Clifden's touch of class


First impressions don't necessarily last when it comes to restaurants, but the appeal that enticed Village to Mitchell's seafood restaurant in Clifden lived up to every ounce of expectation. Mitchell's enticed for several reasons. The bright and attractive frontage with large plate glass windows revealed a popular restaurant (on this October evening) with a healthy swag of customers. The menu posted outside was irresistible and to discover that the restaurant is family run was a bonus. JJ and his wife oversee proceedings at the restaurant almost every day it is open. Not that the staff need supervision. The four eastern european lads serving this evening were friendly, polite and attentive but not overbearing.

On closer inspection, it is the attention to detail that creates the warmth that gives Mitchells its homely feel. Situated just off the main square, the restaurant is housed in one of the oldest terraced buildings in the town. The stone of one interior wall is completely exposed to good effect and some original features remain intact. The house used to be a pub, still has the licence and a small bar counter with high stools was furnished from the original interior doors of the house.

Some consideration went into choosing a table setting to complement the restaurant's decor. Thick slate place mats on polished wood tables add to the rustic touch, as do the clay water jugs - glass jugs would seem out of place. Each table, occupied or vacant, is softly lit by an oil lamp. Large candlesticks on the bar counter overflow with melted candle wax. A mellow din suffused the room, but Mitchells isn't the place for a raucous party of 20.

On to the food! The menu lists a wide range of fresh seafood dishes and some interesting (yet simple) takes on how they are cooked. Mains of interest were in the mid-twenties range, worth every cent (particularly considering what is on offer for similar prices elsewhere in Clifden). Fresh homemade breads of the tomato and brown variety were served. The leek and brocolli soup was delicious, hearty but not too heavy. Deep fried gougons of cod were tenderly cooked and drizzled with a light mango dressing. A main course of fresh cod wrapped in bacon sent one customer home satisfied. The monkfish was superb. Meat options include traditional Irish stew of the Connemara lamb and roast half duckling with sage and onion stuffing and red wine gravy. Plenty of reasonably priced wines to choose from and a full bar.

The early bird menu offers a starter, main course and desert for approximately E26.50. Seats 70 over two floors. Booking is recommended. Mitchells closes for a period during winter.

Mitchell's Restaurant,
Market Street, Clifden,
Co. Galway