There’s nothing I love more than good, nutritious and healthy food, and at a recent Into The West Blogger Network (#itwbn) event, I got the chance to sample the menu at one of Shop Street’s newest restaurants, 56 Central.
‘Healthy is the new sexy’ was the motto when Gill Carroll set up 37 West two years ago. Located on Newcastle Road, the small restaurant prides itself in its range of healthy dishes, offering something different to Galway’s food scene.
Now, after experiencing success with 37 West, Gill has expanded to Galway City Centre, taking over Lynch’s Café and opening a new, larger restaurant: 56 Central.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to interview Gill Carroll for the Galway Independent, and she gave me plenty of information about her new restaurant.
“56 Central has more of a focus on slowing things down and reconnecting to food and life and people,” Gill explained to me at the time, and so far she’s connecting with plenty of people who have already flooded through her restaurant doors.
When Gill organised a tasting event for a group of local bloggers, she certainly connected with people in new ways. All night, bloggers were tweeting photos and comments about the food, the service, the art. We were delighted to get the chance to sample her menu, and to experience the amazing atmosphere of the restaurant itself.
The lovely Gill Carroll pouring us some delicious prosecco and elderflower cocktails. Photo: Jessica Thompson
Located in the heart of Galway, 56 Central is truly the most stylish restaurant in town. The space has been carefully designed by a team of local talents including Dan Gardener Original and Finbar 24/7 and of course Gill herself.
56 Central has become a breeding ground for successful entrepreneurs who come in to work on creative projects and soak up the energy of the art on the walls and the energy from the old Galway wall which holds up the central Processo bar.
As you enter 56 Central you will see a giant heart, which has two pumps. Each pump sends blood around our body – the blood line is represented by a continuous line around the building into all of the restaurant’s rooms of reflection:
1. The Garden – nature
2. The Site – food
3. The Art Room – Art & Culture
4. The Vault – people love & connection
All the crew wear t-shirts saying ‘Grateful’, because they are all so grateful to have 56 Central.
The beautiful display that greeted us when we arrived at 56 Central. Photo: Jessica Thompson
As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by Gill herself, who proceeded to pour the most delicious prosecco cocktails, which we all enjoyed while we met our fellow bloggers and chatted amongst ourselves before taking our seats.
Each place at the table was set with a small bottle of prosecco, a greeting card, a lollipop and a name tag with each individual blog written on it. Mine said ‘#Sin’, as I’m the editor of Sin Newspaper in NUI Galway.
Once we were seated, we enjoyed a range of delicious dishes. There’s a large focus on locally sourced produce in 56 Central, and everything on the menu, apart from the Ballymaloe relish, is sourced in Galway or other parts of the West of Ireland.
When I interviewed Gill a couple of months ago, she talked about the importance of supporting local producers and the local food industry. She feels that the last couple of years have seen a really good growth in the west, but “people are going back to basics” and trying new things and using fresh ingredients.
“I think it’s really important to support local producers because they’re the ones who are so close to you and they can give you something that’s so fresh and so unique as well,” Gill told me.
“We have a dish on the menu called The West and basically everything in it is from the West of Ireland. We have all the produce here; it’s just a matter of slipping them into your menu and allowing people to taste them, because you can instantly taste the difference between a baguette that’s made from 20 minutes away as opposed to it being frozen and mass-produced.
Colleran’s mince beef burger on Jeremy Les Petit Doucher mini brioche buns with ballymaloe relish. Delicious! Photo: Jessica Thompson
The food was delicious, and included:
Once we’d had our fill, Gill came around with beautiful cupcakes – one for each of us. She also offered takeaway cups so we could take the cupcakes home to enjoy the next day.
Delicious cupcakes for every blogger! Photo: Jessica Thompson
But aside from the fantastic, locally produced foods, Galway itself is a fantastic location to open up a business, Gill told me during our chat over the summer.
“Galway people are so excitable. They really want to help support new business and the love and support that we got for 56 was unbelievable. Everyone really got behind it and they were so excited about it,” she said.
“That’s a huge pro for me, because it makes it easier, and even when I set up 37 West it was quite different with the healthy food and everything, but they’re willing to try, and they’re willing to go out of their way to go somewhere different.”
We thoroughly enjoyed our night with Gill. The food is excellent, and I doubt there’s one blogger who gave it a bad review. I’ll certainly be going back – especially for that buttermilk chicken – delicious!
After our time with Gill and her staff, we had the pleasure of visiting Garavan’s Bar on Shop Street, where we tasted a range of whiskeys.
I’m not much of a whiskey-drinker, and whiskey generally tastes like whiskey to me. But I enjoyed the experience of taking a sip, then adding water and seeing how the flavours changed.
Some of the whiskey samples we were treated to at Garavan’s Bar. Photo: Jessica Thompson
Overall, we had a fantastic night. This is the first mini #itwbn event I’ve attended, but I found it so much easier to talk to people than I do at the larger meetings, because there are fewer people. Things are so much more intimate and I really enjoyed getting to know other bloggers.
Sadly, I missed the Retro Flame event, which was on last week, but I’m looking forward to the next big event or mini-mixer, whichever comes first.
My place at the table and a greeting card from Gill.
Delicious prosecco for every blogger.
Mini burgers, which went down a treat.
Patatas Bravas are always the first thing I order at a tapas bar. The ones at 56 Central are amazing.
Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.
The delicious display of desserts.