The Lioness of Leith is a new pub on Duke Street, just off the foot of the walk. It opens across from Tesco and after a big refit of a long-abandoned pub. I never visited the old pub, too scared to venture inside after watching the police needing to pile on in, shields up, to deal with trouble there.
What a transformation. The Lioness of Leith is striking. They’ve put big windows up. Rather than dark and scary the pub is now open, bright and inviting. I was there for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon and there were plenty of families with kids.
The inside is equally as transformed. There are big tables (and some annoyingly small seats), quirky decorations(a parrot on a chandelier over the bar, a boar’s head and a Mr Stay Puft Marshmallow Man), an arcade machine and lights. I notice on Foursquare that someone’s already added it to a “Hipster” list. Harsh… but probably fair.
As it was the weekend we had access to the lunch menu and opted for the half chicken. It was a close call. I’m used to half chickens being suitable for one person. That’s not the case at the Lioness of Leith. We shared it between the two of us, after adding lovely Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and carrots and couldn’t finish. It was £9 for the half chicken and £3 for each extra. That would be expensive for a single person but this really was more than enough for two.
The food was good. I’ll certainly go back. I took a peek at the weekday menu as it was handily on display outside and that looked a bit scary. A little posh for a Leith pub, perhaps and maybe this is where the hipster image came from. Based on the weekend success I’d risk the weekday food.
The place is new but I get the feeling it is run (or at least; staffed) by people with experience. There’s a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
They’re not too active. I hope they perk up because it does make all the difference to me now. I want local venues with characters that I can talk to easily.
I hope the Lioness of Leith is the starting point for a transformation of Duke Street. It’s a possibility as the street has been punching below its weight for years now. The Lioness of Leith appeals to me as a pub to visit after popping into the Tesco for some shopping or even as a pub to retreat to if I’m visiting the Leith Links and the weather turns bad. I imagine the place will do very well whenever there are fairs in this part of town too.
Convert an old pinball machine into a table? Welcome to the Lioness.