The prefix “it” is often responsible for causing a rush to a new restaurant or bakery – that shiitake miso butter, that oyster, that cabbage – to be followed by gushing Insta posts, as serious scoffers make their way. to the house of the last must-eat bite.
Add the squid toast to Éan in Galway to this list. Accompanied by an iced glass of Aphos Vinho Verde, the Michelin Guide, whose inspectors have toured Ireland and made a lot of noise on Twitter, called it “the combination of the week”.
It’s no surprise that they were watching Éan, as the people behind – Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle – are the owners of Loam, which landed a Michelin star in 2015, just 10 months after it opened, took home the top prize. Michelin of sustainability. in 2019, and its successor, the Michelin green star, last year. It’s pretty much the Michelin poster child for restaurants.
But it’s not McEvoy in the kitchen here, it’s Christine Walsh, a talented and low-key chef who worked at Waterford Castle, Chapter One, Tom Aikens and Noma, followed by three years at Loam, then Allta in Dublin, before to lead the team here.
Éan, which is a casual bakery and restaurant by day and a wine bar by night, is in the Druid Theater building, and there is a connecting door between the two premises. Exposed stone walls are the perfect backdrop for a large common wooden table to one side of the room; and shelves of organic and biodynamic wines, and wooden tables and chairs on the other. It is an industrial and refined atmosphere.
Leave room for dessert. The caramelized croissant is crushed and garnished with crisp caramel with a hint of bitterness, and is accompanied by a coffee and almond ice cream, garnished with toasted hazelnuts
Before going for the squid, I order the homemade sourdough, € 4.50, which usually serves as an effective litmus test for the future. It’s really good, quite sour, with an open texture and a knotty crust, and comes with what now seems like a prerequisite, whipped cultured butter. With a bowl of premium mixed olives, € 3.50, and a glass of Uivo Curtido Branco, € 40 a bottle, that’s exactly what I need to study the list of small plates and plan my control strategy.
There are 24 low-intervention wines from the best producers on the list here, many of which are imported by Enrico Fantasia from Grape Circus, and although there are only five below € 40, the mark-up is very reasonable. .
But back to the command strategy. The previous experience made me nervous when it comes to small plates. They can arrive in “no particular order,” a “chef” type convenience, pile up and chill when they all arrive together, and launch a sneak attack with a “small plates, big bill” shock.
So it’s a one-on-one approach my end, and the staff are totally cool with that. Then comes the squid toast, € 14, four triangles of toasted sourdough bread, sprinkled with a white miso emulsion – homemade miso of course – and sprinkled with gochujang flakes. Inside the crispy exterior is a flash mix of Irish squid, shio koji and ground dillisk, bringing smoky flavors of the sea, the warmth of chili and a hint of acidity. There is no need for the Aphos Vinho Verde for me, the Uivo works spectacularly with toast.
Cime di rapa tempura, € 9, the brassica for cruciferous enemies, has been coated with batter, fried until crisp and sprinkled with miso, heat and flavor build up like chilli, seeds of sesame and nori in togarashi spices. in. And the beef tartare, € 16, which is partially obscured by foamy horseradish scribbles, is incredibly delicious, the precisely minced meat combining with brackish diced Castelvetrano olives and a crunchy dehydrated onion.
Leave room for dessert. The caramelized croissant, € 7, has been crushed and topped with brittle caramel with a hint of bitterness, and is accompanied by a soft coffee and almond ice cream, topped with toasted hazelnuts. It’s a big dessert, you can easily share it, but we also ordered the blueberry cake which can be stored intelligently quite salty, with lemon verbena which adds spice.
There is nowhere like Éan in Ireland. It’s the perfect wine bar, where you can take your time, order at will and not feel rushed. Like Loam, sustainability is at the forefront, with confident and mature cooking. Another green star must surely be in the works for this restaurant, and with the quality and affordability on offer here, it just might get another Michelin combination of the week and land a Bib Gourmand as well.
Dinner for two with a bottle of wine was € 102.
The verdict: 9/10 Good food, wine, ambiance and prices
Installations: Smart, fluffy towels and fragrance diffuser
Music: Good soundtrack, great in the background
Food source: Northern gannets Fishmongers, meat from local farms, vegetables from Leaf and Root
Vegetarian options: Vegetarian and vegan options
Wheelchair access: The room is accessible but no accessible toilet