Tucked away behind the bus station, Loam is in a disappointingly unprepossessing part of Galway, which is quite an achievement in itself
- there is plenty of prepossession to be had there.
Such as in the narrow cobbled part of old town down near the river which hosts
Michelin (single) starred restaurant.
Inside, though, Loam is more dramatic - spacious and airy. Though perhaps a little impersonal
(the styling has been described as industrial
) it does offer unimpeded views into the kitchen.
Which I have to say was altogether disappointingly calm and ordered - I was hoping for at least a little drama.
Apart from its genuinely inspirational food, combining traditional cooking and flavours (Loam specialises in local ingredients from the West of Ireland)
with touches of modern gastronomy in their scattered foams and gels, their sommelier Niall Flynn is an absolute genius.
I've eaten a lot
of paired tasting menus and never really considered the wine matches to be much more than a harmless affectation
but Niall's talent for finding just the right wine to genuinely complement each dish (particularly the blood porridge
was quite eye-opening - a true delight.
The chef and owner Enda McEvoy was patient with my never-ending stream of culinary questions - and thanks also to my knowledgable waiter Cesare
- though of course I'd have to say that, since he was assigned by our mutual friend Aline to look after me during my Galway stay.
With barely a duff note in their entire 9-course tasting menu I highly recommend Loam - it lived up to its Michelin star with ease.
Are they Amuse-Bouches, Amuses-Bouche or Amuses-Bouches? Are we amusing many mouths, providing many amusements, or merely conjugating adjectives?
Linguistic ontology and
a dinner - only in Ireland.
Or possibly France.
The prettiest of the amuses!
Designed to be eaten by brushing up the yoghurt using the herb bundle.
My least favourite amuse - I was hoping the profiterole might have some crispy aspects, but it was disappointingly squishy.
Much like a profiterole, in fact ;)
Thinly sliced celeriac is dusted with a barley malt, rolled into tuiles and deep-fried,
after which they are held in a dehumidifier to prevent them from softening
(If only I'd thought of that!)
A mixture of Cois na Tire sheep cheese, egg and cream is blended in a Thermomixer, then foamed and injected into the tuile before serving.
Oysters with a cucumber and radish granita dressed with nasturtium jus and a little cream served on lambs lettuce and nasturtium flowers.
Sauvignon Blanc 'Lombeline' 2018 Emile Balland
A white wine from The Languedoc region of southern France French Sauvignon blanc tasting distinctly of tomato leaves (!)
A squid pasta is served hiding a creamy egg yolk in a bowl of rich broth made from roast shiitake mushrooms seasoned with kombu and smoked fish.
The pasta is made by scraping away the squid's membrane
(probably to prevent this kind of extreme curling
freezing it, then slicing thinly and seasoning with sea lettuce.
Riesling 2017 Wagner Stempel
A fruity south-west German white wine from the Rheinhessen along the left bank of the Rhine.
Steak tartare with a black garlic gel, pickled onion, an acidic mushroom broth, and covered with a grating of pressed blue cheese.
I neglected to ask which cheese, sorry, but it may well have been Crozier blue - from Cashel in County Tipperary.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 'Le Salare' 2016 Barba
Our first red - a light and red berry number from central Italy.
A genius combination, which I hadn't come across before.
Though I've since seen re-iterated by Nigel Slater in
and even tried out for myself
Here the mussels are tucked into the leaves of a charred hunk of spring cabbage,
alongside some fish eggs that might be a Sardinian bottarga
made from pressed cured grey mullet roe.
The dish is served with smoked hollandaise sauce and a drizzle of dill oil.
Arinto/Bical 2017 Filipa Pato
A clean, citrusy white wine from northern Portugal made of arinto and bical grapes.
Looking rather like a bowl of breakfast cereal, a layer of puffed buckwheat conceals the creamy bone marrow and rich chicken custard beneath.
Loureiro 'Vinho Verde' 2016 Aphros
A floral white wine with a hint of effervescence from northern Portugal.
It seems verbena is very
green! At least in this reduced sauce form.
The monkfish, spinach leaf and broccoli sprig are dressed with mussel foam.
It's a clean delicate dish, and the flavours are delightfully complementary, though no-one could describe it as substantial.
Chardonnay 'Beaujolais Villages' 2017 Domaine des Nugues
A classic green fruit chardonnay from the Domaine des Nugues winery in the northern Beaujolais district - bordering on the Fleurie cru.
Absolutely gorgeous. A slice of pigeon, chunk of beetroot, radicchio leaf and a scattering of redcurrants
are served with a blood porridge made with rye flour thickened in a Thermomix at 60°C.
Isabella 'a Proibida' 2016 Azores Wine Company
An unusual and fascinating deep, rich red wine from the volcanic island of Pico in the Azores,
summoning genuinely meaty flavours which pair astonishingly well with the blood porridge.
A particularly inspired match from Niall Flynn.
Does it look like an alien to you? Possibly a strange undersea creature?
It has all the red flavours. And all the textures.
You've heard of carrot cake, well this dessert is carrot everything-but-the-cake.
Apparently Loam has something of a hard-on for candied vegetable desserts.
Here a barley granola is beautifully sweetened with a carrot jam and topped with ice cream.
Garnatxa Ónra Vi de Pedra Solera NV Lagravera
A honeyed floral Catalonian dessert wine drawn from white grenache grapes.
Another perfect match.