For me, it all started with a tuna sandwich. There was a time (pre-mortgage and pre-children) that I lived just round the corner from Anton’s and was as comfortable there as in my own dining room. Anton’s have been deservedly rewarded with many years of success on Father Griffin Road. Simple food and excellent value for money explains why they have so many regular customers, and have been part of their neighborhood’s life for so long. It is a mighty achievement for a modestly sized restaurant that is always busy and bustling. This little cafe is big on taste. The formula is simple and has lasted the test of time, unpretentious and uncomplicated cooking that has charmed their customers year after year.
The café has a pretty outdoor seating section, while inside the walls are painted a restful blue and often hung with local artists’ exhibitions. A lovely space with character and energy. The room always has an encouraging blend of bohemian types, students and suited and booted business people.
It’s long been a Galway favourite for a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes or granola with yoghurt. The emphasis is on fueling-up rather than frying-up. It is ever popular also for a mid-morning catch up over coffee and cake with scones, muffins and indulgent homemade desserts made fresh daily.
Anton’s specialises in wholesome yet scrumptious lunchtime food, with tasty, generous sandwiches and salads. A good sandwich always has to start with good bread, and the foccaccia and brown bread on the menu is certainly that, baked fresh in their own kitchen each morning and preservative-free. It fills up quickly for lunch, so sneak in early to be sure of getting a table. Failing that, all their lunchtime fare is available to take away.
The specials change daily and are listed on the blackboard. On a recent return visit I was sorely tempted to try the steak sandwich on foccaccia bread with horseradish cream cheese, or the cherry tomato and spinach fritatta. In the end we stuck to the mostly to the house menu, as I just had to have the famous ‘Red Hot Tuna’ – as good as I remembered it, made-to-order, fairly big and definitely delicious. There are about five salads available – ‘Smoked Chicken with Apricot & Pistachio Nuts’ or ‘Mozzarella, Avocado & Tomato with a Basil Oil’ – though it’s a tough call to pick one over another. My dining companion settled on a goats cheese salad, the cheese lightly pan-fried with a nutty cous-cous crust, one of the better salads I have tasted in the city. An amazing house dressing arrives in a ceramic pot to anoint your own dish with as much or as little as suits you, we of course have lots. There were also two orders of smoked bacon, avocado and tomato sandwiches with red onion marmalade which my other companions refused to share – surely a compliment in itself!
All sandwiches hot or cold are priced at a very reasonable €6.50 and salads are around the €9.50 mark. My companion accompanied her meal with the soup of the day, a bowl of smokey fish goodness with chunky pieces of salmon, hake and haddock at €5.50. It being January and with a nod to the traditional ‘new year health kick’ I tried a foaming glass of their freshly squeezed orange, pineapple and mint juice, clean tasting and zingy at €3.00.
Regretfully, we passed on the bakes, lovely and all as they looked. A gluten-free brownie, chocolate muffin, mixed berry and almond tartlets or banana bread were all available on the day we were there.
Last year, for the first time, Anton’s opened for an evening service, Thursday to Saturday evenings, serving a small but perfectly formed menu from 6pm – 9.30pm, with a selection of red and white wines. If I remember correctly there was crab, grapefruit and saffron aioli, a cheese and meat platter with blue cheese, bacon and chives scones, rib eye steak with fries amongst other dishes. The good news is Anton’s is re-opening again this year for dinner on February 14th, soon there will be even more hours in the day to enjoy a meal there.
Anton’s manages to be homely, comforting and cute with considerable style. If you are looking to find a new place to eat, look no further. They only danger is that you’ll end up like all of the other regulars – making a habit of it.