festdirectory TOP FIVE BARS From charming dive bars, to high class establishments, Liam Mullone picks his favourite Edinburgh bars Bar Missoni
1 GEORGE IV BRIDGE,EH1 1AD 0131 220 6666
I like this place mostly because it has no atmosphere. I spent much of my childhood living in huge hotels in the Far East, running amok through the corridors and kitchens, and even though that was a very lonely time I still find the cold, impersonal nature of hotel bars very comforting. In my childhood they all had bleak Cold War names like Sputnik and Polaris and Checkpoint Charlie’s; I’d sneak in and they’d be full of smoke and chrome and hookers. This place is just like them, but without the smoke or hookers sadly. I do miss the Cold War.
The Cambridge Bar and Grill 20 YOUNG STREET, EH2 4JB 0131 226 2120
This is a perfectly normal-looking gastropub which specialises in hamburgers. I don’t know where or if I’ve tasted a better one. It also serves Thistly Cross cider and Fruli. There are many points in a Fringe run where you need to cheer yourself up and, quite frankly, if you can’t repair your resolve with a Thistly Cross and then a bit of prime dead cow and then a pint of strawberry beer then your case, and possibly your show, is hopeless. I’ve shrugged off family tragedies with this combination.
You’re also forced to talk to people because it’s so small and often crowded, and when it’s wet outside it can be a bit like a steam room with policemen, which is a horrifying kind of steam room unless that’s your thing. I think I come here mostly as therapy for my shyness and because it feels like the 1960s.
BALMORAL HOTEL, 1 PRINCE’S STREET, EH2 2EQ 0131 556 2414
I keep bringing my bicycle to the Fringe to save money because I stay with a friend in Leith. But it’s a false economy; by the time I’ve reached the top of Leith Walk I’m ready to chain the bastard thing to a lamppost and duck inside the Balmoral Hotel where things are just so calm and hushed and polite and civilised, and everyone makes you feel like a valued human rather than damp scum. I’m a bit of
The Oxford Bar
8 YOUNG STREET, EH2 4JB 0131 539 7119
I have an irrational fear of Scottish policemen. Well, it’s not entirely irrational because they beat me to a bloody pulp when I was a student at Stirling, but I really ought to be over that by now. So I’m always quite nervous in here; it’s frequented by coppers and was the haunt of Rebus in Ian Rankin’s novels.
The Oxford Bar
a rum nutter, and this is one of very, very few places to serve Flor de Caña, the Nicaraguan blend that kicks all others in the huevos.
19 BLAIR STREET EDINBURGH, EH1 1QR 0131 220 0125
When I lived here in 1992 there was this unfortunate fashion craze for black and white, and they wouldn’t even let you in the City Cafe after 8 unless you were monochrome. Now the place seems to have got over itself it’s pretty nice, and the only real Fringey-haunt I can tolerate – even though they have weird rules about when they’ll make you a milkshake, and the staff respond to requests as if you’ve just asked them to re-grout a sink. But the food is reliably good, and in this transient, over-glossed world I love the way the decor hasn’t changed a bit since I was 22.
Liam Mullone @ The Stand Comedy Club III & IV City Café
92 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2012
times vary, 2–26 Aug, not 13, £7 – £8
The definitive Festival magazine