Brasserie on the Corner has just celebrated it’s first year in business, and it is going from strength to strength. It is run by the people behind the really popular Dail Bar and The Front Door, and Tom Sheridan’s in Knocknacarra. The Brasserie a very stylish restaurant with a bar, rather than a gastro pub of any sort, and the décor and service belong firmly in the dining category.
Paolo reviewed it on opening and Gerard ate here on the dot of the year; here are the two reviews, Paolo first;
I was in Galway this week and I can confirm that this general rise in standards continues. This time I went to eat in The Brasserie on the Corner with Jayne O’Toole, an enthusiastic supporter of Galway Gastronomy.
The Brasserie is very nicely decorated inside. The original building has been completely rebuilt; even the brick arches that divide the dining room-which look as if they have been there forever- are new.
As you walk in, there’s a long bar counter with padded stools, and beyond that there are the dining areas. The tables are topped with thick, shiny wood, the chairs are deeply upholstered and comfortable, and the table settings are comprised of good cutlery and glassware.
The whole effect is pleasing and gives an air of easy comfort.
There was a Pre Theatre menu, which offered two courses for €19.95 or three for €23.95, and an a la carte.
It was a dish on the a la carte that hooked me. A caller on the ”Moncrieff” show had told me that I should taste the black-pudding mash, saying it was the best. When I saw it as the accompaniment to the roast hake, I knew I had to have it.
Jayne decided on just the one course, the fried sesame tofu salad, as she’s a vegetarian. There was a special on the day of homemade Gravalax, made with Clare Island organic salmon, so I decided to start with that and follow it with the hake and black pudding mash.
The wine list had about 40 wines, and I liked the pricing structure. You could spend up to €50, but the vast majority of the listed wines were in the €20-€30 range, which in my opinion is how it ought to be.
Since we were only having a glass of wine each, we decided to push the boat out and go for one of the more expensive whites, a Gruner Veltliner from Austria called Hopler, priced at €35 a bottle.
My starter arrived beautifully presented. The slices of Gravalax were served on a slate with finely sliced radish, long-tailed capers and, interestingly, pickled lemon rind, which gave a citrus hint to the Gravalax.
If you’re interested, Gravalax got its name from 2 Scandinavian words Grav, which means grave and Lax which means Salmon. So it translates as ‘buried Salmon’, which refers to the old Norse method of preparation-salting then burying in sand and the high tide line.
I was just as impressed with the main courses. When Jayne had ordered the tofu, I thought to myself, ‘How could she? Tasteless stuff’.
Then she offered me a taste, and I felt obliged to give it a go.
I’m glad I did; the little cubes of tofu had been fried and tossed in sesame seeds, which gave them a delicate flavour that I liked a lot.
Thinly sliced radish, courgette and carrot marinated in ginger and soy sauce came mixed with the tofu cubes.
I’m coming to the conclusion that tofu, like many other foods, is a base rather than a delight itself. It needs to be flavoured, and this was one of the better ways.
I got a fine piece of hake served on a bed of black pudding mash. The black pudding was named on the menu as coming from Mc Geoughs of Oughterard and, indeed, mashed potato with black pudding stirred through it makes a very fine dish.
As well as the hake and mash, I had a scattering of Renvyle mussels in buerre Blanc.
Turns out our chef, Joe Flaherty, is from Renvyle and learned his trade working with Tim O Sullivan in Renvyle House, so Renvyle mussels are homage to his roots.
What we had so far was very good food, so I felt obliged to eat a dessert. Once again a dish leapt of the menu: I ordered the peanut parfait.
When it came, I had chocolate ice cream, butterscotch sauce and around the edge of the plate, homemade honey crisp. Each and every part of this dessert was delicious.
The quality of the cooking in the Brasserie is far higher than you would guess from either your surroundings or the price. It is a big step up from what is usually called Brasserie food.
Even better it’s easy on the pocket. Our bill came to €68.85.
Now Gerard one year on;
Brasserie looks as brand spanking new as it did on day one, pretty good going since it has been rammers since opening. The same team is in place and manager Eimear has expanded the wine list, and brought the team together into a really cohesive unit.
On the night I ate, it was a set menu for customers and writers and brought together some of the most popular dishes on the menu. I stated with air dried Connemara lamb from James McGeogh out in Oughterard. Simply served with Carpaccio of beetroot and honey whipped Goat’s cheese, it showed off the quality of the ingredients and was nicely balanced and light, in this sweltering summer of 2013. If you are reading this in the winter, chances are the summer of 2013 is s distant memory, but we will be referencing it for years to come!
Next up was scallops with carrot puree and a seaweed tuille, which added crunch and texture to the sublime scallops. Main courses were fillet of beef or Irish west coast turbot. I had the turbot, which again was beautifully presented and perfectly cooked, accompanied with poached asparagus and little prawn croquettes. My guest had the fillet of beef, a heartier dish, served perfectly pink sitting on smoked bacon mash and with an oxtail tortellini.
Dessert was almost the highlight, and it’s rare I say that, but the chocolate, strawberry and honeycomb plate was a triumph.
The courses were paired with wines from Cassidy’s and perfectly matched the food, the highlight for me being the Californian chardonnay; big and deep it was a perfect example of its type.
Brasserie is serving stonking food with some aplomb, it is certainly one of Galway’s better restaurant, and if you haven’t been, beat a path immediately.