A number of years ago when I first considered penning an Edinburgh pub blog, I managed to write two whole reviews. One of them was of the Greenmantle (one word or two, I’m not sure?) in Newington. I was reminded of this recently when myself and Mrs Bar Fly found ourselves in here prior to a forensics lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons, a free event that was part of the Science Festival. I was reminded that it’s a nice pub, a fun pub. It’s not THE best pub in Edinburgh but it has a lot going for it, from buffalo burgers to a very active quiz community.
The Greenmantle, formerly Kildares Irish bar until about five years ago, is a good, solid pub, ideal for a quiet drink with friends or a quick bite to eat. The modestly-sized two-room bar with stripped wooden floors somewhat resembles the House of Commons with plenty green seating round the walls while the rest of the décor matches the traditional feel of the benches with displays of real ale badges and the ubiquitous pictures of old Edinburgh dotted around. This is traditional Edinburgh pub with definite lashings of student though, with blackboards, inflatables, flags, fairy lights and pithy quotes filling every bit of wall space and shelf space.
One particular wall is completely dominated by blackboards, with one filled by a quiz leaderboard. Interestingly, the Greenmantle is the sister pub to my nearest boozer, the Mash Tun on Easter Road. It’s no surprise then that the quizzes in both pubs are hosted by the same guy – Jody. Yes, a man with a girl’s name. On our first visit to the Mash Tun quiz, one of my teammates just couldn’t get his head round this fact and then I recently heard a short debate on Radio Forth about whether Jody could be a boy’s name. Clearly it can, it is and let’s leave the poor guy alone. If the quiz in the Greenmantle (Tuesday), which going by the blackboard has a devoted following, is as as good as the Mash Tun one then this one is definitely worth trying.
Other blackboards boast of the pub’s regular live music nights and also its poker night, which means yet another leaderboard on the wall. The pub also has two televisions, a large flatscreen in the far end of the pub plus a small screen up near the bar.
I do quite like some of the wall-based miscellany, including a famous piece of Scottish football commentary that is worryingly nearly 20 years old. Now fading but still on the far wall is the line: “Unthinkable surely for the skipper to miss”, dated 27th November 1994. This is of course a reference to Raith Rovers and their triumph in the Coca Cola Cup final against Celtic on that day – luckless captain Paul McStay being the man referred to. That memorable game was brought back to mind recently when the same team triumphed in the Ramsdens Cup against the woeful The Rangers at Easter Road.
The Fife connection (Raith Rovers play in Kirkcaldy) continues to the food with the specialty of the pub being buffalo burgers. The meat is sourced from Puddledub across the Forth and is far healthier than your average beef burger apparently. When I first reviewed this place five years ago, they were £4.95 and smallish. They are now just part of a much wider menu and retail at £6.95, accompanied by chips and red onion marmalade. In a further nod to the local student community, food is served pretty, pretty late – midnight every day, in fact.
Any downsides to the Greenmantle? One potential problem with the pub is the size of the bar – it faces the front door and is quite narrow which could make getting served tricky when the place is busy. In terms of drinks, they have a reasonable wine list, whisky list and also four real ale taps. As with the Mash Tun, I get the feeling that they are limited with what they can put on these but my pint of Cornish Doom Bar from Sharp’s Brewery was pretty good.
The Greenmantle is clearly a community pub that if you drank in regularly would quickly feel like home. After all, once your name is on the blackboard, you’re going to come back for more, aren’t you?