Many have argued about which are their favourite restaurants in Galway's West End, each preferring one over another, modern over conventional, trend over tradition. The real wonder is that, just a few years ago, this argument could not have erupted. Where restaurants were few and far between, now they are abounding.
Dela is one of these relatively new restaurants. The owners, Joe and Margaret Bohan, share an ethos that focuses on the best of local and seasonal produce from recognised suppliers in a relaxed, casual, setting, perfectly placed in the middle of Dominick Street. Both are Galway natives, but their menu is inspired by their travels across Europe and in particular, Scandinavia.
Behind the traditional shopfront style entrance, the room itself is delightful. High ceilings to the rear, reclaimed scaffold boards, old milk churns and grape harvesting baskets as lampshades all prettily arranged to recreate an authentic Scandi-vibe. There are chive blossoms casually placed in vases, zingy napkins and twinkling tea lights brighten up the bare wood tables. Even the jugs on the table are from IKEA, you don't get more Scandinavian than that.
They have been busy this past year gaining a reputation as one of Galway's top weekend brunch spots, with alternative dishes such as warm mackerel and roast beetroot salad with horseradish dressing, or poached eggs with thyme infused hollandaise served on quinoa with butternut squash and ryefield goat’s cheese, alongside the more usual brunch staples of fry, granola, and eggs Benedict.
The evening menu has a nice selection of platters, charcuterie, cheese, or seafood, for one or two, perfect as a light snack with a glass of wine or something from the ever growing collection of craft beers. There is a brief and somewhat needless 'small plates' section whose inhabitants of patatas bravas, sautéed prawns, and mussels could easily be housed between the starters and sides. There are a lot of good ideas in this menu, but it does need some further clarification.
The select wine list is compact, a selection of their favourites come most helpfully by the glass, carafe, and bottle. The cocktail list is innovative, the concoctions dotted with herbs and flowers. We sampled a couple of them, a honey and rosemary daiquiri and a plum and sloe gin fizz, both deliciously intriguing. The front of house staff are utterly charming and helpful and the kitchen produces some good, imaginative food. Our server Pierce was a treasure. Informative, knowledgeable, and a craft beer enthusiast, he could not have been any more accommodating, and they do serve some gorgeous local brews.
On my most recent visit, we chose from the a la carte menu. Starters of salmon (Dela’s own cure ) with horseradish and parsnip purée and a dainty quail egg, and grilled blue fin tuna with piquillo pepper were both priced at €8. Both were very well executed, polished and flavoursome.
The Rossaveal scallops with black pudding and pea puree that I had eaten there last summer, something of a signature dish, was gone from the menu. I am surprised that there were no protestors outside the premises to force them to return it, such a magnificent dish it was. I comforted myself instead with the Rossaveal scallops and dark, maple glazed pork belly, a quality dish made of top class local produce. Priced at €22.50 and €28.50 respectively, the oven-baked black sole fillet with serrano ham, confit potatoes, samphire, and clams with that seventies favourite Martini Bianco sauce was a little less successful, a little overcooked and a tad on the salty side, but tasty none the less.
There were a couple of side dishes, extra at €3.50 apiece, a bowl of herby buttered peas and carrots, and 'Dela chunky chips' which turned out to be potato wedges, skin on and rustic, crisp, and nicely seasoned.
Their chocolate tasting plate to share at €12.50 is the best of the three desserts listed. A generous platter with chocolate soufflé, marquis de chocolate, a very sweet white chocolate mousse, and chocolate marshmallow ganache. There is even a palate cleansing tropical sorbet with berries. If you have someone willing to share, great, but I know many who would manage to clear it by themselves.
A creative approach to local ingredients, local sourcing, and seasonally driven menus are no longer new on our dining scene. When a restaurant like this is particularly innovative, they are still a phenomenon to praise and celebrate. Dela guarantees good service with a smile. All I will say is, visit if you possibly can, you will be made more than welcome.
Currently open from 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 4pm.