It is a really wet, windy and stormy evening in Galway city, as most evenings are in this beautiful town. I have not visited Galway city that often lately as my work engagements keep me busy elsewhere. Tonight however I am making my way to a gastronomical jewel on the west coast of Ireland, the Michelin Starred Restaurant, Loam. Awarded a Michelin star in 2016 and retained ever since.
With the promise of a fine dining Michelin feast ahead of us, my very dapper, handsome companion and I jog under the rain of the streets of Galway, as elegantly as we can, on our way to Loam.
We were greeted with a smile and warm welcome as soon as we walked in the door. After our giggling selves escape the rain a very calm and relaxed atmosphere with wonderful soft aromas in the air greets us. I can not hear music in the background or clashing dishes, it’s all very zen.
Loam has to be one of my favourite restaurant designs in the country. Spacious, warm, sophisticated and considered illuminated lighting. Beautiful art and plants perfectly placed throughout. An idyllic setting for an elegant evening meal with a special date to or to impress that someone special with your impeccable taste in restaurants. It reminds me of the old charming style of home in Latin America, sensual, elegant and sophisticated.
One of the top and most talented architects in the country, Juan Felix Sotoparra, is behind the beauty of this restaurant, the structure, style and interior designing. I can recognize some of his trademarks; the elegant lighting, the separation and smart use of space, some of his art and design on the walls.
“Loam was a project in which we needed to humanize a semi industrial basement, we wanted to retain some of the purity and honesty of the existing premises but softened by introducing live plants, in internal raised beds which grow under oversize lamp shades. The raised-beds/lamps units are used in turn as partitions to demarcated areas, providing intimacy and a soft ambient light. Everything is built with natural local materials with simplicity , honesty and integrity of execution.” By Juan F. Sotoparra.
You might say I’m biased, as the architect is a great friend of mine, but I have truly always admired his talent and work. Loam’s owner and Head Chef Enda McEvoy are very lucky to have a unique space and a stunning, modern designer restaurant.
Seated right next to the open theatre-style kitchen where we can see the chefs at work. We received our menus and recommendations on pairing wines by really attentive and polite staff. For me already a highlight of the evening; great manners never go unnoticed with me.
Amuse bouches are delivered by sous chef Conor Cockram, the right hand of Head Chef McEvoy. I love the interaction of chefs directly with the diners as they get to explain each dish. You can tell there is care and intensity in their work.
The beetroot and apple gel, was straight up that, sweet, fruity and clean, followed by the smoked mackerel tart; very delicate, crispy base with a perfectly creamy, smokey and salty fish filling. I could have had it as one of the main dishes, delicious! Then a type of cheese beignet, a good starting promise to the dishes to come.
This beauty above is the real start of our evening, “Oyster, Radish & Cultured Cream” an exquisite Dooncastle oyster served with a velvety cultured cream with horseradish, refreshing, delicate and keeping the oyster cool is a granita of cucumber, apple and kale, beautifully finished with trout roe on top and edible flowers. Everyone knows I am obsessed about oysters and this dish is one that will have me asking for more.
Following that, we had “Squid, Shiitake & Egg” Thinly sliced ribbons of squid noodles with delicately, diced shiitake mushrooms, slow cooked egg yolk and finished with a briny shiitake broth.
The “Sirloin, Onion & Bone Morrow“, a tartare of beef sirloin, deep and sweet black garlic emulsion, a creamy and airy caramelized onion puree, perfect crispy onions and finely grated bone marrow on top. To be honest I’m the kind of girl who likes her bone morrow deeply flavoured and caramelized. This last touch to finish the dish is definitely an acquired taste.
The above dish, is perfection on a plate to me. “Asparagus, Cod Roe & Nettle” Not only for it’s perfect beauty and impeccable presentation, but because of the perfectly cooked and sweet asparagus with a densely creamy and full body sheep’s cheese and nettle puree. The briny and delicious cod roe emulsion was superb, served with pretty spring leaves, and a flavorsome and fantastic clam & mussel broth, that I could drink on it’s own. This dish was warming and left me with a smile.
This following dish was the one that I was really looking forward to, perfectly in season in the springtime. “Lamb, Turnip & Pea” Tender and succulent Castlemine lamb with a flavoursome ramson puree, an exquisite fricassee of pea and lamb’s tongue, one of my favourite greens, mustard leaf, and what seems to be pickled radish and turnip greens. I only wished that there was a bit more lamb on the plate, it was divine.
The dessert courses came next. First, we had “Sheep’s Milk & Rhubarb” Poached rhubarb with aerated sheep’s curds, lovage oil and elderflower vinegar granita. All very light and delicate flavours. It felt more like a palate cleanser. The “Buckwheat, Miso & Apple“.
A perfect and nutty buckwheat mousse with wonderful molasses tones in the malt crumb, caramelised apple puree, nutty, crunchy and beautiful hazelnut praline, a surprisingly exquisite & briny miso ice cream and salted caramel. I don’t really have a sweet tooth but I absolutely enjoyed every bite of this last dish.
Loam Restaurant is a genuine gastronomical jewel for Galway and the west coast of Ireland, attracting diners from all over the world. a Michelin-starred restaurant and wine bar located just off Eyre Square in Galway city.
“Loam – meaning ‘rich, fertile soil’ – we focus on modern ambitious cooking rooted in tradition. Seasonally driven, we work very closely with local farmers and producers, many of whom are close friends, to get the products we need to reflect and capture the feeling and magic of the west of Ireland”
I know for a fact, that people all over the world fly here for a chance to get working and training in this Michelin starred kitchen. Many will give their right hand “literally” to get the opportunity to train here. I know it so well because I trained here as my first Michelin Starred restaurant experience. I missed the incredibly talented and hardworking chef Christine Walsh who at all times show me professionalism and kindness in my time in Loam.
If you are looking to have a taste of what excellent produce the farms on the west coast have to offer and the culinary talents of Head Chef Enda McEvoy along with the team at Loam are capable of producing, don’t hesitate to experience this unique restaurant. It stands proud in the charming city of Galway and it’s new, experimental and slightly Scandinavian influenced cuisine with pride using local and seasonal Irish produce.
My preferred dishes were, the Dooncastle Oyster, followed by the Asparagus, then Castlemine Lamb and with a perfect ending with Buckwheat, Miso & Apple.
2 course €45 / 3 course €55
7 course €78 / with wine pairing €119
9 course €99 / with wine pairing €159
Geata na Cathrach
091 569 727
REVIEW BY CHEF JEENY MALTESE