I’ve been a fool. For many years, I had it in my head that I wanted to avoid The Bonnington.
I had it pegged as a dark and unfriendly place, and I was wrong. Truth be told, I was terribly wrong, but that perception came from somewhere. I had been there before, ten years ago, maybe only five, and those visits clearly didn’t go well.
In the pre-Omicron era, I was persuaded to try again. One reason was the vibe from the pub itself. I often walk past; it’s got a lovely external paint job, often charismatic posters and friendly people outside. The other reason was the pub’s Instagram. It looked good
Ah, finally, a case study on the good social media can do. I’ve discovered that The Bonnington Leith is wonderful.
The Bonnington’s vibe
You must scan in and must wear a mask. This, after all, is the requirement in Scotland. I respect staff who enforce these safety rules, and I offer Level Three respect to a team that implements them charismatically, making the process seem easy and comfortable. That’s what The Bonnington’s crew do.
I mentioned the friendly people outside. Let me also reassure you that the people inside are nice as well.
Heads up! I’ve been to The Bonnington many times, but never when I suspected it would be busy. This review is written up with those calmer times as my experiences.
I’ve also mentioned the charisma of the staff. The team really are brilliant, fast and effective. I’ve had questions about the food, I’ve asked for cookies not on the menu and from a specific baker, and they’ve handled it with aplomb.
Second heads up! The Gingerbread Baker supplies the pub!
Generally, when I visit (breakfast, brunch and dinner), I share the space only with talking couples and doggos. Rowdy lads or chimneys are pretty damn rare.
The Bonnington Bar venue
The Bonnington Leith is on a ground floor and a lower ground floor. It’s built into the slope of a gentle hill.
The front door, the way in, is on Broughton Road. The back door, the way out, is on Newhaven Road. Newhaven Road heads down to Ferry Road and then Victoria Park, where you can sometimes find Jac’s coffee van.
Upstairs is the pub and downstairs the eatery or restaurant, but you can generally pick where you go.
I prefer downstairs for better social distancing. There are table nooks on one side and tables around a fire on the other.
If you’re planning to bring more than four people, I would book in advance, and that’s easy to do from their website. There’s a weird, blank and abandoned site still linked from some map profiles, so ignore that one.
Food and drink
There’s a good selection of booze, local and national. The coffee is excellent, and large colas are actually large.
It’s thumbs up for the drinks.
But go for the food. It’s so good that I’m trying to eat everything off the menu. There’s plenty of veggie and vegan options and a page long menu.
On some days, the pub opens early enough for breakfast. Pancakes! Walking up from Leith farmers market on Saturday morning is handy for lunch or brunch, or you can walk down from Stockbridge, through the back ways, on Sunday when The Bonnington opens earlier.
There’s no doubt that the food is fresh whenever you go, and that’s why sometimes the speed at which it is delivered catches me out. Given that I avoid busy times, my experience is that The Bonnington is an eatery you can go to in a hurry. Sometimes I’m still Instagramming my coffee when the main course turns up. Yes, I admit it; I’m one of those wankers!
Solo dining review
I tend to eat alone, and while I acknowledge some people find that an incredibly depressing thing to do, almost taboo, I don’t see why it should be.
The Bonnington Leith is a good location for solo dining, and I’ve seen other people do it. The tables don’t default to groups of six to eight. It’s more like two or four, and some are by pillars, in corners, or otherwise perfect for just one.
There’s no judgement from the staff, just friendly and attentive talk if you want it. Service is quick, including the bill, so you’re not left drumming your fingers while you’re waiting to go.
It’s a little out of the way for pedestrians but worth the walk. The Bonnington Leith is a solid recommendation from me.
The Bonnington Leith