Named after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, this pub has been bought and renovated by the Nicholson’s pub chain in the last few years. It’s a busy pub, with a quirky multi-level layout and haphazard decor.
Warning: here comes a rant. The Nicholson’s logo mischievously says “freehouse” on it, but that’s surely a joke. Nicholson’s has over 70 pubs around the UK, mostly in central London. They seem to have a thirst for Edinburgh pubs these days, snapping up some classics like the Kennilworth on Rose Street, and tourist traps like Deacon Brodies on the Royal Mile. Nicholson’s themselves are owned by Mitchells & Butlers. Maybe, like me, you’ve never heard of them. Well, after a quick check on Wikipedia, I can tell you that they’re the UK’s largest pub and restaurant group, essentially the retail arm of Bass after it sold the Bass name and brewing operations to Interbrew (now Anheuser-Busch InBev). We’re dealing with the big boys here. So Nicholson’s are stable mates with the likes of All Bar One, O’Neill’s, Toby Carvery and Browns restaurants. Freehouse, my arse!
Ok, rant over. The thing is, from a consumer’s point of view, it’s hard to argue with well kept, cheap beer and well trained staff. I’m basing the staff thing on a single encounter in Deacon Brodies a while back, maybe it was a fluke. There was nothing out of the ordinary staff-wise tonight in Conan Doyle.
There’s a good choice of casks: Caledonian Deuchars, Harviestoun Old Engine Oil, Sharp’s Cornish Coaster, Hilden Brewing Scullion’s Irish Ale, Kelburn Pivo Estivo, Orkney Raven Ale, and Stewart’s 80. On keg there’s Tennent’s Lager, Carling Extra Cold, Peroni, Heineken, Guinness, Franziskaner hefe Weissbier, Stella Artois Black and San Miguel.
1.5 pints of Old Engine Oil was a measly £3.70, implying a pint is somewhere around £2.50! That’s not representative though, we didn’t know there was a special offer of some kind on. I hesitate to call it a mini beer festival.
They have a full menu, as do all of the Nicholson’s pubs (I believe), but all the menus had been removed by the time we got here at around 9.20pm. There was a board on the wall titled “Beer Snacks” detailing a short list of hot snacks available, all of which were under a fiver except for the nachos. It had the likes of pork pie, scotch egg, sausage roll, onion rings etc.
No TV that I remember, but I’d be surprised if a chain pub didn’t put sport on, so I’m probably mistaken.