In a stunning position, with views over the harbour and beach to distant mountains, Michael O’Grady’s charming seafood restaurant is a favourite destination among Galway diners. It is a lovely spot on a fine summer’s day, with tables set up outside the restaurant, and old boats around the harbour adding to the atmosphere.
Inside, a low key interior with simple table settings and nautical and seafood-related décor has character; there are some contemporary elements (especially on the first floor), but tradition has also been allowed its place - the old fireplace has been retained, for example - and Michael’s aim is for his seafood to be “simply prepared and very fresh as my father did it years ago”.
This he and his kitchen team, headed up by Sligo chef Keith Carden, are doing very well, although world cuisine is given a little space too, notably among the daytime blackboard specials. Interesting dinner menus offer a wonderful choice, plus perhaps nine or ten extra daily special fish dishes.
Recent visits have found this charming place consistently on top form - the cooking skill and style is impressive, and attentive, helpful staff back up the kitchen well, ensuring that the laid back atmosphere is genuinely relaxing.
The ubiquitous tiger prawn sometimes makes a surprising appearance, but most of the wide range of fish and seafood is fresh local produce, delivered daily – among them Cleggan crab, Rossaveal clams, Galway oysters (in season), Galway Bay lobster, local mussels, Aran salmon, locally caught mackerel, and sea fish landed at nearby Rossaveal.
And the best dishes are the simplest: a starter of 12 oysters; Galway Bay lobster served with lemon & salad, perhaps, and main course of grilled whole Dover sole on the bone with lemon & parsley butter. The cooking is skilfully judged, and you should enjoy some of the most delicious seafood dishes you are likely to encounter anywhere. (Ever innovative, Michael was winner of our Creative Seafood Dish Award in 2001, and more recent awards GCG/BIM Seafood Restaurant of the Year.)
There should be a good choice for non-seafood eaters; interesting dishes might include wild rabbit terrine among the starters and main courses such as Connemara lamb, and game - such as Dromoland venison - in season. Desserts, such as a zesty pistachio & olive oil cake, with roasted strawberries and clotted cream, are worth saving some room too, and there's an interesting mainly Irish cheeseboard.
Service, under the direction of the Fiona Kenny, is always friendly and attentive, and the wine list is well chosen to match the menu.
*Kirwan's Lane, a sister restaurant in Galway City, also has a strong focus on seafood.