Okay, hands up! I’m terribly late with my review of The Bullfinch, a pub in Leith. In a previous life, it was The Pond, but it has had new owners for two years now.
I’ve been popping in since it became The Bullfinch, and despite not drinking as much as I used to, I really liked the vibe of the place. If I had reviewed it, I’d have talked about the beer garden and all the indie taps as a reason to visit.
The Bullfinch turned two in July. I went and still didn’t review it. I would have talked about the quiz night, the great food and how wise booking on key nights would be. I missed my chance.
So, here we are again, and perhaps there’s a silver lining. I’ve always liked the food at The Bullfinch and might even have called it a gastro pub, but now it’s home to Guisados.
Guisados is/was a Mexican pop-up run by Jamie ‘El Cazador’ Hunter and a favourite of regulars at Bellfield Brewery and the Pitt Street Food Market (which is moving to Granton).
I used ‘was’ as Jamie and Guisados’ new forever home should now be The Bullfinch’s kitchen. That’s excellent news. Jamie’s been head chef at some popular Edinburgh locations and has travelled the world to experience and sample authentic Tex-Mex.
The Bullfinch’s vibe
The Bullfinch is a friendly place and has a mix of visitors, many of whom are regulars. I think we’ll see more tourists now as some of the new builds springing up in the area will undoubtedly become AirBnBs, and it is already not uncommon to see couples dragging suitcases along Salamander Street.
I’ve been during the pub quiz, not as part of it, but using the Bullfinch as an oasis to escape Edinburgh weather and enjoy some drinks and food. It’s not a problem. I get to eat at the bar or at the window bench.
The banter with Raph, the manager, or the bar staff is always good, and I always feel welcome.
Inside the Bullfinch might look like one of those gorgeous pubs from a previous era, but it enjoys the best modern attitudes and wisdom.
The Bullfinch’s food and drink
There are over a dozen taps, cocktails, spirits, soft drinks and non-alcoholic options in the fridges behind the bar.
There’s a Barney’s Beer sign outside, and that’s because The Pitt and Barney’s Beer own the pub. I like Barney’s Beer, but when I’m at The Bullfinch, I tend to explore new things and appreciate the chance to do so.
I’m a welcome sucker for the marketing. If there’s a special offer or a suggestion on a standup chalkboard on the bar, then I’ll often go for it. Okay, that might not be the way of a savvy and informed drinker, but I’m not, and the staff suggestions have never let me down!
But… what of Guisados’ food?
It’s gorgeous. I’ve had Guisados before, many times, at various pop-ups, and it’s never been anything short of excellent.
At The Bullfinch, I had fish tacos on the opening weekend, and the special was prawn tostadas, so I had those, too.
In fact, my only safety comment on Guisados is that if you’re a big eater like me, then order up. Go for multiple dishes. Guisados does not need to bribe you with volume and cheap cuts; the food is the highest quality, but I’m yet to see them serve a mega-sized burrito. I can’t imagine ever ordering fewer than two items.
I’ve my eye on a Thursday visit since that’s Taco Day, and I’ll be able to mix and match any three tacos or quesadillas for £10. Even then, I might order more!
There is no shortage of good pubs in Leith; heck, there is no lack of pubs in Edinburgh, so why trek to the edge of hospitality and visit The Bullfinch?
The Bullfinch is an old-style gorgeous bar with a spaciously functional dining area, fantastic staff, superb drinks, and the first-class Guisados Mexcian food experience in-house. Absolutely worth a visit!
Things to do in Leith
I think The Bullfinch is a walk from Ocean Terminal and the new Port of Leith Distillery and the Royal Yacht Britannia. I think it’s a doable walk for most people. In contrast, The Bullfinch is a quick stroll from Leith Links, where there are sometimes Leith Galas, travelling fairs and community events.