Last week Ali and myself took to the road for Galway for a 5 day stay in Salthill with my parents and two brothers. I have never spent much time in Galway, only ever there for an odd gig, I was always looking for the quickest way home but not this time, this was food exploration time! There’ll be plenty more about our antics in Galway in future posts but this one is about the quintessential fish and chip shop; Mc Donagh’s.
I walked into Mc Donagh’s not quite knowing what to expect. My Mother had been raving about it since we decided to go to Galway (actually I think Mc Donagh’s and O’Grady’s On The Pier were the main reason she was pushing so hard for Galway, even if she did swear that it was actually called O’Reilly’s On The Pier) and although I had always thought that it was a chipper, she insisted that it is a restaurant. In reality I’m still not sure exactly what it is but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a chipper on the left and a restaurant on the right. It sounds quite simple but intermingles recklessly. The majority of people in the restaurant section seemed to be eating big plates of fish and chips, as were the people in the chipper section…..the main difference? Those on the right were dressed a little better and had staff serving to their every need.
We waited in line for the restaurant for about 20 minutes before being shown to our seats. The amiable staff never faultered and showed great patience throughout. A difficult job when turning tables is an obvious requirement. For starter I went for the Wild Clarenbridge Mussels which were beautifully cooked in a mix of coconut milk, garlic, chilli and lemongrass. Simplicity is the key here and although the mussels still had a few beards attached and weren’t seasoned quite as much as necessary, they still pretty much nailed it.
In a break from tradition I decided to go for one of the specials instead of the usual battered fish and chips. My Silver Hake was well cooked and retained plenty of moisture. It was joined on the plate by a delicious pea and mint puree and lay on a bed of baby potatoes. I’m not sure what the creamy sauce was as it didn’t taste too much like anything. Overall it was a nice dish, the elements didn’t quite sit together but the fish was cooked beautifully and that was good enough for me.
I thought Mc Donagh’s was pretty good value. The fish is fresh and delicious while the chips are also excellent. A chipper probably isn’t the place to be expecting a more refined meal but they can provide that too even if it does seem a little confused.
Mc Donagh’s is a place of legend serving good food at an appropriate price, well worth a visit.