“ Address: 30-34 Candlemaker Row / Edinburgh / EH1 2QE „
For our first dinner out during our holiday in Edinburgh, my mum and I didn't venture far - Greyfriars Bobby's Bar was only two doors down from the flat we were renting. Part of the Nicolson's chain, the pub is located beside the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard, and opposite the statue of Greyfriars Bobby. The statue itself always surprises me - I always expect it to be bigger. But in reality it is a teeny little dog, probably life-size. Bobby was a Skye terrier who belonged to a city watchman. When his master, John Grey, died, Bobby stood guard over his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard, and became known throughout the city.
Peering in through the windows, the pub looked comfortably busy - enough people so that you're far from being the only ones in, but not so busy that it's crowded. It also looked comfortable and cosy, so in we went.
The decor of Greyfriars Bobby Bar is a bit more upmarket than most other chain pubs. I didn't feel out of place in jeans and trainers, but it did feel like somewhere a bit more special than the likes of Wetherspoons. From the blurb on the menu, Nicolsons specialise in "character" pubs, and each one is different.
We were seated in the dining area, however there is also a bar area where you can get lighter food like sandwiches. The dining area had full table service, so none of this checking the table number, going to the bar to order and then having to go back to the table to check if the other person you're with wants peas or salad. The waitress was fairly attentive, but she seemed to be the only one working in the dining area, so she was pretty busy. She took our drinks orders very shortly after we were seated, and we didn't have to wait long to place our food order.
We decided not to bother with starters, thinking we might manage a dessert - but we ended up only having main courses. I chose scampi and chips, one of my favourite pub meals. There were a few fish dishes, but only one vegetarian meal if I remember rightly, some sort of pie or tart. My mum chose salmon on filo pastry. My scampi was cooked just right, the fish being soft, moist and flavoursome, while the breaded coating had just the right level of crunch - I don't like it too crunchy, but on the other hand soggy isn't great either. My mum enjoyed her salmon as well, which was served with boiled potatoes. She didn't manage all her salmon, so I can attest to it being good too - I finished it off, which probably accounts for me not being able to manage a dessert. The pastry was a bit flat and hard underneath the fish for my liking, but the salmon was very nicely done.
I had a pint of Aspall's cider along with my meal, which is my favourite cider so I was happy with that. My mum had her usual, a ginger beer and lime, and it was in ordering this that I discovered that out of habit of my dad ordering for her and him knowing all her likes and dislikes, that she doesn't specify things like no ice in her drink. So she had ice which wasn't ideal, and she also commented that the drink was pretty much just lime.
The total cost of our meal and the two drinks was around £25, which is reasonable for the quality of the food and the pleasant atmosphere and decor of the pub. Of course you can get cheaper pub meals, but Greyfriars Bobby's Bar offers a little bit more than the standard pub.
I enjoyed my meal at Greyfriars Bobby's Bar, and I liked the bar itself just as much. It was a pleasant place to eat, and somewhere I would be very happy to return to. I'd also like to try other Nicolson's pubs: although they are apparently all different, presumably they are all of a good standard and care has been taken in creating a nice atmosphere.