The Canons’ Gait on Edinburgh’s Canongate is a funny one. I’ve been going there for several years, especially during my days working in the Old Town (I even had my leaving do there), when it was less busy, more welcoming and considerably less expensive than the nearby Holyrood 9a. But why’s it funny? Well, I guess I just feel it’s still trying to work out what it wants to be but has never fully committed in any direction.
Until Edinburgh finally catches up with New York and gets itself a table tennis bar, I will continue to make do with pool. Sadly, these days I am out of practice. Since Mai Thai down at Holyrood shut down, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve troubled a baize. The odd visit to Diane’s Pool Hall was as much as I’d done until a visit to the recently re-opened Marco’s on Grove Street.
Hectors is one of those places that everyone knows about and has probably been to at some point. Its position in the centre of Stockbridge guarantees great footfall and a recent visit there proved it’s cross-generational popularity. Is it any good though?
[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.
I love the idea of the pub being a place for debate. While a lot of discussion may happen online these days, there’s nothing like a spirited in-pub discussion. Of course, there’s been no bigger debate in Scotland lately than the Independence Referendum. And if there was any doubt in how engaged people were with it, you need only have been in Sandy Bell’s on the eve of the referendum where debate, both national and international, was complemented by the folk music that this pub is famous for.