Named after a faerie from Scottish folklore, this was originally built as St Thomas’ Episcopal Church in 1843. Since then it’s also been home to the Edinburgh Tourist Office and a Berkeley Casino. More info here and here.
On this trip we were just in the downstairs pub which is quite dark, even on a sunny day, with a low (fake) wooden beamed ceiling. It’s quite attractive really, with lots of woodenness, albeit fake, a few snugs round the back of the bar and a slightly raised section separated by more fake wooden beams.
The upstairs is a different beast altogether. With a huge vaulted ceiling and massive chandeliers that look like they might have been nicked from Edinburgh Castle, it’s really quite impressive, and you ought to at least nip in to see it, even if you’re not staying for a pint. They have regular ceilidhs up there, big rugby games on the big screen, weddings, Edinburgh Fringe shows, even beer bloggers’ conferences. I didn’t go up on this occasion, but do have photos somewhere from a previous trip. Until I find those, take a look at their Ghillie Dhu web site.
This is part of the G1 Group, so a sister pub to The Three Sisters, Cabaret Voltaire and Biddy Mulligan’s.
Not a huge selection of beer, with only two casks, Deuchars and the house beer, Ghillie Ale, brewed by Inveralmond. It’s cracking, quite similar to Ossian, if not just relabelled Ossian. There’s the usuals like Guinness and Tennent’s, Stella Artois and Staropramen too.
£16.55 for 2.5 pints and 2 gin and tonics, so let’s say £3.60 tops a pint.
The main problem with this place is it always seems to be understaffed, and the staff they have seem a bit slow. Even on this relatively quiet Friday night, people were waiting quite a while, and some random punter muttered something to me like “do I need a special password?”, as the barman took off after giving me my change, instead of serving someone else. I’m perhaps being unfair, since I’m basing this on about 3 or 4 visits, but it can be painful trying to get served at a big game. People line up double rounds in desperation cos they know it’ll take ages next time, thus making the problem worse.
The food is good, but pricy for what you’re getting. For example, guess how much a pie, chips and peas is. Way too low, guess again. Och, I’ll just tell you, it’s £9.95! For pie and chips. There’s a fairly typical menu with pub classics like fish and chips (£9.95), macaroni cheese (£7.95!), salmon fillet etc. There are some other interesting sounding things too, even for vegetarians, and no, not the standard veggie lasagne.
The return of the amenities section. This place has unique toilets, at least in the gents (I hope it’s not the same in the ladies!). It was a novelty to begin with, but I’m afraid it’s worn off. Whatever the urinals are made of (galvanised steel maybe?) they seem to harbour a rather unpleasant odour, and they now look fairly gross and tatty. For once I care about the bogs in a pub.
As I mentioned, it’s big for sports events and you can hire the place out, or portions of it. There are a few big screens downstairs, and one massive big screen upstairs, depending on the popularity of the game.
Close, but no cigar, the Caledonian Hotel is in the way. Oh, hold on, nobody checked from the upstairs windows. Pending review…