First of all I'm basing this review on the quality and value for money of the food. Aesthetically the bar is quaint and the Guinness is good so if you are looking for a place for a few pints in Roundstone of an evening, you could do worse than O'Dowds.
I think the first time I was there was about 1994 when I was in my early 20's and it made a positive impression that stayed with me. It's a place which fames itself on its chowder and it has become somewhat of an annual ritual for myself and the wife to pop into this place for some grub every year we venture down to Connemara. Unfortunately, I've noticed a bit of a steady decline in the food over the past few years.
This year my sister was in tow and between the three of us we manage to spend almost €90 on starter portions of chowder, crab claws and stuffed oysters. There was also a sandwich ordered, a pint of guinness, two soft drinks, 3 desserts and 3 coffees. So that's nearly €30 a head on starters, drinks, desserts and coffee and a sandwich thrown in for good measure. Not good value for money in my book.
To be honest, I could live with the cost if the food was good, but alas it wasn't. The chowder which I ordered is not as it used to be. It consisted of three pieces of fish floating in a rather pedestrian broth. My sister ordered the crab claws and what the butter lacked in garlic flavour, it certainly made up for it with copious amounts of thyme! The exact same butter was used in the stuffed oysters. We could taste neither crab nor oyster, only thyme.
Now I accept that some shell fish can be served in garlic thyme butter (although to be fair I had to look that up as I never came across it a restaurant) but I for one am of the view that they make strange bedfellows. The thyme was overpowering and between myself and the sis, we had that taste in our mouths all day and all evening. It's not that I want to criticise for the sake of it or to dictate what should or should not be on a menu but in my view if a menu says " ..served with garlic butter", it should be garlic, butter, possibly parsley for garnish, a wedge of lemon and leave it at that. No complaints on the sandwich and the desserts were ok.
The waiting staff are pleasant and on the ball.
I don't know if things are going to improve there. It maybe the case that they are coasting on the reputation they have had for such a long time. If I hear things get better from our friends who also go down that part of the country, we will be back. I fear we will be staying away for the foreseeable future however.
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