Bow Bar – Our first pub of the trip, we ordered a Black Isle porter and an Edinburgh #3 from Stewart Brewing. Beers were good but the standout was the delicious blue cheese and steak pie for 2£! At some point a guy with two dogs came in and the bar lady brought over a water bowl, so it’s also a pet-friendly kind of place.
The Hanging Bat – Our first impression wasn’t great, as this bar was absolutely jammed with people. Eric snagged a table upstairs while I went down to the bar to assess our beer options. After trying (and rejecting) three different bartender-suggested watery beers, I just ordered a local cider in a bottle (which was underwhelming). I didn’t like that there were no descriptions of the draft beers anywhere beyond the name and price on a chalkboard. This place was just too busy to explain what the beers were and with no wifi, I couldn’t just look them up for myself.
Mum’s Comfort Food – We made reservations in advance for Saturday night but it turns out we really didn’t need them. Our waitress was lively and helpful from the moment we sat down until she brought the check. When she caught us eyeing the beer board, she brought over samples of the three drafts for us to try and explained where all the house-made sausages came from. Surprisingly, we both ordered a pint of the Sunburst IPA that was citrusy and mild. Our meal here was super-tasty, with Eric enjoying his chicken and rosemary pie with chips and I got the sausage and mash platter with sweet italian, lamb marquez and spanish chorizo sausages accompanied by cheesy potatoes and plain gravy. She also brought over the caramelized onion gravy, which I wound up liking even more. Somehow I was not completely full (all that walking clearly) so we finished the meal with cranachan, a dessert with whiskey-soaked raspberries, oatmeal and custard. Thankfully I didn’t have to pronounce it! We really liked our meal here and almost came back the next night…
WHISKI Bar & Restaurant – After a morning of walking around the Edinburgh Castle, we worked up an appetite and I was sold after seeing mussels on the menu. My lunch portion came with crusty bread and lemon water for my fingers, a nice touch. Eric’s chicken caesar salad sandwich was good, a little sweet. To drink, we both tried Innis & Gunn beers. Eric had the original on draught and me, the rum finished oak-aged in a bottle. E’s was sweeter with butterscotch notes, while mine was smoother with a mild rum undertone, very nice. Whiski is, apparently, one of only four places to have the original on draught. Service was friendly and laid-back, we would definitely recommend it.
Continuing my trend of eating mussels around the world!
We returned later that afternoon for a whisky tasting once our feet were worn out. Flight #2 featured a pour from each of the main whisky-producing regions in Scotland: Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside and Islay. The Caol Ila 12 YR was the big hit, the peat and smoky notes were amazing and Eric was converted on the spot to a whisky fan. I preferred the more subtle sweetness and smoke of the Dalwhinnie 15 YR from the Highlands. The Cragganmore 12YR from Speyside was also nice.
Brauhaus – After the whisky tasting and a little shopping, we caught a bus to Brauhaus. This pub is removed the main tourist area and was a much more relaxed, living room type of place. Eric tried the Black Isle organic blonde and I had the Highlander scottish ale. We also noticed pretzels on the chalkboard for 1.25£ which were in a basket on the bar for patrons to help themselves. The draught board definitely skewed hoppy but it seemed like a good place to hang out.
The Dogs – Actually our third choice for dinner, this British gastropub had a table that was nearly open so we grabbed the two stools at the bar and ordered a glass of wine to wait with (chenin blanc for Eric and a rose for me). We chatted through our 15 minute wait and were eventually seated at a window table, a good people watching spot. Glancing around the restaurant and noticing all the tasty-looking food, I based my appetizer and entree choices on visual evidence; Livers on toast with an obscene amount of gravy for an app, and the oxtail stew for a main. Eric got the mac and cheese, the burnt cheesy part on top was a hit and it tasted like it was perhaps made with sheep cheese.
The Oxford – Not quite ready to head back to our hotel after we finished our meal, we surfed Yelp for a good nearby pub option. We found The Oxford Pub and were not disappointed. This pub is tiny, so we were happy when a few people left and freed up some space in the back while I was trying to order at the bar. There was no whisky menu, so I winged it and got Eric an Isley 12 YR scotch and a Stewart’s Copper for me. As a bonus the bar was hosting some local musicians featuring a fiddle, recorder, guitar and a lovely female vocalist. ‘Road to Dundee’ and ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’ were two of the best.