Jp McMahon and the team at Eat run one of Galway’s most highly regarded restaurants Aniar - and the fact that they operate the food service here guarantees Massimo's status as one of Galway city’s leading gastropubs.
Already well known for good music, it is a large pub and - paving the way for this exciting food development - has recently been refurbished to a high standard.
It’s a pleasant and welcoming place to be. The front section has an open fire (always a good sign), cosy cubicles which make it private for small groups, and interesting side lighting - and (another good sign) it is popular with locals, especially for lunch and Sunday brunch.
The menu features pub food that stands out for its flair and commitment to showcasing local and speciality Irish foods, albeit with international interpretation, and around fifteen respected suppliers are listed on the back of the menu.
Gourmet pizza (about €13.50), for example, may bring together St. Tola goats' cheese from Co Clare, local herb pesto, cherry tomato, roast beetroot, along with their own tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Sandwiches (about €8.50) are served with pickles and local leaves, and could include Connemara smoked salmon, Killybeg cream cheese, and rocket pesto, while unusual salads (about €9.50) may include grilled organic Jerusalem artichoke with black olives, caramelised onion and are served with local leaves and rye bread.
‘Big eats’ may be stout & beef burger, smoked Gubbeen cheese, their own ketchup & thin cut chips (c. €11.50); or Spanish cider-battered ling, with thin-cut chips, lemon mayonnaise & leaves; at about €13.50 this is a nice modern take on a popular dish and makes good use of an under used fish. Another five equally interesting choices are offered, and also specials on a blackboard each night.
An enjoyable evening meal might begin with potted crab, pickled cucumber, lemon mayonnaise and local leaves - a delicious starter, served daintily in a little kilner jar on a small wooden board. For mains, you might try wild pigeon with chickpeas, bacon, spinach, hazelnuts - great flavours here, although the pigeon is served rare and diners would need to remember that wild birds have a more muscular texture than farmed ones...
Like the cider-battered ling ‘Big eat’, some choices among the seven ‘Sweet eats’ - such as a densely tasty Pedro Ximenez sherry & raisin pudding, served with both butterscotch sauce and cream - are a reminder of Jp McMahon’s love affair with Spain.
A menu for the kids has the usual sausage and chips and pizzas, but you may be sure that it will be far from ‘the usual’ when it comes to quality.
Another great experience from this talented team.