The closest I’ll ever get to Laurence Olivier is a very unique dining experience at Glenlo Abbey. The star of my favourite version of my favourite book by Emily Bronte, “Wuthering Heights” (it feels like they invented the word brooding for the way he played the leading role of Heathcliff) used to take The Pullman Carriage on its Brighton run which saw it carry actors from London’s West End to tread the Brighton boards.
The Pullman Carriage, now happily stationed at Gleno in Galway, was built in 1927 where it went on its glamorous Russia, Monaco and Istanbul routes. You might also recognise it from “Murder on the Orient Express”, the 1974 Agatha Christie film. It was also used during World War II by Sir Winston Churchill and his family. In fact its last journey was in 1965 taking Churchill’s remains and funeral cortege back near Blenheim Palace where he would be buried.
This is a very special kind of dining experience. There is something about getting on board a piece of history, being greeted and shown to your own private carriage complete with tiny perfect lamps and starched white linen tablecloth that makes it the kind of place you could either fall in love with someone all over again or probably propose to the waiter. Thankfully, for him, my friend and I’s host was happily married.
Their set menu sings with creative cooking with local ingredients. Each course was nicely paced and there is the kind of atmosphere that makes you think Lauren Bacall will appear at any moment. At first it feels like the piped in “choo choo” sounds and the heady mix of crooner music from Dino and Frank will be a little too much cheese, but once embraced, the warm and gorgeous glimmers of light on the burgundy interiors makes it all feel very special.
Highlights for dinner were the scallop starter and the rabbit main course. The rhubarb dessert was an excellent balance of sweet meringue with a nice tart slash of rhubarb to refresh the palette, and our full tummies. The staff was excellent from everything from check in to breakfast the next morning. I’d highly recommend booking into Glenlo afterwards for the night as this was my only quibble with The Pullman, I never wanted to leave the cosy atmosphere of the carriage, and sadly they don’t offer any such thing as an Olivier overnight carriage.
Menu at The Pullman, Glenlo Abbey, County Galway