Ghillie Dhu is a venue Edinburgh needed. The G1 group have done a terrific job in turning the Grade A listed building, originally a Church, into a three tiered bar and entertainment venue. In August Ghillie Dhu become a Festival Fringe venue, after partnering with the Pleasance brand. The performances during the festival had a particular focus on music and cabaret, which is no surprise given Ghillie Dhu also runs weekly Ceilidh and gig nights. In the future the blog will be sure to check out the live entertainment options at Ghillie Dhu, but our experience so far is based solely on their ground floor bar.
The venue is dark and decorated in the manner of a traditional Scottish banquet hall. All we found lacking was the smell of burning peat and heather sticking out from below the seats! As such, I think it would really suit a dark winter evening, with a few drams after your meal, better than a sunny August lunchtime, when we visited. Having said all of that, the fittings were modern and clean and the staff were attentive. I suspect that any tourists looking for a slice of old Scotish style will not be disappointed.
The food is traditional Scottish fayre, so it was no surprise to find a starter of haggis, neeps and tatties (Â£4.55) hitting the mark. Ghillie Dhu’s burger (Â£7.25) was huge and unlikely to disappoint, although Â£1.50 per extra topping is excessive. Unforgivably the accompanying chips had not been cooked properly; infact a few of them were akin to munching through raw potato. While the menu choices and quality of ingredient are good, such carelessness will let Ghillie Dhu down. A guest reviewer had this to say about Ghillie Dhu’s pork belly and noodle salad (Â£9.75):
More of a cold stir-fry than a salad in my opinion, but this was still a satisfying dish. Resting on a bed of noodles were four succulent pieces of pork belly, fried to golden perfection, surrounded by an abundance of small rosettes of cauliflower and slivers of carrot and spring onion. The dish was dressed with soy sauce and ginger - a classic combination - and was very tasty indeed. The portion was ample for a working lunch but would need back-up for a main evening meal. If I were to look for faults then I would say that more carrot and spring onion were required and there was too much soy sauce, which formed a pool in my empty dish. To drink, I had a pint of Ghillie ale, which was aromatic and refreshing â€“ a good accompaniment to any hearty dish.
In the short time Ghillie Dhu has been open it’s established a solid reputation as a bar with decent service, good atmosphere and, owing to its size, a place where finding a table late at night is not impossible. A “late night scran” menu, which is served from 11pm offers delights such as a haggis or black pudding supper until closing time.
Ghillie Dhu is unashamedly proud to be Scottish, but thankfully it’s found a balance between tourist attraction and local appeal. Overall a bar to hold in high regard. Provided the chips are cooked properly, the food is good enough.
Ghillie Dhu is located at 2 Rutland Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2AD
Telephone: 0131 222 9930