9A Holyrood Road, funnily enough
Tel: 0131 556 5044
The first thing that strikes you upon entering the 9A is that it doesn’t smell like a pub. It smells nicer than that, of cinnamon and wood shavings. It smells of sugar and spice and things reasonably nice, which is not how a pub should smell at all. I blame the smoking ban. It all went wrong six fateful years ago when they outlawed smoking in pubs. The one-scent-fits-all aroma that used to pervade every boozer has morphed into a plethora of random odours that vary from pub to pub. But we don’t want our bars to smell wholesome. We want them to homogeneously smell of fags and sweat and stale lager, the scent of rebellion and hedonism, not bathtime and serenity.
The 9A (or the Nay, as no one ever calls it), can be forgiven for smelling a bit safe however, as we are not here to tickle our nostril hairs – we’re here to tickle our taste buds, and to kill a few brain cells too hopefully. And it is here that the 9A wins over our hearts and minds, to use the lingo of that other Holyrood establishment not so far away. This is the sort of pub I’d make my local, if it weren’t a mile from my house and there were already a dozen pubs fighting for that dubious honour.
The Holyrood 9A proclaims to serve ‘Great beer and great burgers’, and it’s fair to say they’re in no danger of being prosecuted under the Trades Description Act any time soon – they really do serve great beer and burgers. Such honesty is a rare commodity when you’re within perjuring distance of the Scottish Parliament. If only all businesses were as accurate at describing what they do. Sadly, I’ve yet to enter a kebab shop with the words ‘You’ll regret this in the morning when you’re picking chunks of doner from your puke’ written above it.
The burgers, for want of a more imaginative word, are awesome, while the alcohol, for want of a better word, is awesome. If you nail these two fundamentals of pub management, it really wouldn’t matter if John Wayne Gacy was the chef and the burgers were his victims – the public would still flock here. And they’d be right to. Like that annoying kid at school who was naturally good at everything, the 9A also happens to look amazing. Dark wood panelling extends upwards as far as the lazy eye can see (which, for the record, is about eight feet), while the minimalist bar oozes glass and chrome chic. Add a few 7 gram rocks and reverse the smoking ban in here and this bar wouldn’t look out of place in Charlie Sheen’s mansion.
To add to the 9A’s Zeus complex, the bar staff – like the food – look utterly irresistible. So perfect, in fact, the only logical explanation can be that they’re a race of aliens sent to spy on us sozzled humanoids. Scratch their skin and watch as the entire outer membrane peels off to reveal a diaphanous bio-chemical life form. But bear in mind that such behaviour will likely result in you being barred from the pub and the entire 9A staff beaming instantaneously back to the galaxy whence they came.
Try: If you like any of the following – nice girls, nice guys, nice beer, nice food.
Avoid: If you don’t like any of the following – nice girls, nice guys, nice beer, nice food.
Burgers around £5.50