Rachael Kealy checks out the seaside restaurant, Salt, in Galway.
It’s a rare thing in Ireland to combine a Sunday with sunshine and a trip to the seaside. We somehow managed this remarkable feat on the day we visited Salt, the newly-opened seafood restaurant in Salthill, Galway. Despite the honeyed voice of the jazz singer inside – and a glamorous modelling shoot downstairs – we chose to sit on Tiffany-blue benches outside, revelling in the unexpected autumn sun.
The lunch menu entailed a smattering of simple mains and some seasonal specials. We immediately settled on the ‘Galway style’ bouillabaisse, but alas, it was sold out. The alternative option of carrot soup didn’t appeal, so we opted to sample the enticing cocktail menu.
I chanced a ‘Promenade’, containing Dingle Gin, violet and dillisk (€11), but quickly regretted my bravery. The violently violet flavour was akin to drinking liquidated Love Hearts - the purple ones. The seaweed sprinkles didn’t help. The attentive staff, noticing my grimace, quickly replaced it with another glass of my companion’s excellent ‘Bark & Stormy’, a local take on the heady Bermudan classic.
Given the proximity to the glistening Atlantic, I chose the seafood mixed grill (€15). Its salmon was the highlight, offering fresh flavours within a skilfully seared seal. The mussels yawned open on the plate, their dusky-coloured meat surprisingly firm for their small stature. The calamari and deep-fried fish were firm and evenly-cooked, but the batter more a damp duvet than crisp casing. The tartar sauce proved superb though, injecting the dish with a lively tang.
My dining partner plumped for the chargrilled baguette of beef with wild rocket and Cashel Blue (€10.95). It was a generous dish, with neon-pink pickled onions curling around an abundance of sliced steak. The generic white roll was enlivened by a dart of horseradish, but aside from this, the dish was quite dry. It was only as we paid the bill we realised why – the cheese had gone AWOL from the order.
A bottle of Alsation Bestheim Riesling (€34) helped, as did the thoroughly enjoyable banter with the staff, who had plenty of that famed Galway humour. The manager even managed a quick lesson in social media apps, in between courses.
He told me that the chef’s speciality dessert is banoffee mess (€7). Their pride is justified, as it was certainly one of the finest versions we’ve enjoyed this year. Golden caramelised banana, crushed biscuits and crunchy meringue were all arranged in carefully choregraphed chaos, the rich, intensely sweet toffee sauce softened by delicate clouds of Chantilly cream.
When we visited, Salt was only open seven weeks – they had their baptism of fire during Race Week – so it’ll be intriguing to watch it grow and iron out its creases. It’s certainly an enjoyable place to spend a Sunday, with or without the elusive sun.
We loved: the seaside location, vibrant atmosphere and fabulous live jazz
We spent: €86.45 on two cocktails, two mains, a dessert and a bottle of white wine.
Salt Restaurant and Bar, 163 Upper Salthill , Galway
Tel: +353(0)91 448441; www.saltgalway.com
Open: every day, 12pm to late