Truly delicious food in Ireland (esp. Galway)?
I'm living in Galway for a few months from the US and so far have had some disappointing dining experiences. Vina Mara is expensive and only okay. Kirwin's Lane is even more expensive and even less impressive -- with clueless service to boot (oily fried fish for 24 dollars??? that's your lemon sole??). Ard Bia seems up-and-coming, but I haven't tried there for dinner yet. Mustard has a SUPER waiter -- just such a lovely person -- but the individual pizzas had dough that was truly cardboard-like (salt free? yeast free?), though the arugula and bacon salad had some serious flavor (though a bit heavy on the bacon for my taste). Had fantastic "tandoori mackerel" at Tulsi Indian restaurant -- really really delicious--that went perfectly with the carroty flavored rice, but the food was quite oily and the nan was heavy and cold. Ta Dang serves Chinese -- nothing incredible, but has potential; they have such a long menu that I'm convinced that if you just find the right thing you might be pretty satisfied (I liked the barbequed pork in a stir-fry; the vegetables in the main dishes seem to be uniformly well-treated ie NOT overdone but flavorful and crunchy).
Meanwhile, for cheese it's fun to hit Sheridan's (though they'd be on the expensive side); and for wine and cheese, upstairs in Sheridan's is just delightful -- enjoy a glass of wine for 4-6 euros and various cheese board options. The Saturday market right outside Sheridan's is great for the BEST FALAFEL sandwich in Ireland (full of freshly made salads, like pickled cabbage or aubergine) for just 5 euros from a stand, and the amazing olive merchant for marvelous varieties of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and some kinds of fish I haven't tried yet. As for other prepared foods at the market, I haven't yet tried the crepes or the samosas. Nor have I tried the cheese stand there yet.
As for Dublin, did anyone mention EDEN in Temple Bar? SUCH a lovely, lovely restaurant. Also, for the crunchy-granola/vegetarian/vegan option, see CORNUCOPIA on Wicklow St. (off Grafton St. to the W, sort of behind Brown Thomas) and get the mix of 3 salads (they usually have about 8 or 10 to choose from), with my all-time favorite: garlicky potato salad made with roasted hazelnuts. MM, mmm. Every time I go there I wish we had one such place in the town where I live, far far from gourmet anything.
I haven't spent any time in Doolin, Co. Clare, in a while, but I did think they did awfully well with pub grub and that the cafes and restaurants were pretty good there too (Bruach na hAille was pretty good).
Does anyone have hints for Cork? For elsewhere in Co. Galway? And elsewhere in Ireland?
In Cork - you must go to Cafe Paradiso, expensive but definitely worth it, even if you are a committed meat eater! Get lunch in the Farmgate upstairs in the English Market, or from the sandwich place near the fish section in the market itself. Good places, that aren't too pricey (by Irish standards) are Casanova's on North Main St for Italian, Cafe Mexicana on Carey's Lane for Mexican, and Wagamama's which is also on North Main St for noodles etc
In Galway, I like Da Roberta's in Salthill - very authentic Italian. There's also a good Thai/mixed Asian place near that in Salthill which I think is run by the people who do Lemongrass, and is really good, but I can't remember the name - sorry!
Must try the mutter paneer (sp?) at Govinda's cart at the Saturday market in Galway- the best I have ever had. Fairly good Chinese at Dynasty in Salthill, excellent seafood in Boluisce in Spiddal, O'Dowd's in Roundstone, Paddy Burke's in Clarinbridge worth stopping by for a pint of Guiness and a dozen oysters, Nimmo's was an excellent wine bar and bistro, but I heard it has closed :( Mmmm enjoy! I loved living there and look forward to moving back next year!
The restauarant in The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork is lovely for lunch. Also like Isaacs in Cork.