At the tail end of a very wet weekend in the West we found ourselves hurrying along Galway’s cobblestoned streets, seeking refuge from the driving rain. Crossing over the churning river onto Dominick Street, we spied an amber glow emanating from behind lace curtains and entered Creole, an inviting brasserie-style restaurant with touches of the old-fashioned American south: panelled walls, crystal chandeliers and light jazz playing in the background.

The menu – although in dire need of a spellcheck – was comprehensive, offering options for both the adventurous and the cautious. The early bird menu was particularly good value, at two courses for €17.95 or three for €22.95.

Arriving with a slightly incongruous, but welcome, portion of bruschetta, our starters of chicken wings and baby back ribs (€7.95 each) were served quickly, and demolished just as fast.

The wings – tossed in Louisiana hot sauce – were formidable and flavoursome, and made a refreshing change to the scrawny, underfed imposters often touted in other restaurants. A dinky little shot glass of sour cream served to temper the fire of the sauce.

In contrast, the flavours of my baby ribs (€7.95) were slow to reveal themselves, the maple and mustard glaze in turns both smoky and tangy, the meat both tender and robust. In preparation for strong flavours, we chose a Bestheim Riesling (€22.95) and found that this dry, aromatic wine provided a balancing contrast with the spicy food. Having spotted a specials board outside, I chose blackened salmon steak as my main (€18.95). This well-executed dish was a delight; its smoky exterior and delicate pink flesh reminiscent of campfires, torchlight and riverside feasts. The enormous steak was served atop an equally generous portion of ‘dirty rice’, a mysterious but delicious house special including beef mince and Cajun spices.

My fellow diner chose Cajun Jambalaya (€16.95), a traditional combination of chicken, smoked ham, smoked sausage and rice. The jumble of ingredients proved a little bland for my asbestos-palate, but certainly spicy enough for my companion’s tastes.

Taking our friendly server’s advice, I chose Creole’s Mississippi Mud Pie from the dessert menu and found myself mired in an impossibly rich mousse, just rescued by the accompanying crumbly biscuit and cream (€5.95).

My companion (a sucker for any dessert prefaced by the word ‘warm’) opted for Warm Banana Foster Crêpe served with a tastebudjangling concoction of brandy and sweetened caramel (€5.95).

While difficult to imagine on such a sodden weekend, Creole offers a popular al fresco dining option during the warmer months. I would think that this deeply satisfying, uncomplicated food and relaxed jazz ambience is perfect for balmy evenings. For us, that means a return visit in the summer; a date we’ll definitely be keeping. Rachael Kealy Open: Mon–Thu from 6pm; Fri & Sat from 5pm; Sunday from 4pm

 

We loved the strong flavours, generous portions and welcoming service

We spent €86.65 on three courses each and a bottle of wine

Creole
49 Lower Dominick Street,
Galway
Tel: +353 (0)91 895 926
www.creole.ie