Since 2000, Euro-Toques chef Michael O’Meara has been pleasing diners with his wonderfully creative cooking at his seafood restaurant in the city centre. Together with his wife, Sinead Hughes, they’ve created a Galway favourite, just a couple of minutes’ walk across the bridge and away from the bustle of Galway’s Spanish Arch.
Popular with locals as much as tourists, the broad menu is based on the day’s catch, and the most local and seasonal of ingredients. The exterior is blue, bold and fun; the interior a bizarre blaze of theatrical flourishes, big top draping, bright red booths and oversized photos (with a food-theme, snapped by Michael who is as handy with a camera as a set of knives).
If the décor isn’t to everyone’s taste the food most certainly will be. Smart accompaniments, great saucing and accomplished techniques typify the cooking at Oscars, and everything looks really appealing too.
Michael proudly credits his chosen suppliers and, while some seafood imports are also used, fish comes mainly from Stephane Griesbach's highly regarded Gannet Fishmongers (who source most of their fish locally from the Galway and Aran Fishermen's Co-op in Rossaveal).
Speciality seafood dishes include a tapas platter that might feature Clare Island salmon tartare, Bearna brown crab, sushi roll, prawn pakora, seafood croquettes, smoked salmon and Galway oysters; or a main course of grilled Bearna lobster served on seaweed, with garlic and lemon butter and imaginative vegetables including samphire, leek, peas and beans - perfectly cooked and vibrant green they are a simple and delicious treat.
Even a simple dish of fish and chips is given star status, perhaps featuring octopus in a gram flour batter with Maris Piper chips and a sundried tomato and caper mayonnaise.
Striving for perfection, Michael O’Meara also visits both the Moycullen and Galway farmers’ markets to take advantage of the best possible seasonal ingredients – and regularly supports outstanding local products, including Killeen Cheese (CAIS member Marion Roeleveld’s gouda-style cheese, made near Portumna; www.irishcheese.ie) as well as the multi-award winning Clare Island organic salmon (www.marineharvest.com), which is widely regarded as Ireland’s best alternative to wild salmon.
Portions are very generous and the wide ranging menu ensures everyone is well catered for. The €15 menu for 2 courses before 7pm is excellent value and a very attractive way to experience great Irish cooking. There’s quality meat on offer too, from two ACBI (Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland) members, Collerans Butchers of Galway and McGeough’s of Oughterard, the famous Connemara butchers/speciality meats producer; beef is from the Irish Hereford Society and the free-range chicken is supplied by The Friendly Farmer, Athenry.
Oscar’s wine list is extensive, strong on European wines and with a well-chosen New World selection, though we’d like to see more wines by the glass. The mostly local staff are delightful, taking real pride in their work and in looking after their customers to ensure a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all.
Showcasing the finest of local seafood, this bustling city restaurant offers some of the best fish cooking in the country; the good value and charming service are an added bonus.