PUB OF THE YEAR: The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn
Van the Man has been known to whet his whistle here, as well as Snow Patrol’s frontman Gary Lightbody — so if it’s good enough for them
The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn is the oldest hotel in Ireland — being more than 400 years old, it really does deserve the title. Set in the picturesque village of Crawfordsburn, the pub in The Old Inn is rather charming with centuries of history sitting snugly under the thatched roof.
In 1983 Danny Rice took over the establishment and it’s now very much a family-run business.
Sales director Garvan Rice moved home from England eight months ago to work alongside his dad and brother and he told Sunday Life that they have the perfect mix.
He said: “We’re far enough outside Belfast to make it a bit special, yet close enough to the seaside town of Bangor and we’ve a beautiful location with the natural waterfall out the back.
“We try to keep the traditional feel in an exclusive environment with excellent food and brilliant staff — many of whom have been with us more than 20 years. It’s important to us to support local producers and farmers. We use raw materials, from Portavogie seafood to Finnebrogue venison, and always work with our suppliers to get the best deals possible.
“There are very few venues in Northern Ireland that do the same standard of food as us at this volume and price. We’ve two AA rosettes and are working on getting our third.”
Billy Carter, an actor currently performing in the West End, is originally from Bangor. He was catching up with his sister Ann McDowell for the weekend. He said: “I hadn’t been in here in a good while but was looking forward to it. The food is great, the service is superb and you’ve these beautiful surroundings.
“Also they’ve a great wee deal on at the moment — it’s £10 for a two course meal and a glass of wine between 3-6pm.”
Ballynahinch man Ian Pollock thought he’d treat the family for the day. He said: “They’re very family-friendly here and make the children feel so welcome. The food is excellent but if you ask them to modify the menu slightly for the kids they’ll do it, no problem.”
Having travelled across the globe, Aussie Louise Skelton was enjoying a Guinness with her Bangor-born husband Alan.
“In Sydney the pubs aren’t like this at all. This is like chilling in your own loungebut a bit nicer,” she laughed. “And, of course, they do great Guinness."
My only complaint is the car park is very tight and I ended up climbing out the passenger door! Hopefully next time I visit, I’ll get to sample the food that everyone raved about and won’t be driving, therefore I won’t have to negotiate the car park, can enjoy a pint and keep an eye out for Mr Lightbody!