For such a tiny village there is certainly no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out in Barna. Mulberry's for casual and family dining, O'Grady's for the seafood lovers and what is considered by many to be the ‘jewel in Barna's culinary crown’, West at The Twelve. West's outstanding contemporary regional cuisine and seamless service has earned much critical acclaim as has their extensive wine list. Here seasonal and local ingredients shine to deliver a superb fine dining experience.
This kitchen is confident enough to have a Chef's Table where the curious can sit and watch the nightly service unfold from a unique perspective, right in the middle of the action. If that doesn't appeal, the dining room itself is handsome and contemporary, dark and luxurious.
The service was also spot-on, very friendly and attentive. We were impressed by the knowledge of our servers about both the food and the wine. The bread couldn't be any fresher, made in their own in-house 'Pins Bakery' and accompanied by a choice of compound or plain butters.
When it came to wine, I took the easy option of having my wines chosen for each course, matched to the food for me by the very knowledgeable team. A restaurant with the title of best wine experience in Ireland was hardly going to get this one wrong, and I would highly recommend this option. Each glass was perfect for each course, little point in listing them, however, as their list is constantly evolving. Fergus O’Halloran, General Manager and a Sommelier of some note, is constantly sniffing out new wines from the four corners of the globe to add to the list, a nice feature especially for regular visitors.
A starter of a little pot of mussels from Killary Harbour was served with some lovely baby mussel fritters. A duck plate of confit parcels had a hidden treasure of foie gras inside and was served with an unusual hoi-sin and Guinness sauce.
Prices are a little lower than I would have expected from this level of service with the 'small plates' at €6.50 and €8.50 respectively and the lamb at €24.90 for a generous portion. I see that they are now open for a late Sunday Lunch from 3pm - this menu seems great value also and is well worth a look.
All in all the ambiance of the restaurant on a busy Friday, the quality of our meal and some of the best staff in Galway made for a perfect night out - sophisticated without being pretentious. I have been fortunate enough to have many great food experiences over the years, from a tasting menu in an art installation on the roof-tops of Paris, to sipping homemade organic cider in a smokey yurt in Dorset with Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall (Yes - I am foodaholic). Dining at the West certainly ranks as one of the memorable ones.