Belfast Telegraph

Parker Bowles toasts terrific trio of Northern Ireland pubs

Camilla's son praises Toome and Belfast bars

By Ivan Little

Prince Charles' stepson, Tom Parker Bowles, has raised a glass to three pubs he's named in his top 10 "cosiest" bars here and in Scotland.

The establishments selected by the award-winning food and drink writer are among the oldest bars on the island of Ireland.

Included in his choices in a magazine survey is the Crosskeys Inn, near Toome, which he said was Ireland's oldest thatched pub - built in 1654 - and which he praised for its live music, peat fires, good Guinness, endless antiques and the occasional eel dinner made from animals caught in nearby Lough Neagh.

Mr Parker Bowles advised readers to "settle in for a good session" and said he enjoyed the pub's Irish stew, which costs just £7.95.

Next on his list was the Crown Liquor Saloon, on Belfast's Great Victoria Street.

Mr Parker Bowles described the establishment as a "glorious Victoria gin palace".

He said the bar was a classic that had it all - "elaborate tiling, stained glass, mosaic floor and masses of carved wood".

He added: "Despite its size, the Crown somehow manages to remain cosy.

"You'll find well-kept cask ales (Nicholson's Pale Ale), and, like in all Nicholson's pubs, decent chops and sausages.

"But go for the atmosphere, that is as intoxicating as it is inspiring."

His food of choice at the Crown was its scampi and chips, priced at £9.75.

Mr Parker Bowles had bittersweet words for his third choice - Kelly's Cellars, on Belfast's Bank Street.

"It might not be the most elegant of Belfast's many pubs, but Kelly's Cellars (often known as Smelly Kelly's), is one of the oldest, built in 1720," he wrote.

"The walls are whitewashed, the floors uneven, but there's an open fire, good ale and usually a singalong or two.

"Plus, it's a famed music venue with an ever-revolving cast of guest bands.

For food, the writer opted for the pub's beef stew, costing £3.95.

Another food and drink expert, Olly Smith, also chose his personal top spots.

Only one Northern Irish pub found its way into his top 10 of bars here and in Scotland.

That was White's Tavern in Belfast's Winetavern Street, where drink has been flowing since 1630.

"It wasn't that long ago that I swung by after hosting a wine event locally, and the range of bottles behind the bar is impressive, especially if whiskey is your thing," Mr Smith wrote.

His top tipple was a large glass of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, priced at £3.70.

Belfast Telegraph

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