Paddy Burke’s restaurant and the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival

Along with its nearby neighbour, Moran’s of the Weir, I reckon Paddy Burke’s must be one of the best known landmark pubs in the country. I pass by the front door most days and there are always cars turning in to park, especially tourists who have heard the name or have been there previously. For myself it is the place of one of my earliest culinary memories. During the mid to late 1970s I was a regular diner there, that was when bar food had just moved from ‘hang sandwiches’ to toasted sandwiches (really posh ) and to hot food. My absolute favourite dish back then was chicken cordon bleu and it was the most popular dish on their menu for many years. The luxury of it, breaded on the outside, ham on the inside, and a cheesy sauce oozed out as soon as it was cut. I am sure many readers will remember this dish too.

Paddy Burke’s is still very much the same as it was then and the bar just inside the front door is the favourite spot for all the regulars. It has always had a great name for a pint and still does. You can eat at the bar, or in one of the smaller areas or in the dining room, the same menu is served throughout. It is an all day and all evening menu with a new section of ‘light bites’ such as hot and spicy chicken wings with salad and fries, €8.75, baby back ribs with salad and fries for €9.50, or a steak sandwich with mushrooms, onions, and fries for €12.50. Needless to say the menu has native oysters served on the half shell, €23.50 per dozen, and baked oysters for €24 per dozen.

For a starter we chose crab claws in garlic butter, €12.50, and golden fried brie with a homemade Cumberland sauce, €7.50. I had the crab claws and they were really excellent, often I get crab claws that are tiny, or wizened, or tough as nails, and being an expensive dish that is just not acceptable. However these were all a good plump size and, more importantly, they were all soft and delicious. In fact the helping would be a perfect light bite with a glass of wine. It also came with a warm finger bowl. Our other starter was a large serving of deep fried brie. This starter broke open into a river of melting brie which worked perfectly with the Cumberland sauce, not a morsel was left. We had a glass each of sauvignon blanc, Cono Sur, €4.95

Although I had not been to Paddy Burke’s for a while, I had heard several reports of the steaks being excellent. Consequently we ordered the surf and turf; this was a T-bone steak with prawns, fried onions, mushrooms, onion rings, and a pepper sauce, €24.95. We also ordered the grilled fillet of hake served with wild mushrooms, asparagus, truffle oil, and parmesan shavings, €17.25. As you can see in the picture the steak was substantial and both the fillet and sirloin parts were tender. The pepper sauce was nice and fiery, and if this is an indication of how all steaks are cooked you will not be disappointed. You can choose from sirloin, fillet, or T-bone. The hake had an unusual combination of ingredients and worked fairly well. Truffle oil has a very intense flavour and I think the chef may have let his hand slip when adding it to the dish, it was a bit overpowering for me and I think I would leave it out if ordering again.

All during the meal the service was excellent and even though we arrived early at 6.30pm the bar and dining area was pretty full with staff on their toes to look after everyone. The choice of background music, I thought, was good, 1970s hits, certainly suited my age group. Just for research we sampled some desserts, cappuccino and peach gateau, €5.25, and Paddy Burke’s biscuit cake, €5.25, both were large portions and all fresh made in-house. The gateau was as soft as snow with a light taste of coffee and the biscuit cake was made with chocolate, Mars bars and Snickers, and tasted good.

For bookings call (091 ) 796226 or visit www.paddyburkesgalway.com

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