Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#328. Waterloo Buffet, 3-7 Waterloo Pl, Edinburgh

Like the Windsor, this Buffet pub shares its name with a city in Ontario. Also like the Windsor, this place is charming. A tad small, we sat outside and people watched. The beer selection was pretty minimal. I think I drank a McEwan's 80/-.

We ended up here after an outing that saw us climb to the top of the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill. Here is the view from the top, with the old observatory in the foreground and New Town in the background.

Monday, July 30, 2012

#327. The Southern, 22-26 South Clerk St, Edinburgh

Fuller Thomson can do no wrong.

My choice was third from the right: Hit the Lip from Cromarty Brewery from up north of Inverness. My second beer of the day from these upstarts, and both were fantastic. Also fantastic was the falafel burger. It was nice to see a choice of veggie options on the menu.

Beer Mecca.

#326. Steamie, 72-74 Newington Rd, Edinburgh

Further south of the Reverie is Steamie, a gastro pub with a somewhat funky interior. I was happy to see the Nimbus blonde cask ale from the Orkney Brewery as their guest ale.

#325. Reverie, 1 Newington Rd, Edinburgh

A charming pub: not too big, not too small. I sat in a comfy chair in the window and enjoyed my Cromarty Brewing Red Rocker cask ale. The sun even came out. Quite heavenly, really.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

#324. Fiddler's Elbow, 4 Picardy Pl, Edinburgh

This place is shabby chic, and way more charming than I anticipated.

Linus drank a Briska pear cider from Sweden, on tap. He said it tasted like non-alcoholic juice. The bartender wasted half of it on the pour due to its excessive carbonation. I settled for a Caledonia Best.

Linus noted that the condiment selection was very good.

As is the Scottish tradition, most of the light bulbs were burned out and nobody could be arsed to replace them. Even so, 1/6ths is one of the lowest ratios I've ever seen in a pub.

#323. Tonic, 34A North Castle St, Edinburgh

After aborted attempts to visit Harry's Bar (closed Sundays) and Amicus Apple (smelly with douchebags, according to my son), we end up in this basement cocktail bar close to our home. An Innis & Gunn for me, and because Linus is a working class Protestant, a Tennents for him.

#322. Harry's Bar, 7B Randolph Pl, Edinburgh

My second day in a row with the intention of visiting Harry's. The wankers close on Sundays! Here is Linus expressing his outrage.

The view from the street is spectacular. This is what Linus is looking at in the above photo.

UPDATE: I visited Harry's on September 6th, 2012. I drank a pint of Belhaven Best and listened to a live set by an acoustic MOR duo. The place is popular with well-dressed folks about my age. Here is what the interior of this West End basement bar looks like.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

#321. Rutland Bar, 1 Rutland St, Edinburgh

Tram construction in front of the Rutland.
On my way here I stopped at an ATM to get more cash. A homeless man huddled on the sidewalk asked if I had any change. I checked my pockets and apologized. He said thanks anyway and wished me a good evening. I am always amazed at how courteous the panhandlers in this city tend to be, and how often you will see a fellow citizen crouched down in conversation with them in what appears to be a sincere act of caring. I took my bills from the bank machine and gave him a £10 note. His initial shock quickly abated as he shook my hand and smiled and thanked me profusely. Any problems I might be having pale in comparison.

My intention was to try Harry's Bar on Randolph Place, but it was packed. The Rutland is where I end up, and after waiting for 15 minutes at my cowhide barstool I am finally served a Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted (delicious) for £4.50 (not delicious).

This is mostly a cocktails and be seen kind of crowd.

#320. Indigo Yard, 7 Charlotte Ln, Edinburgh

The day after my visit I came back and took this photo.

Tucked in behind Pizza Express is this West End bar with a great looking outdoor patio. It would be fun to visit Indigo Yard on a warm, dry evening, but alas it is damp and 11 degrees when I make my way through to the bar. Their website promised me Innis & Gunn on tap, but I was handed a bottle by the bartender. I took my drink outside and sat on a wet chair.

Back inside and smooth funk is playing a bit too loudly. The place needs more cowbell, even with LaBelle's Lady Marmalade.

Friday, July 27, 2012

#319. Lord Bodo's, 3 Dublin St, Edinburgh

Friday at 5:00PM is prime pub time. Lord Bodo's is a cozy basement bar in a great location. I had tried to come here in the winter but it was closed. Apparently they used to close on Sundays. They are open now, and it is busy without being crowded. The Beta Band on the stereo is a nice fit, followed by Love on Your Side by the Thompson Twins, which features that wonderful syncopation in the chorus. Now they are playing Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants!

The beer selection was okay, but nothing spectacular. That's a perfectly poured Caledonian 70/-.

Kudos to the DJ. I'm sure if I had stayed long enough I'd have heard some OMD and perhaps even this overlooked gem from Ministry (before the heroin took Al Jourgensen on his downward spiral).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

#318. Fingers Piano Bar, 61A Hanover St, Edinburgh

I have walked by this place on so many occasions, but it is rarely open. It turns out it doesn't open until 10:00PM, stays open until 3:00AM, and caters primarily to the after-pub-closing crowd.

I was the only one there at 11:30PM on a Thursday night - the calm before the storm. They were cleaning the lines on all the taps, so on the advice of Stevie the bartender, I ordered a Highland Park whisky.

Stevie was cordial, and quite happy to discuss Edinburgh's pub scene. He claims that Fingers has been around for decades, and that Dirty Martinis copied their business model of the sing-along piano bar.

#317. Bon Vivant, 55 Thistle St, Edinburgh

I think I am at a well-regarded bar called Bon Vivant, but the branding and wicker furniture is confusing. Adding to the discord is the table of four loud women, high-fiving and yelling at each other excitedly over the Bob Marley on the stereo. It is too dark in here for reggae. The table service seems a bit unnecessary. Maybe it is so that none of the patrons trip and fall in the candlelight? The Belhaven Best is too cold. I don't even want to finish it... I just want to get out of here.

Not my cup of tea.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#316. Regent Bar, 2 Montrose Terr, Edinburgh

A self-proclaimed gay real ale bar, the Regent featured a beautiful interior and coasters recommending you always use lube with a condom.

I drank a Westons Old Rosie scrumpy, which at 7.3% abv is a wee bit of a panty remover. I kept mine on, and struggled with an attack of acid reflux for the rest of the evening.

This is a first-rate pub.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#315. The Auld Hoose, 10 St Leonards Street, Edinburgh

Photo courtesy of their website.
Just a few steps down St. Leonards from the disappointing Montague is this gem. According to their website, The Auld Hoose is
Newington's only alternative pub. It has an excellent reputation for traditional pub food, hand pulled real ales endorsed by CAMRA, a selection of 24 single malt whiskies and an eclectic jukebox with an awesome selection of Metal, Punk, Rock, and Goth music.
The place is busy, mostly with young people wearing black with tattoos, echoing the bartender's look. There is an American girl who wants to hit on a Scottish guy at the bar. Her friends are trying to make it happen, but their actions leave the target of her affection slightly embarrassed. Who knows... they probably went home together.

This pub is serious about its beer. I had a Wychwood Hobgoblin cask ale. The bartender asked me if I liked ale (are you kidding?) and offered me a sample of their new High Wire pale ale from "down south". Actually, it is from Magic Rock Brewing of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. It smelled better than it tasted.

#314. The Montague, 85 St Leonards Street, Edinburgh

There's not much to say about this bright and clean pub. It looked and felt more like a first-floor New Town flat than a bar. The beer selection was minimal, so I settled for a half-pint of Deuchars IPA, which one can often smell in the streets of Edinburgh while it is being brewed at the Caledonian plant in Haymarket.

#313. The Abbey, 65 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh

Down towards Newington south of Old Town is this old boozer full of men arguing about who is more Scottish, and how the Scots invented more things than anyone else on the planet. One guy complaints about how ugly wind farms are, and this makes the Welshman next to him very angry

The bartender as peacemaker.
I drank an Old Leg Over cask ale from Daleside Brewery in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The pub features a good selection of beers and veggie burgers!

The camera lens on my iPhone is dirty. Sorry about that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

#312. Tigerlily, 125 George St, Edinburgh

I am not sure what is going on at Tigerlily, or where exactly the bar begins or ends. There appears to be an older, wider gentleman curled up with a blonde escort on the couch next to the fireplace. The music is vanilla disco, but the Innis & Gunn on tap is a nice touch, as is the comfy furniture where I sit and enjoy a half-pint. There is purple neon leaking through from the next room. Otherwise it is all candles, mirrors, and 15-foot ceilings.

#311. Tempus, 25 George St, Edinburgh

The Tempus is part of the George Hotel. It features lots of ornate mirrors, leather furniture, but very few lumens up here in the seating area. The lampshade on my table is like a parody of The WestRoom.

I am on a streak of dimly lit cocktail bars, having run out of traditional pubs within a brisk walk of home. Will it ever stop raining? Belhaven Best is the best they can do for beer. The music seems chosen so as to offend no one, but in my case they have failed. It's not their fault, for I am in a bad mood, having spent the past two weeks eating from a buffet of sadness.

I distract myself by reading Wikipedia entries on my phone about algebra, relational algebra, analysis, and topology. Mathematics is a good place to retreat when one's emotional state is out of balance.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

#310. Sygn, 15 Charlotte Ln, Edinburgh

A stone's throw from its sister, the Sygn is another stylish cocktail bar. I ordered a £4 Guinness. The bartender was cute, so I assumed she wasn't from here. Her English was excellent and her accent somewhere between Aberdeen and Dublin. She was asking me a bunch of questions while she poured my beer (her curiosity and friendliness towards me yet another indication she was not from here). I got shy and walked away, sitting as far from the bar as possible, upon where I took these two pictures.

Sygn is The WestRoom without the big lampshades. After checking my phone for any new email, I decided to go stand at the bar and ask the bartender where she was from. Suddenly three Scottish dudes came in and used their red hair and small stature to temporarily distract her. I don't understand where their shameless confidence with women comes from. Is it Francis Scott? William Wallace? Eric Liddell? Sean Connery? Alcohol? Anyway, it turns out the bartender was from Poland (of course), and she had just finished a degree in Design at Napier.

#309. The WestRoom, 3 Melville Pl, Edinburgh

After the disappointment of the Raconteur being closed, I walked west to Queensferry Road and crossed the Dean Bridge. The view from the bridge is stunning, but I have to say the skyline would look nicer if (a) the sun ever came out, and (b) the buildings were painted in vibrant and dynamic colours a la Prague.

I ended up at this stylish bar, where I drank an always satisfying Caledonian 80/-. The WestRoom features the biggest lampshades (of any bar in the world?), part of its modern decor.

The lampshade overhead.