The Pullman Restaurant review. Disclaimer: I was a guest of the venue and did not pay for the meal. However, what follows is an honest review and account of my experience. I dined here in June, 2016.
You don’t need to travel to Istanbul, Paris or Vienna to enjoy a memorable experience onboard the famous Orient Express. You can do so right here in Ireland.
Situated on the grounds of the five-star Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway are two original carriages from the Orient Express, which used to travel around Europe in the first part of the twentieth century.
The carriages now make up the Pullman Restaurant.
Apart from transporting the rich and fabulous around Europe, Sir Winston Churchill travelled in the train. In fact, its last journey was on January 30, 1965. The train carried Churchill’s body from London to its final resting place in Oxfordshire.
But that wasn’t the end of the train’s service. In 1974, The Pullman played a starring role in the Agatha Christie film ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.
So as you can see, this is no ordinary setting for a restaurant.
When you enter the Pullman Restaurant you first must pass the carved regal lions that guard the entrance. Then you had over your first-class ticket to the conductor. Then you step onboard and step back in time.
The carriages are exquisitely restored. You dine surrounded by carved wood panelling, lacquered curved ceilings, plush Fleur De Lis carpet and polished brass. Antique lace curtains and drapes adorn the windows that look out over Lough Corrib and beyond to the Connemara hills.
You sit in the original armchair seats at the original dining tables. The tables are small but it just makes for a very cosy meal and encourages easy conversation. The whole experience is elegant with a relaxed and warm ambience. Whilst the surroundings are posh dining at the Pullman Restaurant never feels stuffy.
But what is a fabulous setting for a meal if the food isn’t up to scratch? Well, having recently received the prestigious second AA rosette, the food in the Pullman Restaurant certainly matches its graceful surrounds.
The Pullman Restaurant serves an à la carte dinner each evening from April to October and at weekends throughout winter months. However, check the Glenlo Abbey Hotel website as there are special dining events in the Pullman Restaurant throughout the year.
I attended an afternoon tea event.
However, afternoon tea is now served in the beautiful River Room Restaurant in the Glenlo Abbey Hotel.
The afternoon tea was exceptional. It arrived out on a three-tier curate stand and the tea and coffee were poured from silver teapots into delicate bone china cups, as it should be. It was a charming celebration of the traditional afternoon tea ritual.
The bottom tier was a rich savoury offering of chicken liver foie gras mousse on brioche served with matcha and quince. There was Connemara smoked salmon with caper watercress on soft brown soda bread. We also had a perfectly executed croque-monsieur with truffle on toasted white bread with a fried quail egg on top. There was also a very flavourful Galway goat farm cheese with beetroot and walnut on fresh sourdough. The savoury tier was a creative and tasty marriage of classic flavours with a contemporary kick.
The sweet middle tier was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. It was decorated with bright delights such as delicate elderflower and vanilla eclairs, rosewater and raspberry tarts that burst with flavour, soft lemon balm drizzle cakes that melted in the mouth, popcorn macaroons that dissolved on the tongue and rich and decadent chocolate and Guinness cakes with Bailey’s buttercream. The sweet tier had it all – fresh berries, cream, cake, pastry, chocolate, booze – and was perfectly presented in one faultless package.
And what is afternoon tea without scones?
You all know I am a bit of a scone addict. Well, on the Pullman Restaurant I was spoiled for choice. There were plain and fruit scones dusted with icing sugar and served with decadent clotted cream and Kylemore Abbey strawberry preserve. These were warm and fluffy with a lovely buttery finish.
All of these savoury and sweet treats were severed with a handpicked selection of tea and coffee.
The afternoon tea that is now served in the River Room restaurant in the Glenlo Abbey Hotel is very similar to the one I had onboard the Pullman Restaurant.
The whole experience left me not only stuffed and on a sugar high but also enamoured by the charms and romance of the Orient Express and the Pullman Restaurant.
The Pullman Restaurant wasn’t clichéd it was charming. The food was perfectly prepared and presented and tasted marvellous with a whole array of complementary flavours and contrasting textures. Both the dining experience in the Pullman Restaurant and the afternoon tea were very memorable and I would wholeheartedly recommend booking either one or both.
In fact, there is a very special dining experience available to book now that coincides in with the launch of Murder on the Orient Express starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kenneth Branagh. You can stay overnight and enjoy dinner aboard the Pullman Restaurant and a screening of the original Murder on the Orient Express in the intimate and plush, Abbey Movie Theatre followed by breakfast the next morning. And sure, whilst you are there you may as well book in for afternoon tea, too. Go on, treat yourself. You won’t regret it.
“Thanks for reading”
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