Just Ask Restaurant of the Month for September - Rua

The “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month winner for September is Rua, Castlebar

Rua Cafe & DeliWhen Ann McMahon set up the excellent Cafe Rua just along from Castlebar’s Linenhall Arts & Exhibition Centre in 1995, she was one of the region’s culinary pioneers, serving simple, wholesome home-made food that showcased ingredients from local producers.

It was - and still is - a modest café where, although the tone is light-hearted, they are very serious about the food they serve, and it was one of the earliest “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month winners.

Today the business is mainly run by Ann’s children Aran and Colleen and, not only has her philosophy of serving ‘uncomplicated food using seasonal and local ingredients’ endured, but the second branch of the business - Rua, on Castlebar’s Spencer Street, where there is also a bakery and delicatessen - has become a mecca for food lovers from all over the west and north west of Ireland (and beyond).

Rua Best of the WestThe large blackboard menu that always gave the daily offering of the little Café Rua its sense of immediacy is an even stronger concept at Spencer Street, where there are numerous boards listing all kinds of good things to raise the spirits of weary shoppers, regular fans and hungry visitors. Proclaiming the various dishes of the day - and affording respect to proudly named suppliers - they convey the philosophy of local wholesomeness very effectively.

The lunchtime queue on the stairs has become legendary - especially on days when they are running tastings of delicious local treats in the deli below (gorgeous Castlemine Farm Beef & Stout Pies, perhaps…) - yet they somehow manage to deal with it swiftly and charmingly, and before you know it you’re comfortably seated and contemplating difficult choices.

Between an extensive main menu (see below) and the blackboard specials there’s plenty to think about - but first time visitors, at least, would be well advised to go for the famous Mayo Mezze Board €10 (deanta i maigh eo), a tasting board including Rua chicken liver pate with Stephen Gould's leaves, Claremorris Free Range Egg and their own chilli relish, Carrowholly cheese, Westport Grove quince jam, Rua soda bread and Cuinneog Dairy butter - and it even comes with a glass of homemade lemonade. How cool is that - and the idea is extended to a Made in Mayo Menu (see below), which is served at Café Rua on Friday nights.

Rua LunchThe Rua supplier list is exceptionally extensive - the one given below is a short version, but it certainly gets the message across. They have no fewer than seven regular suppliers of meats and poultry for example: there’s Sean Kelly, Newport and De Burca’s butchers, Castlebar for beef; Castlemine Farm, Roscommon and Pat Carolan, Castlebar for lamb; Andarl Farm, Claremorris for pork - and Sean Kelly and de Burcas also supply puddings and sausages. Whole chickens come from the famed Friendly Farmer of Athenry, Co Galway and Pallas Foods top up demand by supplying extra Irish chicken fillets.

Seafood is equally carefully sourced, with six regular suppliers credited - Gannet Fishmongers, Galway; Starcrest Seafoods, Laghey, Co Donegal; Connemara Smokehouse, Co Galway for Smoked Salmon; Burren Smokehouse, Co Clare for ‘Hot’ Smoked Salmon; Woodcock Smokery, West Cork for their exceptional smoked mackerel, and shellfish from Killary Fjord Shellfish, at Leenane - every one of them renowned for their specialities.

And it’s the same story for every item on the menu, whether fruit, vegetables, saladings and herbs, eggs and cheeses, drinks, preserves or seasonings - everything, down to the Cuinneog butter and Achill Sea Salt, is carefully considered. And, most local of all, there are the foods they make themselves - including a range of chutneys, relishes and dressings.

If you are wondering where a template for the way to promote the best of local food might be found, look no further - Rua would be a perfect place to start.



today's specials - daily changing main dishes are on the blackboard - please check to see what's on today

today' s soup 4.50


warm chicken salad with harrisa spiced mayo, carrot & toasted seed salad and boiled potato 10.95

connemara smokehouse smoked salmon plate with salads, pickled cucumber and rua brown bread 11.95

warm goats cheese salad with toasted seeds, rua tomato & apple chutney and garlic bread 10.95

rua chicken liver pate with cranberry & orange relish, mixed leaves and batch toast 7.95

free range egg, tuna and basil mayonnaise salad with potato & scallion salad 10.95

rua salad plate with herby hummus, mixed leaves and brown bread 10.95


blaas (soft white bap from Waterford lightly toasted) all served with mixed leaves and nadurtha pappardelle pasta & pesto salad €8.95

roast chicken, coronation mayo, mixed leaves and tomato

kelly's sausages with melted maryland cheddar and slow cooked onions

melted cooleeney brie cheese, roasted peppers, pesto and leaves

other sandwiches

toasted honey roast bacon and maryland cheddar sandwich with rua chutney and mixed leaves .... €6.95


open grilled sandwich on toasted garlic bread with roast chicken, our own arrabiatta sauce, melted mozzarella served with mixed leaves and nadurtha pasta salad 9.95

mayo mezze board €10 (deanta i maigh eo)

tasting board including rua chicken liver pate with Stephen gould's leaves, claremorris free range egg and our own chilli relish, carrowholly cheese, westport grove quince jam, rua soda bread and cuinneog dairy butter, comes with a glass of our homemade lemonade

'lunch of the year 2013' by Irish times' Catherine Cleary


warm chocolate brownie with icecream 4.95

apple or seasonal fruit pie with icecream .... 5-50

pistachio cake with greek yoghurt and knocknarea honey 5-50

bakewell square with cream 3.95

florentine (gf) 2.50

check the board for our cake of the day. all our cakes are available for preorder to take home

we've got a great kids menu please ask.
drinks are on the other side..

Sides.... €2.50 each

spuds, leaf salad, rua coleslaw, carrot and toasted seed salad, nadurtha pasta salad
many of our dishes are available gluten free - please ask when ordering, please let us know if you have any allergies to specific ingredients.
we aim to support Irish artisan food producers throughout our menus, their produce is also available to buy and take and take home from our delicatessen.
Keep up to date with us...

For Info on special events, evening dinners, tastings, daily specials & seasonal food news you can follow us on facebook or twitter. Or sign up to our monthly mailing list online at caferua.com


Made in Mayo Menu sample, Friday night at Café Rua –
Bookings 094 9023376

Mayo ‘tapas’ board for two (or more) €10

Achill Smoked Haddock croquettes with wild garlic mayo €7

Mayo Caesar Salad with Carrowholly cheese, Kelly’s crumbled black pudding and Cuinneog buttermilk dressing €6

Mayo Minestrone with wild garlic pesto €5.95


Pat Carolan’s Lamb Cutlets with dauphinoise potatoes and seasonal greens €19.95

Mayo ‘Dexter’ beef burger with sautéed spuds, local leaves and house pickles €13.95

Risotto of wild garlic, flatfield mushrooms and Carrowholly cheese €12.95

Mayo “Bouillabaisse’ Fish stew with Gerry Hasset’s Smoked Haddock and Killary shellfish €16.95

Sweet - all €5.95

Cuinneog buttermilk pudding with Irish strawberries and shortbread

Castlebar Rhubarb tart with custard

Brown Bread Ice cream with Achill sea salted caramel sauce

Our Suppliers


Beef – Sean Kelly, Newport
De Burca’s butchers, Castlebar

Lamb - Castlemine Farm, Roscommon
Pat Carolan, Castlebar

Free Range Pork – Andarl Farm, Claremorris, Co Mayo

Other Meat Products – Sausages – De Burcas
Puddings – Sean Kelly, Newport


Friendly farmer, Athenry, Co Galway – Whole Chickens
Pallas foods – Irish Chicken Fillets


Gannet Fishmongers, Galway
Starcrest, Donegal
Connemara Smokehouse – Salmon
Burren Smokehouse –‘Hot’ Salmon
Woodcock Smokery – Mackerel
Killary Shellfish


- Rural training Scheme- Castlebar
- Rua Polytunnel (May- October) – Tomaotes, Cucumbers, chard, beans, fennel, bay, other herbs, edible flowers, courgettes, beetroot
- Stephen Gould, Headford - Leaves, cress, flowers, rocket


Cheeses - Sheridans Cheesemongers
- Carrowholly, Westport, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese, Portumna
Goat products - Galway Goat Farm, Dunmore
Eggs - Claremorris Free Range Eggs
Speciality bread M& D Bakery, Waterford Blaas


Cordials - Black River Foods, Headford, American Village Connemara
Apple juice & Cider - David Llewelyn, Co Dublin

Preserves & Condiments

- Achill Sea Salt
- Westport Grove Jams



Just Ask!” is a public awareness campaign that aims to encourage consumers when eating out to look for information on where the food (particularly meat) on their plate comes from, and encourages chefs to provide this information on their menus. The programme supports both large and smaller artisan suppliers, encouraging both Irish diners and visitors from abroad to support restaurants that are in turn supporting their suppliers.

Here at Georgina Campbell Guides we have always been avid supporters of the ‘eat local’ concept, and we always enjoy reading menus that have a real sense of place. The dining experience is greatly enriched by knowing that the food on your plate is inspired by the produce and traditions of the area, and sourced nearby – and we would love to see more chefs sharing that precious information with their guests.  

If you are a visitor to the area, learning a little about local food and the people who produce it adds a special extra dimension to the visit – and, for residents, it reinforces a natural pride in the good things of their locality and makes a meal all the more enjoyable.

So, we are delighted by the high standard of menus that continue to be submitted for our ' “Just Ask!” Restaurant of the Month Competition', menus that really speak of the best of Irish foods – and the dedication of both the people who make them, and the chefs who select them to create wonderful dishes with real Irish flavour for our enjoyment.


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