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Oran Mor, Glasgow (Glasgow)

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City: Glasgow

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      14.02.2009 17:27
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      Worth a visit... I hope 'they' eventually get it right.

      Oran Mór
      ********

      Oran Mór is a West end of Glasgow pub situated where Byres road crosses Great Western Road - opposite the botanical gardens. It has been built into what used to be the old Kelvinside Parish Church. Refurbishment of Kelvinside Parish church started in 2002 and Oran Mór opened it's doors on the first day of the West End festival in June 2004. It has since grown to be one of the trendiest venues in Glasgow and attracts a mixed crowd. Oran Mór is Gaelic for "Big song" or "Great melody of Life".

      Oran Mór is a massive building housing two restaurants, a whisky bar, a lounge bar, a nightclub, a ballroom and a private dining room. It is the only bar in the West end to stay open till two o'clock in the Morning every night of the week. It is owned by a man called Colin Beattie who owns several Glasgow pubs including another successful Whisky bar - Ben Nevis.


      --The Whisky Bar and Lounge Bar--

      When Oran Mór originally opened its doors these two bars were priced differently, this seemed odd because in actual fact they are exactly the same bar but face different sides of the room. Traditionally, bars have the two sides - public bar and lounge bar and usually led into different rooms, but in the case of Oran Mór the bar is an island in the centre of a large room. This scheme didn't last long! Especially when customers started to realise that the whisky side was ten pence cheaper!!

      With a selection of around 150 Whiskies there is plenty of choice for the connoisseur, ranging from the malt of the moment at £1.50, which changes every month, to whisky that you can expect to pay over £20 for a nip! The collection is ever-growing with whiskies from Wales, Japan, Canada, America and of course Scotland.

      There is a large choice of drafts beers; Miller, Fosters, Kronenbourg, San Miguel, Baltika, John Smiths, Mcewans 80/-, Guinness, Kronenbourg Blanc, Deuchars IPA, 3 guest real ales and Strongbow cider.

      Bar food is served everyday until nine and includes most of the Scottish classics; Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Cullen Skink and Smoked Salmon to name but a few.

      The main problem with this bar is that there is no music and lacks atmosphere. Unless there is a special event or a Scottish jam session in the corner, the only thing to listen to is the banter of your friends and the bar staff! It's a shame because it has lots of potential but the wrong people in charge. It's not particularly cheap either, averaging around £3 for a pint. Another point is that you can't have your kids in here - strictly 18 and over.


      --The Brasserie Restaurant--

      The Brasserie is the "posh" area of Oran Mór, where the best food is served with the finest drinks. Originally this bar was going to be a cocktail bar and restaurant but it was quickly realised that the West End of Glasgow didn't need another cocktail bar. The menu is constantly changing, using as much as possible Scottish ingredients. Currently a three course meal costs around thirty pounds per head and is generally worth the money as the food is of a consistently high quality and the staff are very good. Children are welcome in here.


      --The Auditorium--

      This is by far the most impressive room in the building. It is a vast ballroom with an overlooking gallery, original stained glass windows and mural ceiling by Alasdair Gray. The first thing you notice about this room is the ceiling - it's amazing. Alasdair Gray is a fantastic artist and writer who has written several plays and books.

      Oran Mór has a full wedding license allowing couples to marry in the church. In July of 2005 Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg married Maureen McCann and had their reception in this amazing room. If you're considering having your wedding or reception here I'd consult the bank manager first...

      The Auditorium has been used for many different things; fashion shows, casino nights, acoustic gigs, weddings, conferences, themed parties, graduations, ceilidhs... Personally I think it's a brilliant venue for a ceilidh. Set up the band on the stage and dance the night away to some Scottish music in a Scottish setting! And bring the kids, it's all good in the auditorium!
      The only real problem with the auditorium is the size of the bar. It's pretty small! If you are at a graduation, or a big party with hundreds of people, it is rather tricky working your way up there... When you eventually make it to the bar you will notice the prices, averaging upwards of three pounds for a pint!


      --The Conservatory Restaurant--

      The conservatory was built on to the side of the building and has a huge window overlooking Byres road. It's on the same level as the main bar area and joins through some curtains. The menu is identical to the bar menu but the conservatory makes your meal a little more private and is ideal for larger groups who all want to sit together.

      A meal in the Conservatory (or Bar) will cost around four pounds for a starter, nine pounds for a main course and three pounds for a pudding! Add a bottle of wine at twelve pounds and there you are! You can't have your kids in here though.


      --The Private Dining Room--

      When you go into the Private Dining Room it's like entering a gentleman's club. Big comfy red leather chairs, a vast dining table, beautiful wooden floors and a nice little bar. With private entrance via a lift this room is ideal for private functions, meetings and the like. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) have had meetings here as well as birthday parties, small wedding receptions and anniversaries.

      This room has to be booked beforehand as it is private and not open to just have a look. Although rumour has it that this will be part of the brasserie restaurant soon.

      The only problem with the PDR is the fact that it's quite small, it's suitable for groups of forty or less but I probably wouldn't have more than thirty people in there.


      --The Venue Nightclub--

      Past gigs in the venue have included Jose Gonzalez and Maceo Parker. The nightclub is open most nights, Friday and Saturday are the big nights that attract the biggest crowds. It costs eight whole pounds to get in on a Friday or Saturday which is ridiculous! But anywhere that doesn't let me in for free is ridiculous in my books (scummy student...)! The venue is more expensive than the bar, again averaging upwards of three pounds for a pint unless you go on a Sunday or a Thursday when there are cheap drinks promotions at £1.50.

      The Venue also plays host to the highly successful "Play, Pie and a Pint" where during lunch hour a small play s put on, typically around forty minutes, and each customer watches the play whilst enjoying a pie and pint. All for a tenner. At first I was sceptical as to whether or not it would be worth going to see, but it soon attracted a lot of attention, especially with big names like Robbie Coltrane writing and performing in plays. The Evening times, a Glasgow newspaper, and Orange sponsor the event, allowing everyone with an Orange phone to purchase tickets "buy one get one free" on Wednesdays. The shows run every day bar Sunday and the Saturday show is particularly popular with as many as 250 people coming to see the play. The play changes each week, with different writers, cast and set there is going to be something for everyone!

      Downsides - eight pounds to get in! It closes at the same time as the bar, 2am. To some people this could be a blessing in disguise getting them in bed an hour earlier but I think most people prefer the extra hour most clubs offer. Also Bobbie Bluebell. He is the DJ. Does everyone remember a song called "Young at Heart" by Bobbie and the Bluebells? Well this is the man himself and he likes his cheesy music! So be prepared for a night of the finest cheese. Funnily enough children aren't allowed in the club, strictly 18 and over!


      --Conclusions...--

      All in all, what do I think of Oran Mór?? Personally I'm really not a fan but I do have to say that it is a fascinating building! It's a church for one! It is heavily orientated around Scotland, in keeping with all of the other bars that Colin Beattie owns and there is always something happening (gigs, plays, charity events, etc.)

      It does have plenty of downsides - no music in the main bar, it's somewhat overpriced and on the weekends is very, very busy. There is so much potential and with the right people could be the ultimate Glasgow venue. I'd say that it's worth a visit, even if you just want to have a gander at the Whisky collection and the Auditorium ceiling but I wouldn't make it a regular affair. I really hope that one day they see the real value in Oran Mór and thurn it into the venue that the building deserves.

      Generally the staff are very good. Mostly helpful and efficient which is all good in a bar! It's especially difficult working on the busy Friday and Saturday nights so it's nice to know that the staff are usually on the ball and get you served as quickly as possible.

      It's especially nice in the summer when you can sit out in the beer garden watching the world roll by, though if you know anything about Glasgow you'll know that it's usually wet...

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