The Isobar Leith is a popular pub with the locals and that speaks volumes. It is a pub on two levels; with the ground floor being the most popular and the smallest and the first floor being the overflow and can be strangely empty even when the ground floor is busy.
The first floor is also known as the Iso Longue and can be booked for events. It’ll take about 20 people at a push but there is a small supplemental bar in it that can be opened if you expect your party not to be holding back with the drinks. The Iso Longue was revamped in late 2011, is brighter and makes better use of the space.
The ground floor makes clever use of the space available. There are seats by the window, before a long bar shares space with some stools and then opens up into a small seated area. Somewhat recently the long centre table has been replaced with two smaller tables. The result is about eight seating areas for two to four people carefully arranged on the ground floor.
The Isobar provides free wi-fi and this is a bonus as the mobile reception is terrible.
The bar is adventurous with its food and menus. It provides a brunch menu that’s available for most of the day. A lunch and dinner menu as well as a tapas selection and specials like Sunday roast or a curry night. After a change in owners, Isobar perhaps ventured too far down the gastro pub route but pulled back to more familiar and less fancy options in response to demand. That said the chef still has an eye on providing that extra touch above standard pub grub and the Isobar is well placed to ride the food renaissance of The Shore.
It is a family owned pub and not only is it common to see the owners in the building but you can expect them to chip in take your order, bring your food and otherwise make sure you’re being served promptly and well.
I’m a regular at the Isobar and it remains one of my favourite venues in Leith. I like the atmosphere. It’s a busy place but never hostile – the worst you might expect are young children who’ve been wheeled in by parents who have correctly identified the Isobar as a sound and safe venue.
For regulars the Isobar offers a few interesting touches – such as the ability to text your order in ahead of time so you can make the most of your lunch hour. As a result you can expect to find people sitting with their laptops out, doing some work or taking part in a mini-meeting over lunch.