When I first moved into Raleigh, the Hibernian Pub on S. Glenwood was my GoTo bar for a beer or cocktail and idle conversation. This Raleigh stalwart had really been key to the re-development of S. Glenwood and it was always a convenient place to hang out at. A fire at the end of 2012 left the place in shambles but owner Niall Hanley was committed to rebuilding the Hibernian, bigger and better than ever. And did he succeed? Well my friend, I’d have to say yes after my first visit. And maybe a bit more.
From the outside the changes are obvious. While there are hints of the old Hibernian in terms of signage, the primary color has changed from green to a deep red and there are these female figures hanging off the front of the building as architectural sculptures. Stepping inside, the first floor retains most of its original space outside of the wide staircase headed upstairs. The place feels sort of familiar in terms of layout but the new look for the Hibernian is much richer with painted, metal-stamped ceiling, richer woodwork, crimson red padded booths and knick-knacks galore. Upstairs the Hibernian has a small bar along with a library-study area. Not in terms of what you do up there but in terms of how it looks! And the rooftop patio is an L-shaped area with a nice view of S. Glenwood. I’m not sure if the Hibernian will be doing any of its sidewalk tables once the weather warms up.
Even with all the new space, I end up grabbing a seat at the bar and the menu looks about the same. Irish favorites, American classcis, sandwiches, burgers and more. I go with some fish and chips (haddock over cod) for my first meal at the new Hibernian. Food was never a huge strength of the old location given the Hibernian’s roots as a bar but every now and then, pub food can really hit the spot. Prices are $8 to $15 for sandwiches and entrees.
In about 15 minutes, a large plate of well-fried fish shows up, sitting on top of some pub chips (fries) along with a small cup of tartar and pile of slaw. The fish looks excellent: well-browned, crunchy with lots of texture. It’s one big piece and is a little messy to eat, probably could use more tartar given the size of the fish. The slaw is just a small taste for contrast, but I really like the chips! I’m not sure if they are freshly sliced, but the crisp exterior opens to a really moist and soft potato-ey interior! Really well-done basic fries, they’ve got the fryer at just the right temperature for this genre of food, yum…
Service at the bar is excellent but that has always been a strength for the Hibernian: the attentive and well-trained staff. Looking around the space you get a real mix of people and professionals enjoying the simplicity of a pint at their newly returned Irish pub. And that’s why it’s great to have the Hibernian back in action. While it may not have the best food or beer list it’s a comfortable and friendly spot to meet up with friends. And yeah, the place also looks fantastic now, so rock on Hibernian!