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Thursday, 6 September 2012

the malt house restaurant

I used to go to The Kings Head quite a bit for lunch, but lately, with the introduction of the connecting door, I have found myself nipping into The Malt House. Don't get me wrong - I love 'The Head', good pub food (and I have been assured that no spaniels were harmed in the making of their 'King Charles' Burger'), nice staff and always great craic. But here's the thing. I'm no sports fan and since they have one of the biggest screens in town, I leave the sporty types to enjoy themselves and tootle into The Malt House. In fact, I seem to have tootled in there so often recently that our five year old daughter complained on our recent summer 'holiers' in Spain that the mussels she was served were not as good as 'at home in The Malt House'. I fear I may have created a tiny food critic.

Everyone's a critic.

This long-established place, tucked away down one of Galway's quaint little lanes just off High Street has developed something of a new lease of life since new owners Mary and Paul Grealish took ownership a few years ago. You may remember it from about ten years ago when it was rather formal and seemingly always filled with solicitors. It's now more relaxed and casual, the dining room is bright and spacious, with a feature wall of quirky, fun plates. The food tends towards upmarket Irish bistro dishes with an international twist and they specialise in local and organic. Listed among their suppliers are some of Galway's finest, Stephen Gould's leaves, bread and meat from their nearest neighbours Griffin's Bakery and Colleran's Butchers. This is a restaurant that goes out of its way to support the local small producers and suppliers.

                Smoked suckling pig with rhubarb and ginger compote

Historically, this was the spot where the good people of Galway went for special occasions. The Malt House must have seen more birthdays and anniversaries than most restaurants over the years. Indeed, the evening menu still has special occasion written all over it. Starters of Rabbit Ballotine, Malbay Crab Claws or Quinoa Salad with Peashoots are followed by mains such as Medallions of Monkfish, with Killeen Goats Cheese and Beetroot Arancini and a showstopping Duck Tasting Plate that includes a roasted breast, confit leg and pan-fried liver. This needs to be sampled to be believed. There is a fantastically priced option of the Value Saver menu with two courses for €24 or three courses for €29 and with such tempting fare as Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Organic Fillets of Sea Trout and their perfect melty, warm chocolate fondant to choose from - it really does represent some of the best value for money anywhere in town. 

Hake with crushed baby potatoes and sundried tomato with basil cream.

The wine list is full of favourites - some excellent bottles on offer from a 2007 Domaine de la Charbonnaire Chateauneuf du Pape to the 2009 Comte la fond Sancerre, some also recommended by the glass and a very reasonable Dow Vintage 1985 port for €11.50. But don't worry if you are not a wine drinker, there are plenty of beers on tap including the local brew 'Galway Hooker' and the staff are always happy to nip into the Kings Head for you and get you a cocktail.

Always check the specials board.

However, it's the great value lunch menu that has me racking up my 'frequent flyer' miles. If you consider that you wouldn't get much change from a tenner from a takeaway of cod, chips and mushy peas, or your lunchtime soup and sandwich at any cafe in the city, then eating fresh haddock with a tomato couscous crust and organic salad for €10 from a ceramic plate, served by pleasant staff in Galway's best lunch time hidey-hole is definitely something of a bargain. Lunch is decidedly cheaper, has more traditional choices and is, quite frankly, a joy. I love the room and the modern decor and I really, really love the food. Head Chef Brendan Keane has been at the helm in the kitchen from its new beginning and it shows.

The lunchtime B.L.T. Salad

The consistently excellent results are testament to the continuity that comes from a tightly knit team. They do a fantastic burger that comes with a glorious slice of smoked suckling pig, their very excellent chips and blue cheese dip for €10. The highest priced item on the menu is the steak, as you might expect, but at €15 it's still priced at the lower end of the scale. They have a lovely deconstructed BLT salad and delicious fish and chips but the really good value here is usually on the specials board.

You will always find a wide selection of seafood, depending on the daily catch, and something the kitchen crew here cooks exceptionally well. Also, they are the undisputed kings of quinoa, which features in nearly always one if not more menu items and is always used imaginatively. Stir-fried with sauté spinach, beetroot and crème fraîche or in a spring vegetable and butterbean curry infused with coconut, lemongrass, lime and char-grilled bread - a vegetarian nirvana.

I always look forward to the seasonal changes from this kitchen - and coming into my favourite season now with game and venison, mushrooms and blackberries - I am excited to see what Brendan and Sous-Chef Brian McCormack will come up with. Brian is also well worth a follow on twitter @malthouserest to give you a heads up on the specials. He tweeted last Mother's Day "Free range chicken, Clare Island organic salmon, mothers love us, would be delighted to see you!" I'm one mother who loves them a lot.

Chocolate caramel cheesecake with a peanut butter cookie

Olde Malt Mall, 15 High Street, Galway, Ireland
T:+353 91 567866  F:+353 91 563993   info@themalthouse.ie


  1. Your posts always make me so incredibly hungry!

    1. They are written with some almonds to nibble on, I once had to go out and buy cheese in the middle of one. My life is very hard.

  2. The photos are just gorgeous Amee. Will have to meet you there for lunch love the mussels myself.

  3. Sounds proper delicious. Wish we had a local place like that. Lots of great eating down in the centre of town but up in our residential suburb, nothing of this style.

    1. That is a problem in most suburbs. They must think you guys are not hungry :)

  4. I love the plates on the wall - and the pic of the little critic is hilarious. Chefs will be quaking in their boots when they see her coming! :)

  5. Thanks for visiting Aoife! Yes - she has the 'Micheal Winner'face down. Even 5 yr olds have standards tho - and a lot of the food we found in spain was just not up to hers - we are very lucky in Ireland to have such good produce I suppose.

  6. Hi Amee,

    I love the cuisine you've featured. It just made my day! The photos are pretty luring me to eat.

    Great work on your blog posts! If you get a chance I’d really appreciate if you took a look at mine.

    Speak soon.
    John Mulry
    Expert Success Fitness


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