The pristine country town pub with a great welcome, nice drinks, and lovely food. It’s what we all want, and what we search for on our travels, from The Snug in Bantry to The Tavern in Murrisk.
And that’s why we are here, in little Craughwell, about 25kms west of the city in County Galway, parking the car in the car park of Raftery’s Bar.
The bar has been in the hands of the Raftery family for four generations, and the family have maintained the pub with fastidious care all that time: it’s a place where everything gleams.
But what shines brightest is the cooking. Rachel Raftery and her team are pernicity with their food, and it shows. Dishes that have become clichés elsewhere – seafood chowder, or smoked salmon salad would be two prime examples – are cooked here with precision and attention to detail. And it’s not just the chowder that is excellent: its accompanying brown bread is also right on the money. It’s also reassuring to be told that the smoked salmon and prawn salad isn’t available, because they don’t have prawns. But even without the shellfish the dish is a joyous potpourri of good fish and lovely leaves and fresh salads and properly cooked egg.
A beef and vegetable pie with puff pastry topping comes with scoops of excellent mash, and carrots and turnips, and it’s all good, the ideal sort of country dinner for someone with a good appetite, a real solid-sender of a dish.
You can summarise why this food works in a single word: care. Care in the sourcing of the ingredients, care in the cooking of those ingredients, and care that the customer should have a delicious and enjoyable experience, whether you are having a steak burger with bacon and cheese and a glass of Galway Hooker for Sunday lunch, or trying the bacon and cabbage with parsley sauce. At a time when so much pub grub is freezer-to-microwave rubbish, a destination like Raftery’s not only sates your appetite, it lifts your spirits.
Craughwell, Co Galway rafterysbar.ie