We arrived into The Universal in Galway's trendy and bohemian Westend absolutely ravenous after the journey from Dublin to the wild Wesht.
The atmosphere in The Universal washes over you immediately upon entering. It is undeniably chill and utterly content.
People inhaling plates of carefully prepared food and washing it all down with bespoke cocktails and craft beers.
I'm totally biased when I say that Galway is dense with excellent bars and restaurants and that you'll never be stuck for a great feed and beverage.
But there's no denying that The Universal are doing something totally special and new and we can't stop thinking about it.
Since opening in October 2016, The Universal has established itself as the kick-back spot of choice among style-savvy, drinks-literate and food-informed folk for whom having a playful streak and sense of good food and artisanal, seasonal drinks is as important.
That there is a confident and highly creative team behind the venue is clear from the moment you step inside and see the polished retro-glam, 1970s-inspired, lounge-style interior.
These are people with a clear sense of playfulness and fun, too, going by the offbeat wall art and sleek-meets-thrift décor mash-up.
This mix of seriousness and playfulness is evident, too, in the cocktail menu.
They've a range of fun, Irish-influenced cocktails alongside a simple selection of classics, such as a Gin Smash, Old Fashioned and Southside.
The Gin Smash is possibly one of the best cocktails I've ever ingested. Simple but absolutely divine. If you love basil then this will be your dream drink.
Where the magic happens...
The kitchen is manned by chef Paul Lewis, who did stints in Café Paradiso, the Ivory Tower and Jacob’s on the Mall all in Cork, before taking on the role of head chef at Cork’s Boqueria and then opening up his own bar and restaurant, An Cruibin - The Silk Purse, also in Cork.
A succinct list of highly creative, global-inspired sharing plates make up the food menu, with Mediterranean, South American, Asian and North African influences all present, and with Japanese, Mexican and Iberian flavours to the fore.
You can expect the following: Crispy Squid Tentacles With Misonaisse; Tigres (stuffed mussels); Tomato & Anchovy Toasts; Hot ‘N’ Sour Soup with Shrimp & Mushroom Dumplings; Fresh Goat Cheese, Jalapenos & Corn Pancakes with Guacamole; Monkfish Yakisoba with Rhubarb & Mustard Maki Roll; Hake with Salsa Verde, White Beans, Tomato, Olives & Roast Peppers; Chump Steak Teriyaki, Asiatic Greens, Sticky rice & Togarashi.
And don't even get me started on their pickle plate because I've been grieving the fact that I can't enjoy it morning, noon and night ever since tasting its pickled offerings.
Our favourite dish on the menu, bar the pickles obviously, was the monkfish maki.
We just wish that we'd ordered more of it.
Other aesthetically photographed dishes for you to drool over:
Hot and sour dumpling soup:
Black and white pudding, potato & kale hash
Fresh goat cheese and jalapeño corn pancakes with guacamole
Crispy squid tentacles
Well, what are you waiting for? Haul ass to Galway's Westend right this second.
You can find The Universal at 9 William Street West, Galway.