We all know the setting on a nice day in Galway City. The sun beating down, the soft hum of a busker's guitar providing a mellow backing track and hordes of people lying out on the grass by the Spanish Arch. Meanwhile, overlooking the scene is Ard Bia At Nimmos, a building which instantly catches the eye for its unusual, stone exterior standing over the Claddagh Basin.
Looking at it from the riverside, Ard Bia looks more like a restored castle than a restaurant and on one of my sporadic visits to Galway recently, I decided to see if the inside lived up to the intrigue of the outside and sample the food at one of the most recognisable buildings in the city.
After a bit of research, I found out that the restaurant is a local favourite among Galwegians which could only have been a good sign. I took my seat next to a quaint, rectangular window frame, with the sun bouncing off the River Corrib outside.
Stepping into Ard Bia, there's a real homely feel to the place. Comfy-looking throws line benches while a few long tables look very inviting for a group night out.
A couple of other sole diners enjoy books and newspapers in the laid-back surroundings as a friendly waiter hands me a menu.
There's a real seafood feel to the menu but since I don't often splash out for steak, I decided to treat myself to the ribeye with a few roasties. I wasn't disappointed.
After biding my time with a bottle of local beer, my dish arrived and it was as juicy and flavourful as I had hoped. The shallot butter complemented the meat perfectly and I'd come back for the roast potatoes alone.
On a relatively quiet Monday evening, a real sense of peace washes over as you look out the window at the sun slowly going down over the Claddagh. With the hustle and bustle of the Latin Quarter just about 300 metres away and groups of people gathered on the grass outside, Ard Bia is a quiet haven in which you can rest your weary legs and fill your belly. Although, I'd imagine it's a different story on a busy Friday or Saturday night.
I still had room for dessert and opted for the chocolate orange parfait with vanilla cream. Anyone would a bit of French would agree that "parfait" was the perfect adjective to describe it and it was just what the doctor ordered for the end of my dining experience.
By the time I left, the majority of people had made their way from the Spanish Arch leaving the area fairly quiet. Ard Bia At Nimmos is the perfect spot to enjoy a night out in Galway with great food. Not too close to the madness but not too far either, it's ideal for a family birthday or a bit of dinner with friends before hitting the nightlife.
Next time I'm wandering around the Spanish Arch, I'll know exactly where to go.