Set back from the road with a little green and some shrubs in front and plenty of parking, Gallagher’s is in a pretty thatched house with a history dating back to the 17th century, when it is believed to have been inhabited by labourers of the O'Brien clan of Bunratty and Dromoland Castles. (Alongside is P.J. Clarke’s, a large pub/café that is in common ownership – but, once you’re inside Gallagher’s, you’re not aware of it.)
Reflecting its history, the interior of the cottage is rustic, with stone floor and walls and a mural of a Connemara scene on one wall; an open fire and a combination of dark wood and partitions make it cosy.
Pleasant and efficient staff provide a welcoming reception for arriving guests, who can relax with a drink or go straight to the table (simple bare-topped tables, no linen, paper napkins; candlelit at night) to read the menus. Kieran Murphy, formerly of Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, took over as head chef in 2016, ensuring that this long established kitchen remains in safe hands.
Fish and seafood dishes remain at the heart of the offering, of course, but the extensive à la carte also includes a good choice of alternatives including several vegetarian dishes and steaks, notably the ever-popular surf and turf (fillet steak and lobster on the carte in this case, which will set you back €40); nightly seafood specials are also offered, making this a very wide choice.
The set dinner menus are cleverly structured to allow 2/3 course menus to be chosen from highlighted dishes on the carte, with Sunday lunch operating in the same way - and, unusually, it is also offered on bank holiday Mondays.
Fish is definitely the highlight here and lobster and other luxury choices including black ('Dover') sole are available, but the wide choice of quality fish and seafood offered ensures a good dish to suit every taste, budget and occasion.
Specialities include ever-popular Gallagher's creamy seafood chowder and a starter of steamed wild mussels; served in a deep bowl – a generous portion with a creamy white wine and garlic sauce, and a finger bowl supplied along with a bowl for empty shells - it is available in two sizes. An unusual main course that you're not likely to see on other menus Gallagher's Seafood Tagine - a selection of fish, crab claw, mussels and scallops in a fruity tomato and saffron broth with chick peas, chorizo and scallion with roast pepper couscous and garlic ciabatta and chilli-yogurt dip.
The wine list is extensive and interesting, offering something for everybody, with house wines from about €20 and a good choice available by the glass and half bottle - and there is also an extensive choice of craft beers and a whisky/whiskey collection, covering both international and Irish whiskeys.
Under the overall direction of the General Manager, Barry Tierney, this is a well run restaurant and good service provides a pleasant dining experience to match the good food.