Monday gets a bad rap, everyone goes back to work and school with silicon chips inside their heads switching to overload and whatnot. Only chefs and hairdressers seem to look forward to it, the most unloved day of the week. But at last there is a good reason to love Mondays, all thanks to Kirby's restaurant on Kirwan's Lane. And when you add The Black Magic Big Band and a complimentary drink in Busker Brownes into the equation you get one of the best nights out in Galway.
If you had to put a name to the style of Kirby's food, 'modern Irish bistro' would probably cover it best. They had a very mixed crowd in on the night I went in, birthday girls, groups, and couples young and old. They have a 'crowd pleaser' menu, lots of shanks, beef olives, tortellini, and a heavy emphasis on seafood. There is not much choice for vegetarians, but on the other hand the gluten free brigade are handsomely catered to. A good wine list, mostly New World, the cheapest coming in at €22.50 but with a few thankfully available by the glass.
The menu includes a value dining option and a complimentary drink of your choice in Busker Brownes after your meal, which, while you do not quite need a PhD in maths to figure it out, is not as straightforward as it could be… €22.50 for two courses or €24.95 for three is the basic premise, but some dishes carry a surcharge which is then added to the total.
A pretty starter of crabmeat and black pudding bruschetta was delicious and a nice change from the more usual scallop and black pudding combo. It was balanced and had plenty of interesting flavour and character. A nicely judged Caesar salad, the perfect size, right amount of dressing, and well seasoned, nothing to object to at all. A basket of fresh and delicious bread made in-house came with those.
For our mains we chose an impressive looking duo of pork. Roast, stuffed, tenderloin and confit smoked pork belly. It sat on some braised red cabbage and spring onion mash with a red wine reduction. The dish was well cooked, if very filling, they do not skimp on the portion sizes in Kirby's. The other dish was one of the specials of the evening — a trio of duck, which was recommended by manager David Keogh, who was pitching in on the floor. The seared slice of duck breast was a little over the promised medium, but still good. An spring onion and ginger sausage with a hint of smoke to it was excellent, but the confit leg with a citrus fruit marmalade was the star.
Sides are extra at €3.95 each, but the portion sizes are generous enough that you probably will not need any. As always, that doesn't stop you wanting them — we had a side of piri-piri fries, not a bit shy of heat and spice.
We ordered a couple of desserts after a bit of advice from the ever helpful wait staff, one in particular seemed to have done extensive research on the desserts, which is always reassuring. This should be called The Busker Brownie, a missed marketing opportunity. It was the chocolatiest of brownies, one where the smell of the warm chocolate heralded its arrival far in advance of the very nice waitress bearing it, and the banoffi pie I had ordered for myself. I have a bit of history with the banoffi, when they were big in the nineties I used to make them the old fashioned way by boiling tins of condensed milk into the perfect thick sticky toffee sauce, until the day of the exploding tin which saw us moving house instead of trying to clean the ensuing mess. I have not made one since, but I bear the banoffi no ill will and I am happy to eat one out occasionally. This one was very good.
If you are lucky enough to be there on a Monday, pop down to the bar, collect your complimentary drink, and settle in for The Back Magic Big Band. Of course the food is just as good every other night, so you don't have to wait till Monday. If like me you haven't been in for a while, it is well worth a re-visit. Good food, lovely atmosphere, and happy staff, it has a lot going for it any day of the week.