This is one of Quay Street’s longer established restaurants, owner-run by experienced restaurateur Martine McDonagh and her two sons, one of whom - Enda Hoolmaa - is now the chef.
The smart brown/black facade faces another McDonagh family venture, McDonagh’s famous fish restaurant, directly across the street, and - like most other Quay Street cafes and restaurants - Martine’s has a few tables for on-street dining in the summer months.
A small bar leads to the two separate dining rooms, the bright front one looking onto Quay Street or a darker one at the back with large mirrors and a motley assortment of furniture; bustling, with tables quite close together and low background pop/jazz music, there’s a clubby feel to the place specially the back room.
This Galway restaurants popular with locals and tourists alike but, despite its wide appeal, it is a focused operation and Enda - who has spent some time working at The Fat Duck in Berkshire - is keen to ensure that his customers get nothing but the best.
Local and artisan-produced seasonal ingredients are the foundation for cooking which is deliberately kept simple (by restaurant standards), with everything homemade.
It's good to see an emphasis on quality ingredients - especially poultry, which includes free range chicken from the Friendly Farmer in Athenry and Skeaghanore duck from West Cork, along with produce from Enda's dad, Eddie Hoolmaa's, Marian Gardens in Co Waterford. However, while menus give appealing choices for everyone, including vegetarians and other customers with special dietary needs, their pride and joy is undoubtedly the 35 day dry-aged Irish Angus beef.
Local seafood features too, of course, but - unusually for a West of Ireland restaurant - steaks are the main business here: Porterhouse, prime bone-in rib-eyes, New York strips - you name it, they'll have the speciality steak of your choice to cook in the special charcoal oven that gives it that incomparable flavour. Starters include 35 day aged carpaccio of beef, and even the burgers are made with dry-aged steak; accompaniments (including the ketchup) are all made in-house.
Desserts include some classic comfort food (bread & butter pudding, French apple tart...), and there's also a bar menu of lighter dishes, for those who just want a bite and a glass of wine from a carefully chosen list that includes a cocktail menu and a good choice by the glass.
Service is friendly, and there’s a good buzz. Many of the dishes (and all sauces) are coeliac friendly and the early evening 2-Course meal, chosen from the à la carte menu, is particularly good value at @ €19.95.