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“Slow pace, pleasant service, nice restaurant”

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The Old Schoolhouse Inn
Ranked #1 of 2 Comber B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 22, 2013

We had Sunday lunch at this restaurant near Comber. The setting is splendid, just beside Castle Espie Bird Sanctuary and, clearly, in an old schoolhouse building. The welcome was very pleasant and the service throughout attentive and discreet. The restaurant was perhaps a little spartan. That day was really sunny and we had a problem with the sun blazing through the unprotected windows, making us move around the table every so often to get a little shade - they really need to invest in some window coverings to avoid this happening. The food was generally speaking excellent although my beef was seriously overcooked (in spite of the "100 lines" on the blackboard saying that the chef must not overcook the beef). Apologies were given and accepted. All in all, an enjoyable meal.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Thank Sisyphus1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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172 - 178 of 236 reviews

Reviewed October 22, 2013

This is a review of the restaurant, not the accommodation. Friday lunch for four in a largely empty room -only one other table was occupied. We chose from the set lunch menu and had chicken or hake. Both mains were beautifully presented and full of interesting flavours. For dessert to follow we had creme brulée with raspberry foam or a selection of ice cream, again with unusual flavours. The food was delightful and the service excellent. Two suggestions: provide seat pads on the rather uncomfortable wooden chairs; and offer a wider selection of main courses on the prix fixe. And spread the word - this place should be full at Friday lunchtime.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Thank Twinkle436
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 12, 2013

Went here for lunch with two friends yesterday, our first visit, we found the welcome, surroundings, restaurant and the food to be outstanding. Gareth's service and Will's food were memorable and it is our intention to return possibly staying overnight in order that we can enjoy even more the food and wine.

Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank Trevor H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2013

You know the trip was worthwhile when you spend the entire journey home again talking about the lunch you just had.

It's 21 years since I was last here and boy has it changed, physically. It was always good, Avril Brown had a reputation for bloody good food and bloody good food was what she delivered. Day in, day out. It's now evolved into being more of its time and although the decor wouldn't be to everyone's taste, although. I can't really find fault with it whatsoever, it's just different to what it was. It's moved on. It's 21st Century.

Seemingly Avril's ethos has passed down to her son tenfold. And then some.

A bloody reasonably priced lunch menu, working out around the £17 mark if you go for the full three courses and the most expensive options, (although they're far from expensive in the scheme of things) and a separate la carte menu that won't set you back more than around the £38 for three courses.

If you fall into the 80%+ of Norn Iron diners who judge a meal by how stuffed they feel after eating and insist on ordering a plethora of potato options as 'free' side orders, not knowing whether to eat or climb their meal when it finally arrives, then this place isn't for you at all. Thank God.

What do you get is genuine skill, knowledge and a desire to ensure that everything on the plate works. And works very well. The food's not trying to be clever, it isn't trying to dazzle you with science, it's just done as it should be done. Each dish we sampled was created from the ground up. There was no room for error. We got the impression that (and rightly so) each dish had been tried, tested, adjusted, tried again and then it was allowed on the menu. Without even knowing there was a mention of MPW on the Chef's CV, two of my courses had him written all over it. Memories of him at Harvey's in the early 90s came a flooodin' back...

To me and actually to both of us, we can't think of anywhere in the North that can hold a candle to this. It's somewhere we both intend to visit again and again. It was simply magical cooking. For me in particular, being a nightmare to dine out with, this was, as the title suggests, simply peerless and I wish both Will and his team the success they so rightfully deserve.

Stunning. Simply stunning. 11/10

Stayed: October 2013, traveled with family
1  Thank postcode70
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

A warm welcome despite our very late arrival (1115pm) and the staff were more than happy to serve us a couple of drinks as well. The rooms were clean,warm and comfortable followed by an excellent breakfast in the morning.
The bathrooms were an excellent size with nice toiletries(sp), my only tiny criticism is that the showers were not very powerful but was told by friends who live in the area that it is possible that the water pressure was not very good.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Issey2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2013

Dinner with good friends on a Saturday night is always a treat but last night's meal at Will Brown's Schoolhouse was exceptional. Thought has been given to the interiors, simple and warm while retaining the most interesting features of the building. The atmosphere is buzzy without that dreadful 'jazz mood' music the city restaurants seem to favour. The staff were very welcoming and just on the right side of attentive without being fussy. We had a special menu request which was handled with accommodating grace. But the food here is the real hero. Will Brown is clearly a talent to watch. Sumptuous flavours expertly combined and food that though beautifully presented is clearly meant to be eaten and enjoyed. Portion sizes were right on the money. Two gents with healthy appetites were very satisfied after 3 courses. One suggestion might be to give the wine list a little care and attention, but that seems picky after a fantastic experience. Already dreaming up reasons for a return visit.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Service
Thank Gill_Col
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2013

Was here just after re opening back in June with my Son for Sunday Lunch. It is a great venue for Sunday lunch, especially during the summer. Drinks on the terrace relaxes you for a lovely meal inside.

The new decor is A1 nice big tables and minimalist decor, but tastefully done. The food is as good as anywhere in Northern Ireland, thoughtful plates with consideration as to the ingredients coming together. They were accommodating to by 8 year old son, cooking him things he liked. From memory I had a lovely fish dish and the fish was perfectly cooked.

I would agree with recent criticisms about staffing issues, when you could see them the staff were pleasant and accommodating, attracting their attention was hard though. Maybe because the bar area where they congregated only allowed them to see a certain amount of tables. Their comprehension of the wines and what they were fell woefully short of a professional standard. I do hope things like that do not stop Will Brown get the accolades he will undoubtedly deserve in the future. Wine list was I think being reworked, but what was there presently was well priced. From a personal point of view a few more off the wall wines would be nice, but I understand they are harder to sell. But again that comes down to staff training.

As ever I will always return to this restaurant as it is top quality food with a lovely relaxing atmosphere to enjoy it in. Places like this are always a pleasure to come to and offer exceptional value for money.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Thank Sean H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Old Schoolhouse Inn

Address: 100 Ballydrain Road | Castle Espie, Comber BT23 6EA, Northern Ireland
Location: United Kingdom > Northern Ireland > County Down > Comber
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 B&Bs / Inns in Comber
Price Range: $100 - $135 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — The Old Schoolhouse Inn 4*
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A little piece of Heaven situated by the shores of Strangford Lough in an area of outstanding beauty. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Old Schoolhouse Inn Comber, Northern Ireland

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