Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Matt makes the art of fine dining look easyMay 31, 2012 - 1:42pm
In a climate where businesses of all sizes are struggling to stay open and where many of them have been forced to close, it’s heartening to see one that is not only thriving but showing all signs of going from strength to strength.
Time and again, successful businesspeople cite the importance of attitude and job satisfaction as being a huge factor in that success.
One such man in Galway is Matt Skeffington, who owns Artisan Restaurant in Quay Street, which won an award for ‘Best Restaurant in Connacht’ at the recent Irish Restaurant Awards at a glittering ceremony in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel. That event , which celebrates top eateries and local food heroes, is regarded as the country’s biggest foodie events.
Artisan is now considered as one of the top four restaurants in the country which is not to be sniffed at but it is obvious that Matt and his staff aren’t going to rest on their laurels.
On Tuesday, Matt and his staff sat down to a very animated meeting – a regular occurrence though oddly not one you would associate with a restaurant.
Afterwards, they took part in a training session – in this case a wine tasting from supplier, James Miley.
Matt believes in hearing feedback and likes to encourage the staff – 14 of them – to listen to customers and notice likes, dislikes and any other observations.
He also appreciates good wine and likes to keep on top of wine drinking trends as well as the food trends.
“I like to eat in good restaurants in Dublin, London or Paris and take home new ideas. I would consider our menu to be made up of good French classics with an Irish contemporary twist. . . but more importantly, our food is mostly sourced locally.
“We only use sustainable fish through Gannet and we get a lot of our fresh produce from Green Earth Organics in Corrundulla, though sadly there’s only so much that we can source locally.
“There’s also a huge emphasis on seasonal food. For instance this summer our menu is lighter. The newly appointed chef, Mark Campbell, isn’t using any dairy at the moment which means the sauces are lighter.”
That means that the monkfish is served with a red pepper and balsamic reduction and the cod is served with wilted greens and smoked bacon broth. They are only two mouth-watering examples! Obviously in the Winter, the dishes are heartier to reflect the colder weather.
Matt was delighted to have been nominated for the Irish Restaurant Awards, which attracted no less than 6,000 nominations, and he is absolutely thrilled with Artisan’s win.
“The award came almost four years to the day of our opening here and that’s how long it takes a restaurant to get established so it was a timely win.”
Matt came to Galway 12 years ago. He didn’t arrive because of a job or a desire to live in a colourful, cultural city but because of a girl he met while working in Germany.
“It was she who had the job in Galway. I just tagged along. But then I got a job down this side of town and her job was off Eyre Square so we never saw each other and the relationship faded,” he says as if the two ends of the city were on opposite sides of the world.
But funnily, there is a bit of a divide between the two areas, like a 'them and us' though it is more competitive than antagonistic. The Latin Quarter has certainly made its mark and the oldest part of the city is quite distinctive because of its narrow streets and proximity to the Claddagh.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.