Located in one of Galway's old and beautifully renovated buildings, the Bridge Mills Restaurant is on the banks of the Corrib just across O’Brien’s Bridge. After a 15 year absence it is back in the hands of previous owners Frank and Ellen Heneghan, also of Heneghan Florist, for almost a year now.
I now have to try hard not to gush about it too much, because this is a little gem.
First a little history lesson — the Heneghans, as well as having the Bridge Mills Restaurant, also ran the popular Budding Cafe in their florist on Sea Road — that space is now the much loved Kai cafe. Alan Williams' late lamented Abalone restaurant on Dominick Street was instrumental in starting the great culinary revival of the now thriving food scene of the West End. Mark Kelly, chef at Abalone and Kirwan’s Lane, is now leading the kitchen at the Bridge Mills, with the Abalone old premises now inhabited by Aniar. Chefs and restaurants moving like chess pieces across the playing board of Galway city, it's a job trying to keep up.
The mill itself was restored by Frank back in the eighties. Reclaimed wood, splashes of colour, and lots of flowers — the beautiful half moon window overlooking the water and the imposing working mill wheels behind the glass wall are certainly unique in the city. There is also a lovely outdoor patio, a beautiful space to eat by the river during the day as they open for coffee at 11am and have salads, soup, sandwiches, and hot food for lunch also.
In the evening this is a fully licensed restaurant with a great wine list, although nothing for under €20, a Domaine Lalaurie Sauvignon Blanc was more affordable by the glass.
We split a starter of goat’s cheese (the lovely French, Prince la Fontaine chèvre ) with pickled pear and cucumber, toasted brioche (made in the restaurant kitchen ), with a lime and honey dressing at €8.95. We were glad we had chosen to share as the portions are as generous as you could hope for.
We panicked slightly as an order for the next table main courses passed us. Their 10oz rib eye steak with chunky home fries and vodka battered onion rings looked and smelled so good that we were convinced we must have ordered the wrong thing. As it turned out, there are no bad choices on this menu. My friend’s seared scallops, rocket and coriander potato cake, pine nut and chill butter with chorizo chips was very good. My own confit duck leg with fois gras, banana dressing, candied walnut and raisin was exceptional.
Dessert was a lemon baked cheesecake with lemon curd cream, and a gluten free chocolate cake. These were more the kind of thing you would have with a mug of tea or a cup of coffee during the day, rather than to finish a meal, as they were quite substantial in themselves. There was no way we could even attempt to finish them, but they were lovely nonetheless.
Our waiter was particularly pleasant and the service excellent. The food is locally sourced with a good prominence of vegetarian dishes. The menu is short and well-thought out, combining exotic flavours with quality Irish ingredients. The prices are at the higher end for Galway but the food, service, and ambience is worth it. This is the perfect place to go for a special occasion or to bring visitors to Galway. Great food, great wine list, owned and run by a lovely Galway family, and highly recommended.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am, lunch served from 12 noon to 5pm, dinner from 5pm to finish.
The Bridge Mills Restaurant, Bridge Street, Galway, phone 091 530530.