#48: Whighams Wine Cellars, Hope Street, Edinburgh

Whighams Wine Cellars, Hope Street, Edinburgh (exterior)

It says outside that Whighams was established in 1766. I take it this is poetic licence of some sort. Even their website says it opened in 1983, and I didn’t spot any explanation on site (though, knowing my “looking skills”, it was probably explained in prominent 8ft golden writing in the bar). According to wikipedia, designs for the New Town were only just being conceived in 1766. Somebody please enlighten me.

The boys say (in unusually reverent tones, probably Doug):

Established subterranean tavern, expanded in last ten years. Intimate + tight snugs (multiple). Seating up the rear from side door. […] Some say it’s dark, others say mysterious + romantic. Candles.

We used to come in here occasionally years ago when Doug worked nearby and one of his colleagues moonlighted behind the bar. It’s quite different now that they’ve opened up into the neighbouring basement, with a large open space for the dining area. However, the cellar snugs are all still there and the original bar area hasn’t really changed much apart from a missing wall and a new bar. It’s still a similar atmosphere, moody and cellar-like, and packed on a Friday night by all accounts. The new(ish) area has a more modern, open feel.

It’s not trying to be something it isn’t, fobbing you off with so-called craft beer or jumping on other industry bandwagons. There’s nothing overly pretentious about the place and the staff seem helpful and knowledgeable.

The Bar

Whighams Wine Cellars, Hope Street, Edinburgh (interior, bar)

It’s about time I labelled this section something a bit broader than just “Beer” considering we’re in a wine bar. They claim to have lots of good wine here. I believe them. We’ll leave it at that, cos I don’t know anything about wine.

There are three cask beer lines. On this trip there was Caledonian Flying Scotsman, Deuchars and Three Hops. The barman said it’s not always Caledonian beers, but they generally keep them local-ish so you’ll likely see Stewart’s or Fyne Ales in there. On keg there was Heineken, Tennent’s Lager, Guinness, Kronenbourg 1664. I didn’t get a look at their bottled beers, but the lads and the barman independently mentioned Fyne Ales Jarl and Maverick.

The round was £12.30 for 3 pints (1 x Flying Scotsman, 1 x Deuchars, 1 x Heineken), so a little steep at £4.10 per pint on average. The Heineken probably put the average up, the Deuchars being £3.85.

Food

The lads say:

Small selection of fine food options.
Nachos w/ smoked chicken (£11!). Mince not an option (mmmmince).
Complimentary potatos+chorizo.

Russ, our nacho expert, will no doubt have felt very conflicted. On one hand they’re saying nachos are an eye-watering £11 and no chilli beef, while on the other hand there’s free Spanish-ish nibbles. I think we’ll have to go back, eat some free stuff and order the expensive nachos, just to see what that gets you. What if they’re incredible?

Mains from their sample menu seem to range from around £9 to £22, mostly below £12. The nachos must have been a special.

Amenities

The lads’ notes:

‘Ooks under bar. No music.
Quite dark. TVs (boo) covered and only on for sports (yay).
One slightly fizzling candle (this is a negative).

Whighams Wine Cellars, Hope Street, Edinburgh (exterior, patio)
There’s a small patio below street level out the side door with around 5 or 6 small tables, some hanging plants, etc. It’s not the biggest or best beer garden in town (despite Doug’s protestations), and it won’t get much sun if any, but it’s one of only three in the neighbourhood that I can think of. It’s this, or you can sit out on the pavement at Ryan’s, or the deck at Indigo Yard.

Live jazz on a Sunday according to their website, free of charge.

Castle View

Nay.

Contacts

Website: www.whighams.com
Twitter: @WhighamsEdinBar
Facebook: WhighamsWineCellars

Whighams Wine Cellars, Hope Street, Edinburgh (interior, snug)

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