Just the sort of old pub advertising people dream about, this old bar looks as it must have done a hundred years ago, with its low ceilings, an ancient weathered bar and furniture and fires in winter in a big old room and then another behind.
Then it got so popular that they built on a further room, which is light and bright, with paintings on the walls and this is also for drinking and sitting while you wait for a table to become available in The Restaurant, which is beyond it again.
Why is it so popular? Because it provides just what you want: delicious, fresh, imaginative dishes served in an easygoing atmosphere, in a basic but well thought-out setting. And, while the Olde Glen changed ownership in 2013, new owner Cormac Walsh has kept everything at this much-loved destination just as it should be, and the food continues to delight.
Meat, fish and chicken all feature on a well-balanced menu and vegetarians are also catered for. There is also a specials board, which had four extra main courses on a recent visit by the Guide. The meat is local and all fish is brought in nearby. Local produce is used and is credited in many cases and the superb ingredients are well handled all the way to the table. Presentation is good without being overly elaborate and the food looks inviting.
And what might you eat? Menus are seasonal and the local lamb and beef are highly recommended; fish features strongly too - plaice, monkfish and sea bass are popular but the house cod dish (which is herb crusted and served with butter beans and a chorizo ragout) is a special favourite.
Starters could include butterfly prawns, chicken liver paté, ever popular salt and pepper squid, a baked goat’s cheese tart and smoked duck salad with a beetroot carpaccio. And do watch out especially for the organic smoked salmon from Haven Smoke House in Carrigart.
Mains like pan-fried turbot with crab butter and champ, grilled plaice with sautéed leeks, spicy crab linguini, aged sirloin from Raphoe, Silver Hill duckling or supreme of chicken, are sure to please, and all are served with good vegetables.
For dessert, apple pie, a cheesecake of the day, death by chocolate and forest fruit pavlova all feature, but the favourite is their Tunisian orange cake with spiced orange syrup and rum and raisin ice cream – gorgeous.
Surprisingly, there are no craft beers available, but the bar is otherwise a treasure. The short but adequate wine list includes three house whites and three reds (all available by the glass) and other whites include a Rioja Blanca (well worth a try) and the excellent Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. In the reds, the Beaujolais Villages 2012 could be a handy compromise for a couple choosing diverse dishes. They also feature a couple of sparkling wines and a dessert wine.
With all this, great service and good value too, it’s no wonder it’s so popular.
* Olde Glen Bar was our Pub of the Year in 2008.