Eating Out: Portions are as big as Leitrim, and as lovely, in Gallagher’s Boxty House

Gallagher's Boxty House on Fleet Street in Dublin's Temple Bar area
Gallagher's Boxty House on Fleet Street in Dublin's Temple Bar area

Gallagher’s Boxty House

20-21 Temple Bar,

Dublin 2

00353 1 6772762

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THERE would be little point compiling a list of the culinary heritages you’ll find competing for your attention in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Every bit as cosmopolitan as the crowds shuffling through the narrow streets hugging the Liffey in the capital’s party central are your dinner options.

And plenty of the throng seem to be choosing something they will not be having when they get home – unless home is Carrick-on-Shannon.

Gallagher’s Boxty House has been a Temple Bar staple for nearly 30 years and is top of what must be a pretty scant list of possible answers to the question: “Do you know anywhere that does great Leitrim food?”

The room feels like a particularly bright, airy pub, with big windows allowing a clear view of 17 hen and stage parties dandering past every five minutes. It’s four in the afternoon.

It’s feels thoroughly un-Irish outside, with the sun baking the cobbles of Fleet Street, which, despite its address being 'Temple Bar', is where you’ll find Gallagher’s, specialists in the potato pancake beloved in the Ridge county and up towards Fermanagh/Cavan direction.

It’s not really the day for steaming bowls of stew and piles of potato anything, but here we are and we’re not alone, with the place full, it seems, exclusively of tourists, which I suppose we are too, but everyone else sounds like they’ve come a lot further than Leitrim for their dinner.

American, Dutch, English, Canadian and Spanish voices provide some of the buzzing soundtrack with most, by the sounds of it, ordering the Irish stew, to tick it off the culinary grand tour bucket list. It comes in something only a little smaller than a bucket, and the massive portions – combined with the notoriously expensive location – mean you don’t feel quite so bad handing over €16 for a bowl.

It’s kind of a tourist trap, but oh if they only cooked as well as this in all tourist traps.

For €23 you can get the stew platter, with three big mugs of the Irish, the beef and stout and the Dublin coddle, served with a mountain of bread.

It almost kills the American woman at the next table. She seems happy enough.

The coddle is basically the national dish of the Dubs and, although the promised black pudding was actually white, it fit better with the pork sausage and hunks of ham.

The meat and spuds shared a surprisingly light broth, as fennel-ly as a Kilkenny hurling hall of fame. Which I’m sure is exactly what the Dutch fella behind us was thinking.

At its heart it’s a big ignorant bowl of stew but it’s precisely put together. It should leave you semi-comatose on a day like this, but the quality of the ingredients and the balance of their assembly means it doesn’t taste as incongruous as it might. The only way to improve it would be to have a frigid rain coming down sideways outside. It also came with two massive lumps of perfect wheaten.

The chips are very good, but completely superfluous. It’s no wonder the waitress – one of a crew of sharp, friendly servers – did a double take when we ordered them. We should have taken the hint.

In the boxty corner there are the eponymous pancakes with chicken, steak or vegetable chilli, and dumplings with roasted vegetables, ham hock or smoked salmon.

As part of a set menu for €25, including a fiver supplement, it’s wrapped round plenty of nicely cooked, pretty well-flavoured slices of fillet steak in a finely balanced whiskey, pepper and mushroom sauce. Like everything here, you get an awful lot of it.

The beetroot and goat’s cheese salad before it has had a little more thought put into it than this starter standard, with the cheese grated over different colours and textures of beet.

They also have boxty fries, a pile of deep fried strips of the pancake, crunchy and moreish and dangerous. Also, the size of Leitrim.

A Baileys cheesecake was a solid example of the type, while the boxty ice cream was definitely unique, as it claimed on the menu, it just wasn’t very nice. It was nowhere near the best vanilla ice cream I’ve had, though certainly the best I’ve had with bits of potato in it. And the worst, and the last.

And with that we emerged blinking into the sun and the international bustle of Temple Bar, safe in the knowledge that if any tourist stopped us for Leitrim restaurant recommendations, we’d have just the place.


Two-course menu €25

Boxty fries €5

Dublin coddle €16

Chunky chips €4

Baileys cheesecake €6.50

Ice cream €6.50

Irish coffee cocktail €12

Godfather cocktail €12

Coffee €3.50

Total €90.50