Sally McKenna goes to the seashore in Barna to meet up with Dulse.

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While this restaurant is still recommended, please note there has been a change of chef since this review was published.


There's a lot to like about Dulse.
The room in Barna - it was formerly Mulberry’s - is lovely: classy, open-styled, lean and colourful, with neat notices hand-written on an array of blackboards. Even on a quiet midweek night, there is a feeling of intimacy, achieved by simple devices: it's always a good idea to plant a big candle in an old gin bottle and light it up on the middle of the table.
The staff are fleet and experienced, with the right amount of chat and the right amount of directness. The result is a restaurant space that feels both metropolitan, and yet local.
And for a restaurant that was open for only a fortnight when we visited, there are already many glimpses of what chef-patron David O’Donnell will achieve. His cooking is clean in thought and execution and, with more time in the kitchen, the fluency the dishes need to ratchet up the oomph! factor will arrive. Dulse is embryonic, but it’s bursting with potential.
First up was a little taster of Aran Island goats cheese, with excellent beetroot, pear sap, and chervil, before starter dishes of crab and smoked mackerel, and scampi-like monkfish with panko and Parmesan crumb, showed how lissome and light Mr O’Donnell’s cooking is.
Main course of mallard, with carrot and pear, a croquette of duck leg and truffle mash with camomile jus, and pasture-reared chicken with herb mash and Roscoff onions, showed the hearty and robust element of the kitchen, strong flavours neatly marshalled with their appropriate vegetables. We matched them with a really outstanding wine, Biancardi Primitivo from Puglia, all clove and blackberry notes.
A courgette brownie was shared for dessert, but this was the one dish where the kitchen couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to achieve.
Pudding aside, this is good cooking. There’s a lot to like about Dulse.
Barna, Co Galway 091 592 123