The pubs of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile are generally avoided by any self-respecting local, who knows that they are merely tourist traps out to make maximum profit from visitors through minimum effort and maximum tartan and haggis. The Mitre, however, I’ve always found pretty solid.
On a dark, wet night in town, you’ll see from the picture that it’s an attractive looking hostelry. Now, I have to admit we’d chosen the Mitre on this particular evening to use a £5 e-giftcard that Nicholson’s Pubs had emailed for the completion of a survey. Of course, once I’d ordered a couple of pints, I couldn’t locate the email on my phone. “Don’t worry,” said the barmaid, “I don’t think we’ve been running such a scheme.” And here lies one of my biggest bugbears with pubs that offer discounts and incentives: you have to tell your staff. I hate handing over a voucher and being looked at as if I’ve just handed over a bagful of human waste. “I’ve never heard of this, I’ll have to check with my manager,” is a common refrain before there is a lot of huffing and puffing ultimately leading to a reluctant acceptance. Now, it’s probably not the staff’s fault but the pub company should not put a load of marketing effort and money into getting me through the door only to then treat me like a criminal.
On this occasion, I couldn’t locate my voucher so handed over the cash instead. We then asked for our Nicholson’s Beer Festival card to be stamped twice only to be told that the card isn’t valid in Scotland. It is, as you can see from the picture. They cannot offer a free pint due to Scottish laws (I’ll be writing about this in the future) but they are offering a free snack instead. Eventually, it was agreed that it could be stamped but then it was only stamped once despite two cask ales bought. Poor, very poor. [Update: To Nicholson’s credit, they have got in touch with me about this and state that they are only allowed to give out one stamp per customer per day.] It’s surprising because Nicholson’s is putting a lot of effort into e-marketing and their Cask Ale Club yet staff on the ground seem hopelessly ill-prepared and ignorant.
The pub itself is decent enough. Done up in recent memory, it boasts the standard splattering of tartan, some statement wallpaper and of course a selection of old-style books to create that library feel in the corner. Whisky is heavily promoted while there are five handpulls, including Nicholson’s Pale Ale which I presume is a regular fixture beside four guest ales. We both enjoyed our pints of Blonde Ambition, a collaboration between Shepherd Neame and the Boston Beer Company.
I’ll be back in the Mitre, no doubt. Probably soon as I’ve now located the email with my £5 gift card. I’d also recommend it to anyone looking to have a decent pint in that part of town. Although I didn’t eat there on this occasion, food in the past has been solid pub fare and Nicholson’s regularly emails food-related offers. It’s probably more of a reflection on the pubs nearby that I view this one so positively but Nicholson’s are making an effort and their pubs are generally pleasant, well-run places. Just be prepared to explain their own discount schemes to them!
The Mitre is at 131-133 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SG.