#176: Cafe Voltaire, Blair Street, Edinburgh

Cafe Voltaire, Blair Street, Edinburgh (exterior)

Cafe Voltaire is the bar above the more well known Cabaret Voltaire venue/club. It’s the other side of the South Bridge from Bannerman’s, and also makes use of the old vaults under the bridge. Through the back there’s a nice old low vaulted stone ceiling, lots of exposed stone walls and long benches with various games tables spanning the centuries from chess to Pac-Man. The front half has a mixture of mismatching furniture, low victorian(?) ceilings, corrugated iron bar-front, and the now apparently mandatory light-bulbs-in-a-cage (so hot right now).

It was very quiet on our Tuesday night visit, circa 7pm, with only a few folk. This was good news for us though, it meant we got easy access to the sweet arcade machines through the back (see “Amenities”). There was a DJ desk set up but no DJ, so maybe it was all going to kick off later once the young’ns came out to play.

I can’t comment on “Cab Vol” these days, not having been in for years, and they’ve changed hands since. I believe it’s now a G1 Group bar, and so is a sister venue to The Three Sisters, Biddy Mulligans, Ghillie Dhu etc.

The Bar

Cafe Voltaire, Blair Street, Edinburgh (interior, bar)

I think these were all keg: Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted, Williams Joker IPA, Tennent’s Lager, Guinness, Heverlee, Red Stripe, Magners.

My useless notes on the price of the round tell me that it was £13.60 for 3 soft drinks and a pint and a half of unknown beer. All that tells me is it’s either expensive beer or expensive soft drinks or both. If beers are £4 a pint, then it’s still about £2.50 for a soft drink.


A small menu of pizzas are available, about 8 of them ranging from £7.50 to £8.50. There’s a 2 for 1 offer on Monday to Friday until 8pm.


Pac-Man in Cafe Voltaire, EdinburghThe finest in retro gaming! Up the back there are at least two old multi-player table consoles with loads of games from Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders etc. I could have sat there for hours, but we had to keep moving.

Did you know that Pac-Man grossed over $3 billion in around two years? That’s not even adjusted for inflation. It’s one of the highest grossing, best selling arcade video games of all time according to Wikipedia.

Castle View



Web page: www.thecabaretvoltaire.com/bar
Facebook: Cabaret Voltaire
Twitter: @cabaretvoltaire


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