Follow the smell of fresh brewed coffee and across the carpark from Supervalu in Tuam and you will find Damien Cosgrove's atmospheric café, Leaf and Bean.
As the good people of the town sleep soundly in their beds, Damien and the team at Leaf and Bean are hard at work to ready the shop for opening at 8am, when breakfast is available to eat in or for take away.
The coffee, served in robust glassware, is reputed to be the best in town and there is a short but well considered hot food menu and friendly, efficient table service. The menu is presented on clipboards and breakfasts range from simple homemade brown bread served with jam and butter or nut butter priced at €1.95 up to their own twist on a classic Irish fry at €7.50. Organic porridge with a variety of toppings, buckwheat granola, buttermilk pancakes and a range of poached egg and omelette dishes are also on offer. Smoothies and protein shakes complete the pre noon offering.
After midday choose from salads and sandwiches with daily specials for variety. Freshly made, inventive soups such as orzo and broth top the lunch menu, no dreary cream of veg here. Sandwiches can include black bean quesadilla or falafel wrap priced around €7 while salads are around €8 and could be spinach, haloumi and chorizo, or Asian sprouted bean salad.
Lunch specials include chicken and vegetable skewers with wild mushroom sauce, Vietnamese tofu coconut curry or chorizo baked beans with eggs, all served with their various slaws, salads or flatbreads.
All of the bakes and scones are made in their own small kitchen. Sweet treats range from the virtuous, such as sugar-free raw date and coconut energy balls, to the purely indulgent Malteser or carrot cake. Scones range from chocolate and almond to blueberry with fresh cream and berries. There are not too many frills and fancies to speak of, just really good café food made fresh daily in the back – sold with a smile at the front.
Leaf and Bean are about delivering healthy natural food and great coffee in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. All the eggs are free range and they use direct trade coffee and organic produce wherever possible, remarkable then to note that nothing on the menu creeps much over the €8 mark.
This is the kind of place where members of the triathlon team load up on protein shakes, young families take a break from shopping over fluffy pancakes and baby-chinos and works from local artists are exhibited on the walls.
Leaf and Bean endeavour to use local Irish suppliers and source ingredients of high quality and freshness, such as Lizzy's Homemade Jam made in nearby Caherlistrane or Galway Goat Farm cheese from neighbouring Dunmore. In return the locals in town and the surrounding areas were quick to support the fledgling new business when it opened in September 2016, and this rustic café quickly became a popular meeting place and part of the community.