Already well known for their popular Galway patisseries/delis, Fintan and Michelle Hyland have also owned and managed the Gourmet Tart Co. restaurant opposite the church in Salthill since 2010. Head chef is Damien O'Malley, well known in the Galway area for his imaginative and deliciously seasonal cooking.
As well as an all-day cake and bread shop at the entrance, the restaurant – which is a day-long operation serving breakfast, lunch and dinner - has an open-air pavement café in summer.
In a starkly minimalist room – bare white walls and tables, dark wooden floor, black cushionless chairs, plain cutlery and glassware, paper napkins - the emphasis is clearly on the food, which is very good indeed and, for the most part, locally sourced.
An all-day breakfast menu combining high quality with great value is offered from 7.30am; lunch is based on soups, cakes and sandwiches, all homemade and keenly priced; an à la carte dinner offers imaginative options.
This Galway Restaurants menus are commendably seasonal, but starters might typically include Chicken, apple and black pudding sausage, Barbecued smoked salmon, Wild mushroom risotto, Potato gnocchi, and an interesting dish of Rossaveal crab, served with chorizo aioli, mussels and sourdough toast.
A sorbet of the day may be an unexpected high point of the meal - an outstanding mango, perhaps, unctuous and yet sharply refreshing.
Typical main courses range from Chicken supreme with champ to Sea Bass with herb salad; Beef fillet with fries and a choice of peppercorn sauce, garlic butter or béarnaise and a vegetarian dish of Stuffed Aubergine with pine nuts, herb crust and green salad.
Pork fillet might come with Serrano ham, cabbage lentils and mustard sauce; Duck breast with barley pilaf and sour cherry jus; or Ocean Trout , with almond & orzo salad, caper butter. All display imagination and technical know-how; sauces are excellent as are original flourishes such as almond and orzo salad and barley pilaf.
One would expect desserts of high standard in such an establishment and so it is with the likes of Apple Tart Fine, Sticky Toffee pudding, and Passion Fruit cheesecake and their accompaniments of rich homemade ice creams.
Service is well organised and the staff are eager to please - and you may expect very good coffee and tea to round off your meal.
As with the décor the wine list is pared to a minimum. Although some diners may feel that the ambience could be improved, the cooking and service here out-perform many more expensive restaurants and is probably the best value in town.
Also at: 7 Abbeygate Street Lower, Galway City; Raven Terrace, Claddagh (opposite Fire Station) Galway City; Galway Shopping Centre (next to Tesco), Headford Road, Galway. Times vary slightly. They attend Galway Farmers' Market (Sat) and Limerick Milk Market (Sat), and there is also a Gourmet Tart Co restaurant at Salthill.