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 ensure 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 head chef Jorg Gerlach’s menus, which include a reasonably priced Wine & Dine 3 course dinner (€60 per couple including a bottle of houe wine) and an à la carte.
Both offer a good range of mainly traditional fish and seafood dishes, plus a token scattering of vegetarian, chicken and steak choices, including the 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 (five or six choices for both straters and main courses), making this a pretty wide choice.
The Sunday lunch menu is naturally more limited, but it still offers at least half a dozen dishes on each course, of which half are likely to be seafood.
It is clear that Jorg Gerlach values his suppliers 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.
Fish is definitely a highlight here - very fresh, perfectly cooked and the portions are well-judged.
Specialities include ever-popular Gallagher's creamy seafood chowder and a starter of steamed wild mussels, which come 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. An unusual main course that you're not likely to see on other menus is the braised seafood selection, which is served in a smoked seasalt encrusted puff pastry case, with fennel confit and lobster sauce
Side vegetables go beyond the usual tricolour of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots – a colourful melange of carrots and yellow and red peppers, perhaps – and desserts include variations on old favourites: a crisp tartlet with warm apple, cinnamon and mixed nuts is a welcome alternative to the standard apple tart or apple crumble, for example. There's an Irish farmhouse cheese plate too, and excellent coffees should end a meal here on a high note.
The wine list is extensive and interesting, offering something for everybody, with house wines from €20 and a good choice available by the glass and half bottle.