This attractive café-cum-bakery makes a good stopping off point for visitors to coastal Connemara situated, as it is on the Galway side of Spiddal village on the main road west. The craft and design centre features local artisans, some of whom work on site: potters, weavers and jewellery makers.
Builin Blasta - The Tasty Loaf, in Irish - is a simple café seating about forty at solid pine tables and chairs; breads, scones and cakes are homemade and the quality is excellent: multigrain loaf, focaccia, baguettes, muffins and scones are all gorgeously wholesome, alongside a range of tempting cakes and desserts.
There is talent in the kitchen and the familiar café fare of soup, sandwiches, pizzas, stews and desserts is far above the usual standard; the talent in question is the owner-chef, Heather Flaherty who, in 2015, took over from the enthusiastic young New Zealander J-me (Jamie) Peaker who had been running the café with infectious enthusiasm since 2009.
Heather, who is the former head chef at McCambridges and Chairperson of Galway Food Festival, brought a new following and some new dishes, but - except that J-me's trademark orange has been replaced with a cheerful blue - returning fans won't see too much obvious change.
Unsurprisingly, this little gem attracts a queue at lunchtime - but tables are turned over quite quickly, and there is a sense of everything being under control at this well-run business.
Although the menu appears to be made up mainly of familiar dishes (smoked salmon & scrambled egg, seafood chowder, chicken liver paté, toasties, goats cheese tart...), there are plenty of nice original touches - the chile con carne, for example, is served in an edible bread bowl. This, and the high standard of cooking - and pleasantly gentle and caring service by local girls - make for an experience that ensures plenty of returning customers.
For an enjoyable light lunch you might try a delicious warm smoked trout salad with potatoes, egg, chia seeds, and a honey mustard dressing (€7.50), and a hot strawberry and apple crumble (€4.50).
Vegetarian, vegan, paleo and gluten free options are woven through the very appealing menu, where local producers and suppliers are proudly credited.
A long list of beverages includes good coffee and pots of whole leaf tea, homemade lemonades and also a short list of wines by the bottle and glass (from €20/€5). Baking is a forte here, and Heather Flaherty's trademark no fuss cooking is perfectly in tune with the surroundings - which are enhanced by an ever-changing exhibition of work by local artists.
All round, it's just the kind of place that every visitor to Connemara hopes to happen on.