Regent Road is a mystery to me. Well, the road itself isn’t a mystery but the lack of attention it is given is. A beautifully wide street that starts from the east end of Princes Street, it stretches to Abbeyhill and is never busy, either with traffic or pedestrians. It’s a strange one as it offers some fine views of the city, particularly the Old Town and sights such as Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament and Arthur’s Seat. Myself and Mrs Bar Fly enjoy walks along here in all seasons to take in the beauty of the city and quite often our stroll ends with a pint and a hot chocolate in the Regent.
Advertised on its under-construction website as “The best real ale gay pub in Edinburgh”, its boast sounds impressive if it weren’t for the lack of competition it presumably has in this sector. However, gay or not, real ale or not, it is a decent boozer, and the only one I know of that has a pommel horse in the bar.
Before the recent openings of the Mash Tun and the Safari Lounge, the Regent was pretty much the only place in this part of town where you could get a decent pint of real ale. It may now have lost that USP but it does serve one of the best hot chocolates in the city, according to Mrs Bar Fly. In terms of ale, there are four taps although two always have Old Rosie cider and Deuchar’s IPA. The other two are rotated guest ales with the likes of Hobgoblin (often written as “Knob goblin” on the board outside) commonly on. Strangely, I often see groups enjoying a bottle of Prosecco or suchlike in here – I guess it doesn’t strike me as the kind of place you’d go celebrating but it is heavily promoted on each table and I guess it shows just how much of a community pub, both local and gay, this place is.
Our most recent visit was on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and I’m afraid we have to mark down the bar slightly for a bit of forgetfulness, or distraction more like. The young lad behind the bar promised he’d bring Mrs Bar Fly’s hot chocolate over before promptly chatting away with his colleague and then donning his jacket and heading to Cornelius to pick up his personal selection of Christmas ale instead (it was shutting at 7 and to be fair it was approaching four o’clock so he was running out of time!). A prompting to his colleague a while later was humorously dealt with, the hot chocolate in a giant mug speedily delivered and we’ll forgive them since it was Christmas.
I’ve eaten a couple of times in the Regent and they do have a wide menu, most of which is heated up in the microwave but is tasty, if slightly over-priced in my opinion, particularly the £5 smoked salmon bagel that a friend once had when I was there. What does appear to be very popular is the Regent’s popcorn – you can often smell it before you see massive bowl being delivered to grateful recipients. A great idea.
I mentioned the pommel horse and the interior is pretty eclectic. It’s the kind of place where you notice something different on the wall or hanging from the ceiling every time you visit. I particularly like the random selection of antique keys above the bar. In terms of layout, the large main bar hides a booth up the back while through in the second room, there is cosier seating for groups as well as a selection of books and boardgames. The colour scheme is vibrant and not to everyone’s taste but there is a definite homely feeling about the place.
Charity quiz nights occur monthly on a Monday at the Regent and quizmistress Siobahn is not one to mess with. She knows how to work the crowd and clearly she’s popular as the quiz has been packed every time we’ve pitched up. The pub is also dog-friendly and recently finished third in a nationwide poll of dog-friendly establishments by the website Dugs ‘n’ Pubs. It also featured in this Guardian guide to 10 of Edinburgh’s best pubs (have a read of this and sharpen your commenting pencil).
The Regent is a funny place. It’s a great neighbourhood pub, it’s a great gay pub and it’s welcoming to all. It’s quirky (see aforementioned pommel horse), the staff are always jolly and friendly and it’s big enough that you know you’ll get a seat. So, why not take a stroll along the criminally under-used Regent Road next time you’re in the city and stop in at The Regent before heading back into town?
The Regent is at 2 Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5DL. Its website is under construction but find them on Facebook instead.