Just back from a few days in Dublin and a few in Galway/Aran Islands and wanted to share some thoughts on great places:
1. Forest Avenue - very innovative food and a couple of nice predinner drink options (like a craft vermouth over ice) in a relaxed and modern setting, with very friendly service. we had a 3-course menu for ~50 Euros (before drinks) that was a solid deal. the amuses bouches were incredible, including a little fried bread ball w/ smoked cheese that will haunt my dreams. sommolier was fun. if you get a chance, chat w/ the woman who runs front of house (married to chef) who's lived all over and gave us great guidance on other great places to eat.
2. Greenhouse - really excellent food, very well constructed w/ each ingredient adding to a balanced flavor, and beautifully presented. we had a 5-course meal for ~85 Euros (before drinks) best dishes were a turbot w/ it wasn't as casual and easygoing as Forest (waiters and sommelier were in suits and a bit formal) and it got really hot at our table (but they did turn on the a/c when we asked).
3. Pepperpot - cute cafe place for breakfast or a snack w/ great baked goods. the brown bread with butter was the best we had anywhere in ireland and the victoria's sponge cake was spectacular.
4. Fallon & Byrne - food hall & upscale grocery that's a great place to pick up lunch, w/ lots of options including some good vegetable options. the grocery part has some high-quality uniquely European snacks, chocolates, etc.
5. Super Miss Sue - went for lunch, had a meal salad that had very fresh vegetables and was really nice, though most items are heavier (fried fish, fried chicken). nothing fancy, nothing super special, but a good option for a low-key lunch. very friendly and welcoming service.
Didn't get to try:
Etto - we heard from two restauranteurs that this was a great place, and an option for lunch. sadly we didn't learn about it until too late for us to try it.
Rustic Stone - most of the entrees are pieces of meat you cook on a hot stone at your table. for ~30 Euros and up per entree I didn't want to risk messing it up. meal-sized salads were good though.
1. Teach Nan Phaidi (on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands) - a little restaurant in the "town" at the base of the path up to the ancient fort on Inis Mor (aka Inishmore). boyfriend and i split the beef and guiness stew and a goat cheese salad, and i had aran island crabmeat on brown bread, and all of it was really good. the victoria's sponge looked amazing but it sold out before we got it.
2. Moran's Oyster Cottage - 30 minutes drive from Galway. charming place in a thatched-roof building that's family-run going back 7 generations, w/ friendly staff. they serve fresh stuff from that area, including oysters, crab, clams and more. the food wasn't innovative or super amazing, but it was fresh and tasty and a cute spot. best dish was crab claws in garlic butter.
3. McDonagh's - lunch spot in town. its basically a fast food joint, and looks kind of dumpy, but it's supposed to be the best fish and chips spot in Galway and our fish (cod) and chips were in fact great. try having the curry sauce to dip your chips into.
4. Loam - we went for dinner. it's a casual/modern setting by a Michelin-star chef. i thought the food was really good but my boyfriend didn't, which was a shame since this was the most expensive meal of our trip.