Before vegetarians were introduced to Ireland and before gluten-free was a thing, there was The Galleon. Situated in the heart of Salthill, just a short walk from the Promenade, this restaurant is always busy. It is kept bustling throughout the summer with the tourists who throng this much loved coastal village and it is just as popular with the local residents. The relaxed, cosy, atmosphere and welcoming staff ensure it also enjoys a large share of repeat custom, keeping it full through the winter months.
The Galleon is in the ownership of the third generation of the same family since it opened its doors as The Galleon Grill in 1965, beginning under the ownership of Jimmy Lydon and on to the current owner since 2009, Roger O’Sullivan. Not only is The Galleon a family business, it is also one of the most family-friendly restaurants in the city. The smallest diners are well catered for with a good menu of children's favourites. While the adults eat, the young guests are provided with crayons to colour with and are presented with a chocolate gold coin from The Galleon’s treasure chest on leaving. There is a separate area to the rear of the restaurant which can be used as a function area, catering for parties of up to 30 people, perfect for celebrating confirmation, Communions, and special occasions.
There really is something for everyone and all meals are covered from a traditional breakfast, a full three course dinner, or just a quiet coffee and scone. A real feature is the view into the kitchen which, like many modern restaurants, offers the diners the opportunity to indulge their voyeuristic tendencies. The selection of food includes hearty roasts, fresh fish, salads and sandwiches, creamy pasta, and indulgent desserts. The team have kept up with the times and also have some gluten-free options and vegetarian specialities. The menu is competitively priced with a list of daily specials available from 12 noon to 5pm. You can have a main course and a starter for €14.50; starters include Atlantic seafood chowder, crisp calamari rings, and golden fried breaded mushrooms. If you are forgoing the starter, main courses cost around €10, there is plenty of choice including traditional Irish lamb stew, bacon and cabbage, and spaghetti Bolognese. Wine, spirits, beers, and liqueurs are also available.
On my most recent visit I enjoyed the seafood chowder, thick and filled to capacity with a selection of good things from the ocean — seafood is something that is done particularly well here. This wonderfully creamy chowder is always a winner and with a few slices of brown bread with Irish salted butter it is hard to beat.
Friday night is steak night at the Galleon, and despite our new understanding of the impact the mass production of meat has on our planet, and the impact our ever-growing familiarity with processed meats has on our health, it is very hard to think that meat might lose its central place in the Irish diet. If you are going to eat beef, you want to know it has come from an animal that has lived well. The Galleon is more than capable of satiating the most enthusiastic steak aficionado. They know how to source beef, cut steaks thick enough, and char them properly. They are putting prime cuts of Irish beef centre stage, the meat is fantastic, rich, deep, with that dense tang that comes with proper hanging, all accompanied by enough chips, onion rings, and sauces to satisfy the ravenous and a free local craft beer to boot.
This is a great local restaurant which continues to please its customers with its varied, well priced, menu. Everybody has a Galleon story, it is a building that is alive with great people from the moment you set foot inside until the moment you leave. It is firmly rooted in the community, a constant in the ever changing face of the Salthill landscape. The long serving staff have developed one-to-one relationships with their customers over the years, some bring grandchildren in as they did their own children, as if they were part of their family. Competent, uncomplicated, cooking, and Irish hospitality at its finest. It is this emphasis placed firmly on customer service, choice, and value that ensures the enduring popularity of this great Galway institution.
As new restaurants open in town, it is good to remember some of the pioneers who first broke ground, dishing up delicious meals year after year. Over five million satisfied customers at The Galleon cannot be wrong.