This delightful dockside bar and restaurant has seen many changes in recent years and, having opened its doors once again at the end of November 2014 after an extensive refurbishment, its latest reinvention has proved extremely popular. The pub downstairs is most fondly remembered as ‘Padraigs’, upstairs is still mourned for the loss of 'Sheridans Restaurant' and, most famously, the building is the birthplace of writer and journalist Padraig O Conaire.
Today, fast and friendly service makes a great first impression at Aoife Buckley and Brid Reddans combination of restaurant, bistro and wine bar.The menu won't disappoint either, with a good selection for seafood lovers and craft beer enthusiasts. The fully licensed restaurant has an extensive beer, cider and wine menu with over eighty craft beers to choose from both bottled and on tap and they pride themselves on matching beers to the dishes on their menu.
For a seaside town Galway is somewhat lacking in restaurants specialising in seafood. The restaurant here, named O’Conaire’s on the Dock, goes a long way to remedy that. It is an elegant upstairs space with stunning views out over the water, a quiet culinary oasis just a stone's throw away from the buzz of Quay Street.
A climb to the top of the stairs reveals two lovely rooms full of character, casual with dark wood tables, comfortable chairs and exposed stone walls. If you’re lucky enough to get a window seat, looking across the harbour in the early evening is magical with the billowing of sails, the distant cries of seagulls and lights twinkling on the water.
The evening fare is rooted in the traditional, such as chowder, chicken liver parfait or potted crab, with touches of innovation, Irish ham hock and leek croquettas are a delightful take on a Spanish tapa classic. Mains from the sea could be parmesan crusted sea bass with curried pearl couscous or haddock and clams with goats cheese, sprouting broccoli and confit red peppers. You are also likely to find more meaty options like pork belly with scallops, ale battered fish & chips, potted rabbit and free range chicken. But the choice for vegetarians, alas, can be more than a little limiting.
Downstairs in the bar guests can enjoy live music by the fire after their meal if they are so inclined. The bar, Dock No. 1, is open for lunch, offering a simplified version of the upstairs menu, with freshly prepared daily fish specials depending on the catch of the day. Their suppliers include Colleran’s Butchers, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and Marys Fish.
The lunchtime chalkboard lists a soup, sandwich, salad and hot special of the day. The soup may be seafood & tomato bisque or gazpacho, the salad made from Kenmare salmon, hallumi and beetroot with a zingy citrus dressing, or a hot dish of lemon sole and samphire.The menu is not overlong, but well thought out to offer a good range of dishes for lunchtime including seafood or charcuterie sharing boards, retro sandwiches like croque madame or tempting plates of wild mushroom pappardelle, steamed mussels or a wild boar burger with smoked Gubeen cheese. It is a seasonal menu that is locally focused and very reasonably priced, the sandwich special of crispy cod with fennel slaw on brioche bun with salad and fries and a choice of tea or coffee coming in at a very reasonable €10.
There are a few chairs outside where you can eat in fine weather, but be warned that there is barely a pause in the traffic from dawn till dusk on this very busy roadside pavement. The front of house team provides informal, relaxed customer service and helpful advice on the range of dining options and extensive choice of beverages. With the bonus of one of the finest views in the city, Dock No. 1 is the perfect place to drop anchor for a while when visiting Galway.