Pubs around Polwath

One of my friends has recently bought a flat in Edinburgh’s Polwarth area. So this Friday just passed we tested out some of the pubs around this area, and I’ve written up my observations in this post. Any suggestions on further pubs to visit, will be warmly received!

The Ardmillan Hotel

This is a two star hotel located here; just before Slateford Road. It has a forecourt with two picnic tables and two benches to sit on, although one bench was broken beyond repair when I visited. This outside area has become a decent spot for smokers to enjoy and is, despite The Ardmillan Hotel being on a residential street, fairly pleasant during Summer.

Ardmillan Hotel, Edinburgh

The bar area is fairly compact and very traditional, with wooden tables and pub stools. They do have Budvar on tap, but apparently it had been “acting up”, so the woman behind the bar popped a glass over the pump and I selected Stella as an alternative (¬£2.70 per pint). Somewhat bizarrely a TV hangs above the bar that shows the last order to anyone who looks i.e. what drinks the last person bought and how much it cost.

For a Summers drink sat at the couple of tables outside The Ardmillan is ok, but I wasn’t massively impressed with the main bar area, nor its atmosphere (didn’t seem too friendly).

The Caledonian Sample Room

The Caley Sample room was a short walk away on Angle Park Terrace here. Inside you find one very large room with many tables and long bench like seats; it reminds me, somewhat, of a German beer hall. It looks like on some occasions they have live bands on and the mix of people inside varied from large groups of students to older couples and elderly men: a good mix. The long bar was staffed by younger people, who could pour a good pint (conscientiously filling it to the brim) and served you with a smile and manners (something I appreciate as the customer).

The Caley Sample Room exterior, Edinburgh (2) The Caley Sample room interior, Edinburgh The Caley Sample Room exterior, Edinburgh (1)

Obviously there is a large selection of real ale on show here and I had a pint of Silver, I think, at ¬£2.45 a pint. Draft lagers are also available, with Carlsberg at ¬£2.50 per pint, Deuchers IPA is also available. The guest ale was Titanic Lifeboat, and this was accompanied by many more to choose from. The bar has a few TV’s that were showing VH2, with the volume audible, but not too loud.

Overall, I liked the good service, nice relaxed open layout of the Caledonian Sample Room, and will be visiting again to try some of their ales and enjoy the nice suroundings of this pub.

The Diggers (The Athletic Arms)

I think this pub just a little further up Angle Park Terrace here, is really called The Athletic Arms, but due to it’s close proximity to the graveyard is known as The Diggers (and indeed the posters inside the pub and sign down the side of the pub proclaim this pub as The Diggers).

The Diggers (Athletic Arms) Exterior, Edinburgh Dartboard at The Diggers (Athletic Arms), Edinburgh

The Diggers is a traditional pub in every sense of the word with red vinyl seat coverings on the long wall hugging benches and pub stools and small tables throughout the pub. It’s very well lit and didn’t seem to have any music or volume on the TV’s i.e a place where you create the noise through banter. It reminds me somewhat of the Cask and Barrel on Broughton St . At the bar were some older men reading their newspapers, while in the back-room with dart board was a large group of students. Again, this pub seemed to have a good mix of people. With it’s strong Hearts football connections, I think during match days it is full of Hearts supporters. And the pictures of Hearts players and Hearts ties behind the bar provide a further reminder of these Tynecastle links. A sign in the back pointed out the camera that was recording goings on, and I hope this isn’t indicative of any problems the pub faces with its drinkers.

Service at the bar was by older gentleman who were friendly and served a full pint: ¬£2.45 for Fosters and their malt of the month was ¬£3.50. A few bar snacks are served, that I didn’t try, but a Steak Pie would set you back ¬£1.50, a toasitie ¬£1.75 or fries were just 60p. The back room looked good for playing games in whether it be darts, backgammon, drafts or chess (all listed as being available).

I liked The Diggers as a traditional, no nonsense pub.

The Polwarth Tavern

Up to now we had visited pubs in every sense of the word, whereas the Festival Inns owned Polwarth Tavern on Polwarth Crescent here, would surely describe itself as a bar. The huge ‘Student Recommended’ banner outside presumably points to the drinkers this bar is trying to attract. And inside the groups of students occupying every table in this medium sized bar bared testament to this. Plasma screens behind the bar were showing Sky Sports news. With the pint of Carling Extra cold I drank costing just ¬£2.15, this must surely have been why The Polwarth Tavern is “Student Recommended”.

The Polwarth Tavern exterior, Edinburgh Interior of Polwarth Tavern, Edinburgh

The layout is modern/contemporary with the whole bar a shade of chocolate brown with dangling modern light fittings that create a darker atmosphere. There are solid tables and lighter coloured cubes to sit on (though I don’t like sitting on cubes!), and yes you’ve guessed it…tea-lights on each table. It’s fairly nice, but kind of short on character and atmosphere I think. And I have never seen a bar man seemingly so annoyed at his profession: he was truly grumpy and stormed about the bar like he truly didn’t want to be there - not the kind of person a paying customer wants to be served by.

Shooters are ¬£2 each and a sign pointed out some “Polwarths Lucky Chair”promotion, that if the chair you are sitting on has a number that matches the number behind the bar you win a bottle of champagne. Hmm doesn’t sound too fun to me, and neither was the temperature: the heating seemed to be up too high. The toilets were a short walk down the stairs.

It’s a different style of bar to those we’d visited previously, but I’ll leave this one in future to the students.

The Golden Rule

This is within a stones throw from the Polwarth Tavern on Yeaman Place. By this stage I’d had a few, but from what I remember it was straight back to the traditional pub here with good old pub tables and and stools. It was also fairly well lit. Bar service was good and friendly; the drinkers here were larger in numbers than at the other bars and seemed to include, what I’d think, were locals who would come here regularly. The TV’s were showing Sky Sports news with the volume audible.

Golden Rule exterior, Edinburgh Bar in downstairs room of Golden Rule, Edinburgh Game machine in The Golden Rule, Edinburgh

The pint of Tenants I had was £2.40. I also spent a few quid in one of the fruit machines. Down a few steps brings you to the sunken area, that has a bar of its own: The Golden Rule is larger than you first think. I spent another few pounds on one of those pub game machines where I hopelessly failed on Bullseye.

Overall, I found The Golden Rule a good and friendly neighbourhood pub.

3 Responses to “Pubs around Polwath”

  1. you have surely forgotten the fountian bar on dundee street.also mccowans across the road both worth a visit

  2. Very good reviews which I agree with totally having frequented all of the pubs mentioned. I lived a few doors away from the Golden Rule which was my local and I believe its just been taken over by a very good chap who has re-instated frosted Hoegardens. I’ll be re-visiting again soon!

    Thanks

    John

  3. I was brought up in Watson Crescent in the 70’s. From around 15/16 until I left Edinburgh I frequented these hostelries with my pals mine and their varous relatives. It’s so easy to see how the young in Edinburgh get sucked into a beery lifestyle. Not from despair, but from the sheer pleasure of it. It was great hearing stories from all the old drinkers, friends and family that you knew. Getting bevied and round to the Yeamna place chippy after hours.

    Christ it was rough, but it was fun, people were close, everyone knew everyone and stuck up for each other. The Diggers is probably the greatest traditional pub the Uk has ever seen. As an apprentice, I remember being taken in there at 16 with my journeyman and sinking 4 pints of heavy for the first time. It’s that good that the first two didn’t touch the sides, but I was asleep home in be by the fourth at 8.30. A short but sweet Friday night out.

    My capacity rapidly improved, but what a pint. I’ve been all over the World and nothing touched it. Everyone I’ve taken there man or woman from all corners utterly agreed.

    The Golden Spot was the Yeaman bar and sounds like no change there bar the name thank christ. As for the Polwarth Tavern, my mum still dran in ther until a couple of years ago and Aunty Betty is probably still serving behind the bar.

    Happy days and so many hilarious memories. You know when Billy Connolly left his first wife he bought a flat in Bryson Road and became well known around Polwarth. When he moved out he let it to an up and coming young comedian by the name of Robby Coltrane who also frequented these pubs as habit, mixing with us all and found often outside the chippy, with a haggis supper in his geat coat at midnight, having the crack.

    Life now in the South of France is very pleasant, but I still gag for a pint of heavy and the gallows banter of the pubs and terraces, no matter how good the cheap wine is down here!

    Come on the Jambos!

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