Roseleaf bar/cafe, something different for Leith

Leith has an abundance of eating and drinking options. These include Michelin starred restaurants like Martin Wishart or The Kitchin, fine fish restaurants such as Skippers and Fishers or pizza and pasta offered by Pizza Express and Guilianos. All of them do rather well, especially at the weekends. Roseleaf however tries to be different. Roseleaf’s specials menu, written on the chalk-board outside, changes by the day and the food has no theme; infact it’s pretty random. And where other pubs have moulded themselves into dining only establishments Roseleaf are happy to take your drinks only custom.

Game pie at Roseleaf Bar come Cafe in Leith, Edinburgh Warm chocolate fudge pie at Roseleaf Bar come Cafe in Leith, Edinburgh

Roseleaf pitches itself as a neighbourhood bar/cafe. It serves an enticing collection of breakfast meals from 10am until 10pm, offers free wi-fi and serves cocktails in teapots. The interior is spot-on, with an eclectic mix of furniture and ornaments, working well with the ambient lighting. The knife and fork you are given are not guaranteed to match and I doubt if they have more than two plates the same. It’s touches like this which could prove disastrous, but they don’t.

On entering, through to the right is a slightly more formal dining area, while just through the door is the main part of the bar. It’s not particularly spacious, but is very cosy - the kind of place you feel comfortable inside. Games are available from behind the bar; the table next to us were playing Connect 4, while waiting for their burgers. This is all accompanied by an appropriate musical selection. The diners and drinkers at Roseleaf are as eclectic as the interior design - we saw affluent couples there to eat, students drinking cocktails and shots of vodka and elderly gentleman sipping quiet pints at the bar during our visit. This great mix was good to see.

The food is good, but rarely great - the chocolate fudge pie (¬£3.50) we consumed being the exception, that really was magnificent and worthy of just about every menu in town. Where Roseleaf really excels though is choice. If you come here and they have nothing which takes your fancy I would be astounded. Static choices, apart from the breakfasts, include ‘Wee Ones’. Here a true mountain of nachos can be bought for ¬£6, daily dips with toasts (¬£5) or a nibble platter (¬£8). Thus making Roseleaf a great choice for drinks and snacks before a night out in Edinburgh city centre. The burgers are very good and at ¬£6.50 good value. Toasted sandwiches, pasta and more add to the always available choices.

Butternut squash, rocket and feta calzone at Roseleaf Bar come Cafe in Leith, Edinburgh

However, it’s the specials board where the most interesting choices can be found. The butternut squash, rocket and feta calzone (¬£6.95) was interesting and presented neatly on the plate. Maybe a few too many flavours, but I still enjoyed this hearty meal. The mushroom pie with mashed potato and spinach (¬£6.95) was a large portion, although the pies contents was a little simplistic. The mash potato offered by Roseleaf is of high standard though. Roseleaf’s game pie was their strongest offering and this was devoured in record time. I don’t know why chefs mix chili with chocolate - Roseleaf tried this with their chili chocolate brownie, which I didn’t enjoy - but more fool me for ordering I guess.

I really like the frequent menu changes - it’s genuinely exciting to see what’s on offer at Roseleaf on a given night. With a gradual maturing of the kitchen the consistency of their offerings will improve: though there’s absolutely no reason to not try their food now. The closest parallel I can make of Roseleaf is The Butterfly and Pig pub in Glasgow. While Roseleaf’s food is not up to their standard yet, it’s early days and certainly heading in the right direction. One thing that definitely is up to great standard is Roseleaf’s service. I’ve found all of their staff to be hugely welcoming, courteous and attentive. With at least one of the owners usually on site, I expect this to continue.

Congratulations to the two Australians and one Scotsman behind Roseleaf, it’s genuinely breathed life into Leith’s bar scene and nine times out of ten I’d prefer a visit there as opposed to the more stuffy, generic offerings to be had on The Shore. Go to Roseleaf for a drink and if you like what you see try their food. I’ll definitely be back - so long as the magnificent chocolate fudge pie returns!

Roseleaf is located on Sandport Place near the Water of Leith. It’s located close enough to The Shore area for it to be included in any visit. You can book a table by calling 0131 476 5268. Their e-mail address is, where X is @.

15 Responses to “Roseleaf bar/cafe, something different for Leith”

  1. I went for a drink in the Rose Leaf with some workmates last night and, have to say, I won’t be back. The staff were a bunch of rude pigs; the bar manageress was particularly obnoxious! What a contrast to the lovely staff at Sofie’s just round the corner. This is a pretentious, gold plated turd of a bar. I will be telling all of my Leither mates to avoid it like a nasty dose and will be writing a letter of complaint to the owners.

  2. I have to completely disagree with Kerry’s comment. I have been to Roseleaf many times. In fact it’s possibly one of my favourite pubs in Edinburgh and what makes it stand out is the friendliest of the staff. They go out their way to make you feel welcome regardless of how busy they are. On the one occasion I visited Sofi’s the staff gave the impression that customers were an imposition and they struggled to muster a smile. Perhaps the number of customers speaks for itself. After 1 drink at Sofi’s we went to Roseleaf. In Sofi’s there were around 6 customers. In Roseleaf we luckily got the last 2 seats.

  3. have been to roseleaf a few times, really tasty food, nice atmosphere.
    last time was there for a few beers late on a wed night, and was furnished with some delicious free cake.

  4. I absolutely love the ginger cocktails - so healthy

  5. I have to say that the first comment was not my experience of the Roseleaf… went there for the 1st time last night and will be going back. the staff were friendly, the food was good and fairly priced. what more can you ask… old time boozer with a new twist.

    Sofi’s on the other hand was just like comment two… a smile is never mustered and service with attitude… not like their sister bars at all.

  6. Unlike Kerry’s comments I have been in the Roseleaf a couple of times. First time with 5 members of my family age ranged from 8-81 years for food which was fabby went out there way to accomadate my daughter’s portion and what she would like to eat. Went back just last week after we had been at pic’s for a drink with hubby and my daughter again the staff were very friendly. My daughter got a free cake with her juice and the quirky cups, saucers and plates are great. My daughter loved the old type writer they have just as you go in (had a good laugh about it as no computer when I was her age), and yes we will be back again… go give it a try sure you will love it.

  7. Staff were great, decor cool and atmospere was nice. The burger wasn’t as juicy as we expected and it came with a small portion of crisps on the side - not really filling enough.

  8. I am 26 in January. I am working at the Grosvener Hotel,at Haymarket. As I live at Meadowbank this would be a more convenient place to work.

  9. I loved Roseleaf. There were 11 of us, all girls and we were given fancy hats for the madhatters tea party. Made our weekend. Thanks again x

  10. The Roseleaf is a great spot that i visit maybe once a month. The staff are freindly and helpful. I would suspect Kerry McDonald has a hang up about something. An endering quality bad mouthing a place.

  11. I had a fantastic party with 16 friends in Roseleaf on 19th Feb and the staff were amazing. Always on hand, keeping an eye on empty glasses etc but not hassling or pushing us in any way. We sat on for a while after we finished eating and they were happy to leave us. Food was good, especially the cullenskink.
    Its a fun place - serving cocktails in china teapots with china cups.

    In contrast, Kerry McDonald sounds disgusting and I suggest no one pays any attention to the rude comments he/she has made.

  12. On reflection, why did the moderator allow such offensive language from KM into a bar/cafe review? Constructive feedback is fine - sheer rudeness is not necessary.

  13. Rose Leaf is very hit and miss - the owners have clearly put a lot of effort and attention to detail into creating a pleasant environment, the decor is imaginative and charming, and most of the staff are extremely charming too but, when guests at my hotel ask for bar recommendations, I tend to suggest Sofi’s because it is a safer bet, a couple of the Rose Leaf staff are spectacularly rude and, if visitors are only in Edinburgh for a few nights, it is not worth running the risk of ruining an entire night. One specific barman has come up a lot in the feedback I was getting, so, we had no choice but to remove Rose Leaf from our list.

    Again, the vast majority of the Rose Leaf staff are extremely nice but there are a couple who just don’t get it and, as someone with a lot of experience in the hospitality industry, I would guess that this is because the owners are not paying attention to the experience that customers are having when they, the owners, are not on the premises.

    This is a very common mistake in new businesses; it is tricky to stop younger male staff going off on power trips and inexperienced owners tend to make the mistake of thinking that staff always act as they do in front of you. It takes a certain amount of guile to work out which of your staff are spoiling your reputation and, then, a lot of effort to help inexperienced bar staff to understand that customers are easily offended and unlikely to return if you humiliate them, even slightly.

    For now, Rose Leaf has a lot of potential, but they are haemorrhaging a lot of good will, I would love to see the owners pay a little more attention to the customer experience, particularly at night, I think they are really onto something but they need to pay more attention, small details like this can destroy a business.

  14. John B is about right. It’s a lovely bar, a little bit different but ina nice way. We were in a large party and clearly the staff and kitchen couldn’t cope. The food was very average, it says on the menu that it takes 20 minutes to cook a burger, not sure why but mine certainly tasted like it had been cooked for twenty minutes, dry and grey inside and fell apart when you cut it. the (male) waiter serving us was cheeky bordering on fairly unpleasant.

  15. The Roseleaf is quite a pleasant place to sit and have a drink but sometimes the idea of ‘informal dining’ is taken too far: there needs to be some boundaries between staff/customers. The food was OK, but nothing great; not of a very high standard and in most cases overpriced. The menu changes so regularly that its difficult to keep track of whats going on: the atmosphere is a bit to crazy. The food is often overcooked, either too much or too little on the plate: they can’t seem to get it right. Staff don’t show much respect to customers. Agree with the above comment - fairly unpleasant (overall).

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