This is the restaurant of choice at Glenlo Abbey - perhaps the country’s most novel dinner venue, it was our Atmospheric Restaurant of the Year in 2005: four carriages, two of them from the original Orient Express that featured in scenes from “Murder on the Orient Express”, filmed in 1974.
Adapting it to restaurant use was achieved brilliantly, with no expense spared in maintaining the special features of a luxurious train and, like the rest of the hotel, it received plenty of TLC before re-opening in 2015.
There is a lounge/bar area leading to an open dining carriage and two private ‘coupes’ compartments, each seating up to six. Background ‘clackity-clack’ and hooting noises lend an authenticity to the experience and the romance is sustained by discreetly piped music of the 1940s and 50s. The view from the windows is of a coiffeured golf course, Lough Corrib and Connemara hills in the distance.
Welcome by smart staff is pleasant, service throughout exemplary. Tables are set up as on a train, with silver cutlery, simple glassware and white linen - a fitting setting for the cooking of Head Chef Alan McArdle, who joined the hotel in April 2015, and his team. And, while the cooking may be pleasingly modern classical, there's a strong emphasis on local (and Irish) ingredients, which are showcased in named dishes and also proudly detailed in a supplier list.
Recommended as much for its unique, special occasion experience as for the fare - a visit is always enjoyable.