The name comes from the proximity to the old public gallows that used to be nearby, and the spot is now a big tourist attraction. Hence, the pub is quite touristy, but somehow the staff remain friendly. It was pretty busy as you might expect early on a Saturday evening, no free tables or chairs. Despite the tourists I got the impression that some of the punters at the bar were locals.
The decor’s a bit touristy too, but not over the top. Low ceilings, wooden beams and panelling, brick archways, various bits of bric-a-brac on the walls on small shelves, old paintings of the Grassmarket, and wood and glass separators between leather u-shaped benches in an old-school lounge bar style. It’s quite charming really.
I was quite surprised when I realised that this is now a Nicholson’s pub. I didn’t notice on the day, and usually Nicholson’s pubs have their logo somewhere visible and their own pale ale on, so they seem to have avoided the branding, and long may it continue. It’s also a lot smaller than any of their other pubs in town (Haymarket, Conan Doyle, Deacon Brodie’s).
This was pub 5 of 19 on our random February blowout. We started out with the aim of ticking off 8 pubs in the Grassmarket, but got very carried away and did a lot of the Cowgate too. The quality of these posts will deteriorate towards the end as notes become thinner and memory hazier. I’m not particularly proud of the achievement, it was pretty stupid.
Two casks: Caledonian Deuchars and “Spring In Your Step” which the barman said was the house beer, brewed by Downton. Kegs: Guinness, Strongbow, Belhaven Best, Peroni, Carling, Tennent’s Lager.
The round was £11.69 for 2 shandies, a Deuchars and a half of the Downton, so something like £3.34 per pint. Very reasonable for the Grassmarket.
There is food, but I’ve no details or prices. Their web page says “classic pub food”.
Nope, unless you count the various paintings of the Grassmarket.