When I set up this blog, I had intended to write about writing and science (fact or fiction, doesn’t really matter to me, they are both interesting), technology and of course random things.
One of the things I hadn’t expected to blog about was restaurants. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a site filled with glowing reports about the ambience, type of music the restaurant was playing at the time or how polite/impolite the waiters were.
But there is one place I think everybody should know about and that is The Hungry Bookworm, in Loughrea, Galway.
I was walking around the town one afternoon, trying not to get pulled into all the shops with their sales signs. I failed miserably when I passed a shoe shop. I bought two pairs of shoes. I am not a shopaholic, nor do I own thousands of glamorous shoes. Just had to have them!
A little further along, I spotted a sign for The Hungry Bookworm, Cafe, Wine and Tapas Bar. I was instantly intrigued. Two loves? Wine and Food. Liking the look of the place, I decided to book a table for that evening.
When I arrived, the two ladies who owned the shop, Angela and Alice immediately took me under their wing (I was dining alone, sometimes I like to do that) and gave me the cutest table for one. I was already loving the place.
The shelves around me were stacked high with books. One side was filled with kiddies books (It is a child-friendly place after all) the other with adult reads, from Grisham to Cussler, to everything else. There were so many titles to choose from you could stay there all day or night, but I’m pretty sure when it came to closing time, they would actually want you to leave their premises. But what if you had begun to read a really good book and you wanted to see whether the main character survived that cliff dive or if the man with the scar really was the uncle of that niece the main character thought he didn’t have? Guess what? You can buy them and at a really good price too.
The ladies told me that the books were mainly donated by locals and judging by the covers, they were all in fantastic condition. Even better, they informed me, all proceeds from books sales go directly to charity. No excuse to buy one then.
Onto the food. I watched with delight as the place got busier. I booked a table for 7.30 (a perfectly respectable time when one is dining alone) and watched as people came and went, others were turned away because there was no room for them and some who didn’t show up for pre-arranged bookings (not acceptable in any day or age).
I perused their menu of at least eight tapas (possibly more, I didn’t count) and prepared to dive into a culinary experience. Finally, after much deliberation, because I wanted to try everything, I began with their Mezze Plate (selection of dips and spreads and warm flatbread) and Spicy Thai Fish Cakes.
Look good don’t they? Well, what about taste? I often wondered what the judges in Masterchef felt when they tasted a really good dish. Now I know. Superb flavours coupled with a nice Australian Shiraz, well, needless to say I was in heaven.
Between courses, I got stuck into my book and when I finally felt as though I could manage another course, I went with the French Onion Tartlet. Scrumptious. I followed that with dessert, their Baked Black Cherry Cheesecake. Gorgeous.
I mentioned to Angela that there were few places like this where you felt as though you’d stepped back in time. At times it felt as if I was sitting in someone’s living room. Not a bad feeling when you think about all the best times you’ve had in other peoples’ houses.
I listened discreetly to the comments from the other diners.
‘Keep that one on the menu. It’s delicious.’
‘Do you do chips?’ to which Angela replied, ‘Its on the next menu.’ And I’m sure they’ll be no ordinary chips.
The evening menu changes every three months, (possibly the daytime cafe menu too which is posted on their wall and contains more yummy tapas items) so there is no excuse really to keep trying this place out. Alice informed me that people were travelling from Dublin to try this place. I hadn’t specifically travelled to do the same, but there is nothing stopping me from doing so in the future. After all, it is only two hours away.
If you Google ‘The Hungry Bookworm’ you will get many returns about people who enjoy reading and writing. It’s a popular name. To learn more about this place,you will need to check out their Facebook page and the way to find that is to include ‘Loughrea’ in your search. They already have 415 likes and Angela informed me they are only open a couple of months. Not bad. There are plenty of comments from other diners on their page, so you can make your own mind up.
Diners are always on the lookout for that something special and for me, this place has it in spades. More importantly, you’ll be left with change in your pocket.
Angela and Alice told me they decided to open a bookshop and tapas bar, after retiring from their full time jobs. It goes to show that the best ideas are usually the ones that come from the heart.