Aniar Restaurant on Dominic Street, Galway was awarded a Michelin Star in 2012. I had visited it twice prior to the award and last week visited it for the first time since it acquired the star. I really enjoyed my first visit. My starter of Pork Cheek was truly sublime and was certainly the best dish I have had at Aniar. That first visit I had Slip Sole for Main Course and a parfait for dessert. All in all, I left after that visit enthusing about the place.
The second visit was also enjoyable though I though I chose badly for my starter, a chicken liver parfait – not something I would usually pick – it wasn’t to my taste though it was well executed. My Duck main and another parfait for dessert were very nice. Although not enthusing as much as I had following my first visit, I left looking forward to returning again.
And now to my latest visit. I was really looking forward to seeing the impact of the Michelin Star and what that had meant for the restaurant. I also wondered if the comfort level of the restaurant had been upped in terms of seating or flooring etc. On arrival, everything looked the same as before and we waited in anticipation for the menu.
The menu was more limited than it had been in recent visits although there was a tasting menu which had to be had by the table as a whole. There were only three choices on the a la carte menu for starter, main and dessert. We ordered glasses of Prosecco Brut Rose and chose a wine – a French Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine region- from a well thought out wine list.
I chose the Duck Heart salad for starter and my dining companion the scallop with pork belly. The starters were good but did not match the quality of what I had on my first visit. For main course, I had the Lamb Loin and my friend, the Pork Neck. The mains are served with a side order of baby potatoes. Both main courses were good, however the food was lukewarm at best when it arrived at the table. Desserts of Buttermilk Pannacotta and Pear with Sheep’s yogurt were fine but we didn’t finish the accompaniments.
In truth, what disappointed me about this visit to Aniar was not the food, although the mains should have been hotter. The main disappointment was the small things that I would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant. A 20 minute wait for a wine cooler. Our server not knowing which of us ordered what dish. The failure to clear a table close to us of dirty dishes once that party had left. These are things that would not bother me in most restaurants but I expect more from Michelin starred restaurant.
I also hear that the Chef is finishing up at the end of this month (March 2013). No doubt interesting times ahead for Aniar.
Postscript (Jan 2014): I have yet to revisit Aniar since the new Head Chef (Ultan Cooke) has taken over but reviews of the restaurant since his arrival have been consistently good so I am looking forward to returning soon.