Although compact, the restaurant is warm and inviting with an unaffected but nonetheless decidedly ‘hip’ vibe about it. The décor consists of bare stonework juxtaposed against walls of wooden cladding which appears to be made from salvaged scaffolding boards. These eclectic qualities follow through to the menu, which although brief, has quirky and often adventurous elements within each dish. This is food rooted in what’s available locally in the West of Ireland but also influenced by the background of Head Chef Jess Murphy who is originally from New Zealand.
Staff are friendly, speak enthusiastically about the food on offer and are delighted to answer any questions about the menu, all of which adds to the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.
There is an air of vitality about the food, yet it is not too virtuous leaving you with that feeling of slight disappointment which you get when you have eaten food that you know is good for you but lacks the self-indulgence factor.
|McGeough's Air-Dried Ham|
From a choice of five starters, we chose:
- McGeough’s Air-Dried Ham + Sheep’s Cheese
- John Dory Crudo + Gin + Avocado
In many respects, both these dishes were assemblages of a selection of ingredients but where they really succeeded was in the quality of those ingredients and also the restraint that was shown in how they were treated and presented on the plate. This takes confidence and belief in what you are doing to achieve successfully and here it really worked. Tissue-like slices of air-dried ham in the style of an Italian Parma ham were served with equally paper-thin slices of pear and shavings of Knocklara sheep’s cheese. Everything was lightly drizzled with a barely sweet dressing which contrasted perfectly with the salty tang of the cheese and the underlying savoury tones of the ham. This was a simple dish but a real celebration of the excellent ingredients used.
Moving on to main courses we chose:
- Hake + Barley Tabbouleh + Blood Orange + Almond Aioli
- Brady’s Strip Steak + Café du Kai Butter
|Hake + Barley Tabbouleh|
Two pieces of perfectly cooked hake were presented on a bed of flavoursome pearl barley along with slices of blood orange. Further flavour was introduced by the inclusion of chopped fresh dill and jewel-like pomegranate seeds which added little bursts of exotic floral fruitiness which married so well with everything else on the plate. The almond aioli was subtly flavoured with garlic which didn’t compete with the almond flavours that were also present. This was a clever dish and although it borrowed much of its character from the food of the Middle-East, it was still, somehow, very much a dish of Galway and the West of Ireland.
Given the generous main courses we had just eaten, we were fearful that we would not be able for dessert, but thankfully decided that we could be tempted. We chose:
- 3FE Flat White + Hazel Biscotti
- Chocolate & Olive Oil Mousse +Toffee Popcorn
Coffee aficionados will be familiar with 3FE flat white coffee and here it formed the basis for a wonderful coffee ice-cream that was served with dark chocolate ‘bark’ and a hazelnut biscotti. This was a dessert, which despite its simplicity, did not disappoint. Chocolate and coffee is a classic flavour combination and here the contrast of textures between the cold velvety ice-cream, the chocolate and the crumbly biscuit were fabulous.
|3FE Flat White + Hazel Biscotti|
We washed everything down with a bottle of Domain de Lestang Bordeaux which we felt was reasonably priced at €28. Total cost for the meal, excluding the wine came to just under €110.
This was a memorable meal and restaurant worth visiting.
Kai Café + Restaurant
20 Sea Road, Galway
Tel: 091 526003
Café: Mon - Fri 9.30am - 4pm; Sat 10-30am - 4pm; Sun 12 noon - 4pm.
Restaurant: Tues - Sat 6.30pm - 10.30pm.
This review originally appeared in TheTaste.ie