Features

Galway’s Mr Falafel Comes of Age

The original plant-based eatery in Galway celebrates the turning of the tide. Early in 2005 on a market stall in Galway, homemade falafel was the offering, the first of its kind in the west of Ireland. Now 15 years later, plant-based foods have never been as current or popular. However on a wet Saturday trading in Galway, The Gourmet Offensive in its infancy could hardly have written the script for its success.

The Gourmet Offensive started trading at the St Nicholas’ Market in 2005 with the falafel stall, and expanded to trade nationally at many of Ireland’s largest music festivals.  On 23rd November 2015 they moved to their fixed home at 11 Mary Street, still bringing their plant-based magic to the Galway market every Saturday.

The restaurant is a vegetarian fast-food concept that has many vegan options made with locally sourced ingredients. The plan is to re-establish their farm in the near future to supply the restaurant and market stall with fresh, organic veggies.

Food at The Gourmet Offensive is all about homemade falafel, their range of pickled vegetables, salads, and vegan sauces. The home cut and cooked chips on Mary Street have become something of legend throughout Ireland, as they have been the offered at some of Ireland’s leading festivals and outdoor events like Electric picnic and the Father Ted Fest.

“The chips are twice fried in sunflower oil, that’s our little trick, and we have had people coming to Galway after festivals just to get a hit of the chips, it’s brilliant really,” smiled owner Floris Wagemakers – known as Flo in Galway.

In their ever-expanding quest to become more and more sustainable, the latest project involves making their own tofu. Flo felt the quality of the tofu available wasn’t up to scratch, and as soya is always the cause for much controversy in a plant-based diet, they decided to do it themselves with organically sourced soya beans from Europe. They now also make their own soya milk and veganaise, as well as finding many interesting uses for okara, a by-product of soya milk production.

Food sourcing is paramount at The Gourmet Offensive, with all of their chickpeas and pulses sourced organically to ensure the highest standards. Salads are sourced locally from various small farms. They pride themselves in providing a healthy, plant-based meal that does not cost the earth in more ways than one.

It is really all about vegetarian and vegan food prepared with ethics and care. They have built up strong relationships with local farmers over the past decade, most of their herbs, salads and spuds are grown locally in Galway.

“We also have had access to a five acre site where we composted the food-waste and cardboard while planting trees, perennial herbs and vegetables, bamboo and flowers. With the pressures of running a restaurant, this site has now stopped being a viable asset to the business and we are now looking to re energise another plot of land. Business is hard, the pressure of ensuring all boxes are ticked for your customers and for your staff as well as ensuring there is enough money is a very hard task. The environment we have created is huge for us so not having this site and doing business on our terms has been hard at times to digest,” said owner Floris Wagemakers.

Now with a clear focus and strive to do things the way The Gourmet Offensive always intended, Flo and his team are looking at how they can be as kind to the environment as possible. Composting food waste and using compostable and recycled packaging products, as well as sourcing in season produce and local leaves and herbs is what the business ethos was built on.

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