In common ownership with the renowned seafood restaurant O’Grady’s of Barna (see entry), Michael O’Grady’s place in the city is a little oasis just off Galway’s main shopping thoroughfare - on a fine day you can sit outside and relax here in the fresh air, away from the bustle of the street.
Following a recent makeover, this stylish modern Galway restaurants now a story of two parts, offering evening menus in the elegant first-floor Kirwan’s Lane, while the O’Grady family’s particular speciality comes across loud and clear in The Seafood Bar @Kirwan’s on the ground floor.
A bar with a few high stools, and big doors that open out to allow for outside seating in fine weather contribute to the informal atmosphere of the Seafood Bar. The decor seamlessly combines old and new in walls of natural stone and subtle sage green, darkwood tables with ladderback chairs and squashy banquettes – and traditional light fittings with quirkily mismatched shades.
It’s an attractive mix and, in the unlikely event of a long delay between ordering from the (very tempting) menu, Michael has even provided some interesting reading on the back, where you’ll find extracts from his father Jackie O’Grady’s delightful memoir of life on nearby Clare Island, ‘The Green Road To The Lighthouse’.
Excellent choices on the Seafood Bar menu include many seafood classics – including native Galway oysters in season, of course (also Gigas, which are available all year), Connemara Smokehouse smoked salmon (served various ways – including sushi), seafood platters and Kirwan’s seafood chowder, Galway Bay lobster, crab, Connemara mussels and Dingle Bay prawns (langoustines).
A range of whatever wonderfully fresh fish is available on the day is offered in a both traditional and contemporary styles, with delicious sides like local spuds and seasonal salads.
Landlubbers get a little look in of course, with a few choice offerings (including a good steak), desserts are of the old favourites kind (anyone for a classic chocolate mousse with pistachio crumbs?), and the short but carefully chosen wine list includes seven by the glass.
Upstairs, beyond a huge gilt-framed feature mirror that seems to signify an elevated mood-change as you go up the smart lightwood staircase, Kirwan’s Lane restaurant offers a more formal alternative in the evening.
This elegant Galway restaurants smartly appointed tables are covered with white damask cloths and simple décor in subtle shades of sage greys with mustard highlights.
This makes a classy setting for excellent cooking from a well-judged à la carte that is not over-extensive, but takes on board the tastes of vegetarians and meat-eaters as well as having a predictably strong showing of fish and shellfish.
As always has always been the case here, outstanding breads set the tone for the smart cooking that is to come: a smoked haddock & spinach risotto with fresh parmesan and lemon oil to start, perhaps, or terrine of foie gras with homemade brioche and apricot & red onion chutney – maybe followed by saddle of rabbit with black pudding stuffing, parma ham, wholegrain mustard mousseline and sage jus.
Finish with a tempting pudding (fresh raspberry meringue roulade, with mango coulis perhaps) and really good coffee.
With good cooking backed up by a relaxed ambience, attentive service, and an interesting wine list with well-chosen house wines, both the Seafood Bar and Kirwan’s Lane are very pleasant places to eat – and many would cite this a favourite destination in Galway City.