by the bottle, carafe or glass and a decent choice for under €30, something that's becoming increasingly rare in Dublin. We ordered sparkling water and waited for the starter plate.

What arrived was a large platter of smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, smoked trout and a glass with a smoked haddock shot. A selection of bread and dips ensured that this starter dish filled us a lot more than we were expecting.

The Donald Russell châteaubriand was superb; tender, tasty and cooked perfectly rare. By the time we'd almost finished it, with the accompanying onion rings, Caesar salad, sautéed potatoes, rocket salad and green beans, we really couldn't eat another thing. Be warned: too much bread and dips means you'll miss out on dessert as we did. Tea and an espresso finished off this excellent meal and brought us a bill of €112.50. If you've ever been tempted to try the G but were worried about the possible cost, put aside your worries. You can eat well for €21.

 

Paolo Tullio's Verdict:

On a budget
Dine from the 'Treat' menu and spend as little as €21. Unlike many budget menus which have seriously 'budget' dishes, this menu has some good ones, like crayfish cocktail

On a blow out
Dine from the 'Treat' menu and spend as little as €21. Unlike many budget menus which have seriously 'budget' dishes, this menu has some good ones, like crayfish cocktail

High point
The superb châteaubriand

Low point
Having to look at the dessert trolley while being so full. I couldn't eat any of it.

 

The G, Wellpark, Galway City, Tel: 091 865 200

 

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