Where does Edinburgh stop and Leith begin? The top of Leith Walk? Halfway down? I’ve never quite worked it out but there’s no doubt that despite Leith now being part of Edinburgh, it is an area fiercely proud of its history, its community and and its importance in the development of Scotland’s capital city. And nowhere is this pride better illustrated than in The Persevere Bar at the bottom of Easter Road.
The Percy as it’s popularly known is a bit of a gem. Taking its name from the motto of Leith, this is a no-frills, warm, community-focused pub that embodies everything that is good about this part of town. Up to a couple of years ago, it was a bit of a mystery to me as I’d been past it hundreds of times but never popped in. I also had no idea what it looked like inside due to its frosted glass exterior. That has gone, however, the paintwork has been overhauled, the flower baskets proudly hung and its signage shines golden and bright. It’s inviting and it was high time I visited.
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.
Abbeyhill is pretty much the opposite side of Edinburgh from Corstorphine and one of the city’s most famous attractions: Edinburgh Zoo. As a lover of animals, you can imagine my excitement a number of years ago when I noticed that a local pub may not have a zoo but it was advertising a “Safari Lounge” in neon writing. What animals would I be treated to?
In I went, heads turned and I was told the safari lounge was closed. Disappointingly, this was clearly a local, drinking man’s pub that had seen better days. Unsurprisingly, it closed down not too long after. Earlier this year, however, in a blaze of orange and brown, it reopened as The Safari Lounge. Surely I couldn’t be disappointed a second time? Continue reading Into the wild at The Safari Lounge, Abbeyhill→
Now, full disclosure: the Mash Tun on Easter Road is physically the nearest pub to my humble abode. I can achieve bedroom to bar in under a minute. This does not mean it qualifies for any favouritism, however. Having lived here for nearly eight years, though, I was thankful for this pub’s transformation in August 2012 when the enigmatic Utopia was given a full overhaul to become a welcoming bar that describes itself as a bier house and kitchen.
There is no shortage of pubs on Easter Road but there is a shortage of decent ones, and a dearth of real-ale-selling ones or somewhere you can take a lady for something to eat. It always seemed strange to me that no one had properly filled this gap, given the number of young professionals in the area. The old Utopia had obviously set out to sort of target this market but it had never really worked. Menus changed constantly (and not in a good way), opening hours were random and it really felt like no one cared. Eventually the metal shutters went up and “There goes the neighbourhood,” I thought. Not so, however. The Mash Tun is making a jolly good attempt at being the sort of local pub I’ve always wanted. Continue reading The Mash Tun brings much-needed cheer to Easter Road→