If you were sitting at a table overlooking the Claddagh Basin, on the River Corrib, in the heart of Galway city, you could only be in Aoibheann McNamara's Ard Bia at Nimmo's Restaurant. And indeed, if you're a chef, could there be a better view out the window as you prepare the day's menu? The river rushes over the stones on one side and on the other you can see the Claddagh. Go through the Spanish Arch and on the right hand side, in a stone building that was originally a boathouse, you'll find Ard Bia at Nimmo's.
We love Ard Bia at Nimmo's restaurant for its casual dining experience, with food that really speaks to the heart of a person. An eye-catching dessert table at the entrance tells you what you are in for. Homemade everything, wholesome and hearty. A dresser of pretty mismatched china above it. A basket of freshly baked bread for sale. Here is a place where food is treated reverently, without pretentiousness. Cosy and comfortable are the seating areas here, at upper and lower level. Ground level is a nook and cranny space with some private booths to the rear. Higgeldy piggledy shelves around the service counter are laden with bowls of fruit and old wine boxes filled with service necessities. A chest of drawers in front holds jars of home-made preserves and jams. Catch the goings-on of the day. The comings and goings of other diners and suppliers, in and out with local produce. Upstairs is no less individual. Bright and fresh and pretty as a picture decor. With views of the water to lend wonderful light to proceedings.
Then there's the food. Daily specials menus are simple, clipped to old American bingo cards in some cases. A printed seasonal menu gives choices everyone loves. It's always seasonal. If you're stuck, staff are only too willing to help you choose. Knowledge of local foods at Ard Bia is astounding, making it the ideal place to eat fresh Galway produce. Enthusiasm leaks from every member of the team. You couldn't do the job here if it didn't. Ard Bia is run by people who love food, for people who love food. An all day brunch includes the Ard Bia Fry and Big Breakfast Sandwiches. At lunch, simple omelettes filled with seasonal ingredients, hunky sandwiches and homemade soup. More wholesome selections are in the Hot Lunch section. Plus the specials, as we said, on those funky bingo card clipboards.
Prices are budget conscious for daytime eating. In the evenings, style goes up several notches. The busy bustle of the day replaced by intimate chic. Starters, Mains and a Bit on the Side (veggie accompaniments) reflect the time of year. Expect fresh fish and shellfish from the Galway coast, local lamb, and game in season. And gorgeous desserts to follow, along with a proudly flagged all Irish cheeseboard. Wines are as carefully chosen as the ingredients for the menus. Tastings are held regularly to choose what goes best with what. Then there's the substantial list of Ard Bia drinks alternative to wine - freshly squeezed juices and non alcoholic health promoting blends. Badger and Dodo Coffees and Fairtrade Hot Chocolate. Fiery Ginger Beer and Sicilian Organic Lemonade. You'll struggle over this choice just as you did with the food menu.
Ard Bia at Nimmo's Restaurant, Galway, also caters for weddings - and in what a unique way. A themed Wedding Menu, Set Buffet Menu or Finger Food Menu offers plenty of choice at great value for money. This restaurant offers a complete package of casual daytime and evening dining and special celebratory occasions. Take it all home with you in the shape of the Ard Bia Cookbook. Recreate the dishes you loved the most. Remember Ard Bia and return.