New Galway restaurant, Chez Azur, in an elegant upstairs room with stunning views out over the docks, is a quiet culinary oasis just a stones throw away from the buzz of Quay Street. At the top of the stairs are two lovely rooms with lots of character, a little casual with dark wood tables, comfortable chairs, and lots of light from windows looking out over the boats on the harbour. This was my second visit here since it's opening night back in March and it has developed quickly into a well run restaurant.
Head chef, Ian Daly is in charge of the kitchen, where the freshest available seafood direct from local sources feature on the menus, with daily specials as you would expect from a restaurant specializing in seafood. They have a well priced set à la carte dinner menu for €31.50.
Besides the fresh fish choices, you can enjoy starters such as goats cheese crostini or a chicken and chorizo salad, followed by main courses of rib eye steak, Irish farmyard chicken and a meltingly tender 24 hour pork belly. The kitchen manage mostly to pull off the delicate balancing act between classic French and modern Irish.
Having sipped some prosecco with some 'gal pals' at the launch of the lovely new look 'Il Folletto' (I know, it's a tough life, right?) the three of us strolled down and were quickly seated at one of the coveted window seats. A prawn, mint and petit pois starter, beautifully presented in a scallop shell with toasted sourdough bread and edible flower garnish set the standard for the evening. The Crab and Smoked Eel starter was light and flavorful and the Daily Mussel special equally good.
The mains were all beautifully presented in good size portions. Hake, Sole, Monkfish, the choice of fish was wonderful with an option to add prawns or scallops to any dish for an extra charge of about €5, an excellent idea for those with difficulty making up their minds. 'Sides' of potatoes, organic leaf salad and seasonal vegetables are all charged extra. Seasonality and local producers get credit here also.
To finish, attractive desserts include popular dishes such as Chocolate Truffle & Hazelnut, Passionfruit & Lemon Tartlet - and a very good wine list, with some quality wines by the glass, served correctly by the ever-so efficient and attentive staff.
For a seaside town we are somewhat lacking in restaurants specializing in seafood. Chef and proprietor Ken Stembridge is hugely likable and deserves to do well. Our outing here was very enjoyable, great atmosphere, good company and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. It's good to see Chez Azur quickly earning local support. And they have cocktails… what's not to like?
Chez Azur, 1 New Docks Road, Galway. Tel: (091) 564 477