Above their long-established wine shop and delicatessen, McCambridge's of Galway have a casual - but predictably quality-conscious - restaurant on the first floor.
Accessed by a wide curving staircase from the ground floor shopping area, the decor is industrial chic with wooden beams and exposed girders, heavy-duty stainless steel spotlights and practical sturdy pine furniture.
Natural light from the windows overlooking Shop Street adds a free-and-easy feel to the dining space and, while white hotel ware may suggest a sensible and practical approach, tasteful touches hint at a restaurant that’s above the norm and ahead of the curve - they were among the first to use miniature canvas sacks used for homemade bread, for example (specially designed by Judy Greene pottery with the McCambridge logo).
Predictably, to those who know the longstanding ethos of this family business, the restaurant uses only Irish meats and poultry and asserts its supports for local and artisan producers (albeit without crediting the suppliers by name). Constant supervision by the McCambridge family is noticeable, giving an immediate sense of being in good hands – and the cooking should not disappoint.
The daytime menu offers familiar choices - Soups, Sandwiches, Salads, Hot Dishes, Cold Platters, Sides, Sweet Treats – but unusual items and first class ingredients stand out in all categories.
Dishes to look out for include a light and creamy Seafood Bisque – based on a good stock and beautifully presented in a covered tureen, it contains a rich variety of clams, mussels, salmon, whitefish and chives and offers great value, as does a Charcuterie Platter of McGeough's air-dried lamb (from Connemara), almond saucisson, coppa, bresaola, country terrine, brandy & garlic paté (about €6.95 and €11.95 respectively).
Some dishes – Some dishes — such as a smoked chicken with blue cheese salad — are available in small and large sizes (€6.95/9.95 ), and sides (all €3.95) include unusual options such as Lebanese fried potatoes, sweet potato fries and dressed Steve's leaves.
Sweet treats are served from a central buffet table: there’s a great selection of tarts, cakes, scones - priced individually - and Murphy's Ice Cream (from Dingle) is also offered.
A glass of Blood Peach Bellini (€6.95 ) makes a refreshing start to the meal. There is a worldwide selection of wines by the glass as well as beers and port. Better still, any of the wines available in the shop downstairs can be bought upstairs for an added corkage of just €6 per bottle, with €6 off on a Thursday.
The style of the evening menu remains casual, probably offering the same simple rustic dishes such as a falafel sandwich with tzatziki, purple slaw, and tahini sauce on Lebanese flat bread for €9.95, venison bangers and mash at €15.95, or McGeough’s smoked sausage with coleslaw in a bread roll with chips €12.95.The dishes most recommended for evening time are the seafood, vegetarian, cheese, and charcuterie platters, all based on good ingredients from the deli downstairs, stylishly presented and offering good value, between €9.95 and €13.95.
A great feature of the vibrant Galway dining scene, Upstairs@McCambridge’s is warmly recommended.