The Last Stop: The Railway Tavern is back on track!

The inside of the Railway Tavern bar in Fahan.
The inside of the Railway Tavern bar in Fahan.

IT'S NOT OFTEN a hotel encourages its guests to escape from its facilities but the Redcastle Hotel is making clever use of its close connections with the revamped Railway Tavern to ensure a unique getaway experience which is certain to whet your appetite.

If you're looking for a luxurious getaway on the shores of Lough Foyle combined with top class, authentic food in a warm, historic setting, then make the Railway Tavern's exciting new package your 'Last Stop' when planning that perfect New Year overnight stay.

The Railway Tavern is renown for its top quality steak dishes.

The Railway Tavern is renown for its top quality steak dishes.

The famous Railway Tavern in Fahan, Co. Donegal has been newly renovated and proved it's back on track following the introduction of three delicious new menus under Head Chef, Chris Fitzpatrick who brings a wealth of experience and a variety of imaginative dishes.

Recently purchased by Harcourt Developments, owners of such esteemed tourism and hospitality initiatives as Titanic Belfast and Lough Eske Castle, there is a palpable excitement to be felt around the Railway Tavern as it enters a new phase of its development.

And to coincide the launch of its new menus, the Railway Tavern has teamed up with its sister property, The Redcastle Oceanfront Golf & Spa Hotel (to give it its full title) in offering a fabulously priced 'Last Stop' overnight package which includes bed and breakfast, transport to and from the Railway Tavern and a three course meal. An added bonus is the E10 per person spa vouchers to be used on site.

Following extensive fire damage in 2018 the Tavern has undergone an immaculate restoration job. Cosy, warm and welcoming, it has many of the original features of its former existence, including its open peat fire and it retains every bit of its charm with a little extra to boot!

The famous open fire grill at the Railway Tavern.

The famous open fire grill at the Railway Tavern.

It's a venue steeped in a long tradition of hospitality and fantastic food and it certainly hasn't lost any of its character with its many nooks and crannies and dining tables and booths nestled among memorabilia from the old Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway Company (L&LSR).

The Tavern, which offers a unique trip back in time, is the perfect setting for intimate gatherings, a quiet pint or a meal for all the family, young and old and for any occasion and the 'Last Stop' package will certainly prove a big hit given it's exceptional value for money. It's the perfect way to unwind and treat yourself after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays!

My wife, Orla and I were fortunate enough to be among the first to experience the offer just before Christmas and having checked in at the Redcastle Hotel, we had plenty of time to unwind before our taxi promptly arrived to take us on a short journey to Fahan which takes an estimated 20 minutes ahead of our 7.30p.m. dinner reservation.

After a day lounging about the hotel which has plenty to offer itself with its fantastic spa, gym and picturesque nine-hole seaside golf course, it's a nice opportunity to get out and about and get a real taste of Inishowen.

The spicy chicken wings dish is a 'must have' starter at the Railway Tavern

The spicy chicken wings dish is a 'must have' starter at the Railway Tavern

Upon arrival at the Railway Tavern, which is steeped in history dating back to the late 1800s, the first thing you notice is the welcoming open fire at the back of the bar which leads into the intimate restaurant space.

You don't have to be a train enthusiast to appreciate the history on show here but the decor and many intriguing pictures on the walls in the dimly lit bar and restaurant offer a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. It remains filled with character and the echoes of so many past visitors who would've made use of the “Swilly Line” as it was affectionately named, bringing people on excursions from Derry to Fahan and on to Buncrana for swimming, golf, beach walks and for a day out.

In early September 1864, the L&LSR opened the new railway line connection from Derry to Buncrana, and Fahan saw its first scheduled passenger and freight service. Steam locomotives were used on the railway right through until the end of service on August 8th, 1953. The coal fireboxes of the locomotives provided the cooking heat for the engineers’ snacks and tea breaks.

And one of the finest features of the old Station House remains at the centre of the Tavern's restaurant, the open grill fire, as patrons get to watch the chef prepare their steak or burger which gets the mouth watering and adds to the anticipation of the meal.

The booths at the Railway Tavern is a throwback to the old carriages on the old Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway Company.

The booths at the Railway Tavern is a throwback to the old carriages on the old Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway Company.

Expect a warm welcome and enjoy the informality and friendliness from the staff, teamed with efficiency and smart service from start to finish in a comfortable setting with some traditional 'live' music adding to the ambience.

While we waited on our table I opted for a pint of Guinness which has to be one of the finest in the north west. When escorted to our table we were faced with the difficulty of choosing from the fantastic array of dishes on the a la carte menu. Even the menu offers a reference to the venue's unique past as you select from the 'First Stop' starters and then go 'Full Steam Ahead' with the main courses.

For starters I went for the seafood chowder in lemon oil with the tasty Guinness bread and it was simply delicious. So much flavour from locally sourced ingredients, it was the perfect choice and I couldn't wait for more.

The portions were more than generous and, as a treat, we even got to sample the spicy chicken wings and the tomato, roast pepper and garlic bruschetta which were equally as tasty while my better half went for the pan fried Greencastle scallops with black pudding which, she assured me, combined perfectly with the apple and watercress. Adding a little seafood into your diet here is well rewarded!

The head chef, Mr Fitzpatrick. is known for his flair and overall passion for good food and the overall quality of the food was superb throughout.

For my main course there was only ever going to be one option. Steak isn't a dish, it's an institution at the Railway Tavern and I ordered the fillet with whiskey peppercorn sauce and chunky chips. The Railway Tavern uses the same suppliers for their famous steak as its sister property, The Lough Eske Castle - evidence of its quality and again its use of the finest local produce.

It certainly didn't disappoint and the huge, succulent portion of steak was a bonus. There's no faffing or fussing with a good steak and you can even have a chat with the chef while watching him cook it to perfection. It's just damned good steak! The renowned 'Stationmaster Burger' is also expertly cooked on the open fire grill which adds to the theatre of the meal.

If steak isn't your thing, then one of the three available menus, the A La Carte, Winter Warmer and Surf and Turf, have all been expanded and enhanced while there's plenty of fresh seafood options, delicious vegetarian dishes while the Tandori Chicken Tortilla or the Supreme of Irish Chicken are top class for the chicken lovers.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays the Tavern offers its Surf or Turf night where you can enjoy a steak or fish dish plus a glass of wine or beer for only £23.95!

The beauty of the Last Stop package is you don't have to worry if you've had one too many glasses of wine or been excessive with the quality guinness, as once you've decided you've had your fill and want to return to the comfort of your hotel room or end your night in the residents bar, a taxi awaits to take you back to the lovely surroundings of the Redcastle Hotel - all included in the reasonable price from €169.00 per couple!

So if you're planning a short midweek escape combined with some of the finest, authentic food in Inishowen, then take full advantage of this magnificent offer which will no doubt stop you in your tracks.

Make the Railway Tavern your last stop!