The Conan Doyle, a good pub but average grub

I’ve always liked the Conan Doyle pub in Edinburgh and quite enjoy watching sport there, as it’s usually quieter than other city centre pubs. Situated on the corner of York Place The Conan Doyle offers good people watching opportunity over Broughton Street, Picardy Place and the Omni Centre. Near the pub stands the statue of Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes. The statue is close to 11 Picardy Place, where Conan Doyle was born. Subsequently Conan Doyle studied medicine at Edinburgh University and he is remembered by a large collection of pictures and books inside the Conan Doyle pub.

Haggis, neeps and tatties at the Conan Doyle pub in Edinburgh Hunter's Chicken at the Conan Doyle pub, Edinburgh

The Conan Doyle is a traditional pub, with a largely wooden interior. I like the bay windows; some have small seats which give the pub a quirky edge. The main bar area is up a few steps and the dining area is a small descent from the main bar area. The Conan Doyle don’t take bookings on a Saturday and when Scotland are playing rugby or football they often stop serving food. When the Conan Doyle is serving food the seating in the sunken area is usually only available if you’re eating.

I previously watched the Scotland versus Italy football World Cup qualifier at the Conan Doyle and I made a mental note to return for food as it looked rather appetising. The food I received on my visit was ok, but I have to admit, fell short of my expectation. It was distinctly average. I had been expecting much more.

I had the haggis, neeps and tatties for starter (£3.25) and my dining partner had this for main (£5.50). I still remember the Summer of 2007 when I had the absolute pleasure of haggis, neeps and tatties at Cafe Gandolfi in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Sadly the Conan Doyle’s haggis was to prove poor, yet considerably cheaper, by comparison. The haggis itself was the sliced variety which has been pan-fried. I prefer the more traditional haggis which is boiled in a casing. The Conan Doyle’s neeps and tatties were pretty decent though. And the quantity of neeps and tatties served with the main course could easily have fed two people.

For main I had the Hunter’s chicken (£6.95). This would win no awards for presentation, with the chicken topped with bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce served in a dish alongside a scattering of chips. It tasted better than it looked though; infact I quite enjoyed the fresh chicken. One aspect The Conan Doyle does very well is variety. Burgers, steaks, potato wedges, toad in the hole, lamb shanks, roasted chicken, fish and chips, sausage and mash and duck confit to name but a few. If the execution was slightly better the Conan Doyle, with it’s good location and pleasant interior, could become a real player in the gastro-pub scene.

However, it would be unfair to be too harsh on the Conan Doyle’s food as their dishes are inexpensive. I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the Conan Doyle specifically for food, but if you’re watching the sport, after an inexpensive meal while shopping or need some ‘pub grub’ to counter the effects of alcohol, then the Conan Doyle is a decent choice. I’ve always found the service at The Conan Doyle above average i.e. I get served at the bar quickly and the table service, although usually only one person, works well.

Certainly try the Conan Doyle for a drink: it’s decent and gets a good mix of local folk and tourists. As said earlier The Conan Doyle is a wildcard choice for watching sport, due to the three widescreen displays they have, and the likelihood it won’t be overcrowded. The title of this post says it all really.

The Conan Doyle is located at 71-73 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3JD. Telephone: 0131 524 0031.

7 Responses to “The Conan Doyle, a good pub but average grub”

  1. Connon Doyle has great food and a great atmosphere but the staff are as grumpy as hell. Still once you order and receive you can sit back and enjoy your evening. Great long standing pub.

  2. Had a lovely hour after shopping at Christmas 2008 and got caught up in the sports traffic, however, the atmosphere was fab. Mananaged to get a wingback chair all to myself, so was happy as a pig in glabber! Hadn’t eaten on this ocassion, but a year before had traditional fayre and average but tasty. Good price for large red and white wine, always a bonus. All I needed was a pipe and a deer stalker!(ha). Getting drunkish in a library appeals.

  3. After frequent visits ( more than they deserve) to this pub I now feel the need to write about the terrible service in this establishment. Although the food ordered was of decent quality and value, this was overshadowed by dirty tables, unclean surroundings ( some sort of moulding fruit on the radiator!) and terrible service from both the waitress and bar staff. A little manners go a long way. Unfortuantely it appears everytime I’ve been in here, regardless of who is working, the bar staff are very rude.. including what I assume was the manager.. leading by example I see!

  4. The Conan Doyle is not for the faint hearted. Cold food on cold plates served by cold people and the beer was so bad I left about a third of the pint. I’ll never be back and would never recomend it for either a meal or drink.

  5. Bar staff was dreadful. My brother in law brought me there because of my love for all things Sherlock Holmes. A huge disappointment after the service I received in other pubs in Edinburgh.

  6. I phoned up to see it they were a child friendy pub, to be told it was but if we had to wait would be asked to leave as children are nippy. Was discussed that they would even say that so we went some place else.

  7. first time i have ever eaten in the conan doyle , the food perfect drink lovley and cold ,the surroundings very comfortable,very helpful the staff.very busy that tells you that it is very popular.you cannot book a table the policy is first come first served. so we orded our drinks at the bar and waited ,turn around was reasonably quick. i could of sat there all night. we will be back. i would recommend the beatuifuly cooked beef burger with jumbo chips, to die for, that hit the spot,and not expensive.

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