Robbie’s on Leith Walk is an Edinburgh institution. Situated on the corner of the Walk and Iona Street, it’s a no-nonsense pub with more televisions than you can shake a stick at. Popular Edinburgh author Tony Black has even penned a short story about the place, Ten Bells at Robbie’s, and admits he’s a huge fan of the place.
So it was that Robbie’s was chosen as a decent, local, football-showing pub for a recent catch-up with a mate. Despite an initial worry that they were showing Chelsea in the Champions’ League rather than the Celtic game, this proved to be unfounded as the channel was switched in time for kick-off. The less said about Celtic’s performance against AC Milan, the better, but how did Robbie’s perform? Having surveyed the real ales available, I was drawn to the Carronade by the Tryst Brewery, based in Larbert near Falkirk. It’s a decent pint but my first of the night, and that of my friend, was let down by being served in a very warm pint glass, obviously straight from the washer. Now, I know ale shouldn’t be served ice cold but this was taking it to extremes. Luckily, the second and third pints were more sympathetically dealt with.
As we enjoyed our pints and catch-up towards the back of the bar, it soon became clear that there was about to be a Tuesday-night fissure as the pub began to split into two clear factions – those that wanted to carry on watching Celtic’s demolition and those that were in for the regular quiz.
Talk of a quiz was news to us but handily positioned on the cusp of the quiz but with a clear view of two televisions, we decided to multitask and threw our hat into the trivia ring. A couple of hours later, we were toasting third place, having only been beaten by two significantly larger teams that more resembled squads.
Now, having hosted more than 300 pub quizzes in my time, I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur in this area and I have to say that Robbie’s Tuesday quiz was very enjoyable. Despite being shoved in a corner due to the interest in the football, Tony the quizmaster did a great job and set a challenging but doable test. Several rounds of four questions plus a fifth question that demanded 10 answers each time kept us on our toes, as did the picture round featuring American presidents in movies, music stars beginning with P and robots. It was free to enter, pens were supplied from a suitably retro Broons tin, the prizes were beer and biscuits and Tony was down to earth.
A quick chat with the man himself after the quiz revealed that he’s normally positioned at the front of the pub with a microphone – he admitted that this occasion had been his first Robbie’s acoustic quiz but I know myself that it’s always important that the show goes on, no matter what, as people need to know that they can rely on your quiz being on every week. For those after a quiz experience nearer the centre of town, Tony also hosts a Monday night event at No 1 High Street, formerly the Tass.
What else can one say about Robbie’s? Despite a huge number of TVs dotted around and behind the bar, they somehow don’t dominate the place, even when showing a big game. Add in a good few nooks and crannies, a roaring real fire and a decent selection of ale priced from £3.00 (significantly cheaper than Jeremiah’s Taproom further up the Walk) and it’s a solid pub. There are far more questionable drinking establishments on Leith Walk so if you’re after a pint and a read of the paper, a quiet chat with mates or a decent view of the big game, you can do far worse than head down to Robbie’s.
Robbie’s is at 367 Leith Walk, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8SE