The Espy is a gastro pub that looks out over Portobello promenade. On good days you can eat or drink outside. On these days, when the sun shines and Portobello beach is popular, the Espy is very busy.
It’s easy to imagine how a sunny day would make a beach facing pub busy and the fact that the Espy is very good compounds the situation. If there are two of you then you might strike lucky and get a table. If there are more of you then you really need to call ahead. I only assume booking is possible at the gastro bar, so far we’ve lucked out and got a table or glanced in, recognised just how busy the place was and moved on.
I enjoy the sort of food that the Espy serves. We’re talking about generous burgers, lots of interesting toppings and chips. I particularly like the chilli burger which I believe is called the Hombre. Whether it’s fair to call the Espy a burger bar or not, I don’t know, but I don’t use the term in a derogatory sense. I consider the Espy to be one of the best burger bars in Edinburgh.
My trips to the Espy have always been ones when the staff have been quick and friendly. It’s one of the few bars I know in which the staff have a system of calls and shouts for getting the drinks and food out in order and while it’s warm. I’ve been a few times and the calls from behind the bar have always managed to successfully shepherd the waitresses and food correctly and swiftly. It’s easy to imagine just how messy things would get, how slow service would become and stressed staff would be should this system fail. My gut instinct is that this is not the pub in which to attempt large custom orders.
The ambience and decor is mixed. You’ll get all sorts walking into a bar that sits facing a beach. It’s an old building and it feels like it. The Espy feels like a pub with dark wood tables, not the best lighting, posters and a myriad of lights. It doesn’t feel posh. It feels like a pub. In contrast there’s a wait to be seated policy and if you land a table by the window then you’ll have plenty of light and a fabulous view.
I suspect that The Espy will divide opinion but my experience of the gastro pub has always been a good one. The worst they’ve ever done is put ice in my brandy without asking when I prefer it without. The best they’ve ever done is serve us fantastic food, quickly, on a fantastic day and cleaned us a table quickly so we wouldn’t have to wait. If you ask me; that’s worth the risk!