[Note: as of July 2015, Pryde’s is now Entwine, describing itself as a bar and bistro specialising in fresh Italian food]
I was never in Robertson’s bar on Gorgie Road. Painted maroon and white and sporting a Heart of Midlothian crest as its pub sign, it wore its heart on its sleeve. Add in the zero tolerance on away supporters and the imposing doormen and no one other than a rampant Jambo would venture through its doors, ruling myself out. Times change, however, and just as there have been major changes at Tynecastle in the past year, this traditional football pub has also undergone a revolution and is now Pryde’s Bar – a family friendly establishment painted cream and determined to change the reputation of the premises.
When I mentioned my recent visit to Pryde’s to a long-time Hearts season ticket holder, his initial feeling was sympathy. Not for me, however, but for whoever had been faced with the chance of ripping out the old toilets here. It would not have been a pleasant job, he assured me. Now, I didn’t actually make it to the gents on my short visit here but if they are up to the same standard as the rest of the pub then I’m confident in predicting they are a far cry from the dark days of Robertson’s.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of ripping out traditional pubs in order to create atmosphere-lacking, family-friendly spaces. However, Gorgie is well served by better pubs that are frequented by the Hearts-supporting community – the Tynecastle Arms is across the road while Diggers is just round the corner, for example. Pryde’s Bar is perhaps filling a gap in the market here and will be trying to take advantage of its proximity to Gorgie City Farm, a favourite for family days out. On the surface, this makes perfect sense: a pub cannot survive based on being packed for five hours every second Saturday, as the new manager was quick to point out to the Edinburgh Evening News when taking the pub over.
So what is Pryde’s Bar like? Does it live up to its rather natty website? Well, I popped in on a miserable Monday afternoon, an Edinburgh holiday, and the place looked good though was quiet – I was initially 50 per cent of the clientele. However, the barmaid was friendly and there was real ale on tap. I was also immediately handed a discount card that will get me 10 per cent off drinks and 20 per cent off food until next March.
As I say, I can’t compare the interior to Robertson’s but clearly this has been a massive overhaul. The bar looks great and has been furnished in a slightly Scandinavian style – well, it reminds of some of the Swedish bars down Leith Walk, anyway. There are comfy booths, raised benches and mismatched colourful chairs that creates an eclectic feel to the interior. Fashionable light fittings and some antique green paint keep it the correct side of classy. And as if to cement its family-friendly stance and closeness to the animal community, there are even some cuddly pandas hugging some of the spirit bottles behind the bar.
There is also a small stage area as the pub intends to win some local trade with regular live music. This could well work as I really don’t think there’s anywhere in the Gorgie area where you can enjoy a bit of entertainment and have a reasonably decent meal. The menu in Pryde’s looks fine – plenty pub classics and all fairly priced. There are three ale taps and prices were only just north of £3.00 – even cheaper if you use your discount card.
So, this place looks good, seemed friendly and is a fine regeneration of a questionable establishment. However, it will need its regulars to survive. Luckily, there were a few in by the time I left and I was treated to a fantastic tale of local man Dave’s doomed engagement. Apparently he was engaged to a lucky lady for a total of three and a half hours before admitting that he didn’t have a well-paid job, didn’t own a villa in Spain and wasn’t as loaded as he’d maybe suggested. Yes, he’d acted like a big player when they’d met but he’d been on a high and flashing the cash because he’d just got a modest PPI cheque in the post. Apparently the ring was chucked back at him and the marriage was over literally before it had begun. Still, at least he got the ring back.
I wish Pryde’s Bar all the luck in the world. I think it will be tough but I hope a mixture of locals, visitors to Gorgie Farm and general passers-by looking for a coffee and free WIFI will make this place a success. Mrs Bar Fly and I will be heading there for a meal soon – this is definitely not something I’d be saying if this was still Robertson’s, that’s for sure. As I was leaving, a flower delivery had arrived and the barmaid was going round the tables and ensuring they all had some floral decor. It’s touches like this and general attention to detail that will help Pryde’s along the way.