The Auld Hoose
23 St Leonard Street
Tel: 0131 668 2934
Pleasance is the sort of name that belongs in white picket-fenced suburbia, so what it’s doing in the heart of dreich Auld Reekie is anyone’s guess. If your weary little leggy-pegs can make it up the unpleasant gradient however, you will be rewarded by the sight of The Auld Hoose. If you’re gonna replenish all those calories you’ve just burned off, this pub seems as good a place to start as any.
From the outside, the bar resembles a typical old manny’s pub, but from the inside, well, it also resembles an old manny’s pub. It certainly doesn’t sound like one though. Lord no. The Auld Hoose, you see, is a rock bar and it exists solely for the purpose of filling your ears with the devil’s music. This cacophony is orchestrated from the pub’s legendary jukebox, which is well stocked with all manner of aural filth. In the unlikely event of your musical tastes coinciding with mine, you’ll surely agree that The Auld Hoose has the best jukebox in town. For the rest of you however, it’s like Satan sent his personal record collection here to ruin your quiet pint. Eating one’s lunch to the blastbeats of Napalm Death makes for an interesting experience that can best be described as ‘challenging’. It is possible to eat to Napalm Death, but only with your bare hands, tearing strips of raw flesh from the corpse of a wooly mammoth.
The jukebox – which deserves another couple of hundred words at least – is a proper affair, with moving slides that are viewed like a photo album – they don’t tolerate any of that digital download pish here. Whether it’s goth, rock or metal that you hate – or you simply loathe them all in equal measure – there’s bound to be something here to piss you off. Slipknot, Rancid, Machine Head – all the great bands are here. And Spineshank too. It’s like it’s 2002 all over again, which isn’t such a bad thing if the simplistic grunting of nu-metal elicits fond memories of getting pished in sweaty rock clubs and moshing furiously to Freak On A Leash.
On the alcohol front (as, lest we forget, this is still the raison d’être of pubs, no matter how good their jukebox may be), there are a good selection of beers, including the obligatory Deuchars IPA plus a couple of guest ales from the likes of Hobgoblin and Brewdog. A menu board thoughtfully tells you what beery delights you can look forward to the following month as well. The decor of the pub incidentally, before we get distracted by the bloody jukebox again, is light and airy, with brewery posters and beermats tacked gratuitously to the walls. A rock bar that lets the light in feels kind of wrong, but is actually rather nice. Across one side of the pub, a selection of funky looking pictures from local artists are available for sale, or for free if you just stuff them down your shirt on the way to the bogs.
The Auld Hoose’s food menu promises, among other things, to serve the largest nachos in Edinburgh, and at £11 a pop, we would hope so. Indeed, for £11 there should be enough nachos for every Burgh resident to go sledding off the slopes of the castle using the tortilla chips as toboggans. With main dishes coming in at around £7.50, the food seems a bit pricey for a place that is hardly a gastro pub. For a rock bar, The Auld Hoose looks and smells clean enough, but it ain’t no Holyrood 9A, and at £7.25 for an All Day Breakfast, we’d expect a little more. Like a couple of inclusive pints and a dozen credits for the jukebox. The venison stovies sound interesting though. Situated in the heart of studentville, it is no surprise that The Auld Hoose offers 10% student discount on food ‘All Year’ – that’s right, undergraduates can purchase their nachos for a cut-price £9.90 365 days of the year – not just at Christmas. The kind souls.
The menu itself is of the cheap laminated sort that are usually found in seaside cafes, which combined with the optimistic pricing and unsavoury music (for the record we like grindcore, just not for lunch) doesn’t augur well. The menu warns ‘Please be aware we don’t serve fast food – we serve good food as fast as possible’, which is certainly commendable. In spite of this, the food arrives surprisingly quickly and it actually turns out to be… well, fine. Perfectly good. Just not £7.50 good. The paninis come served with the usual pathetic excuse for a side salad which, in fairness, is not the fault of The Auld Hoose – it’s the fault of every pub in the country that continues to propagate this poor imitation of nutrition.
The measure of a good All Day Breakfast is in its hash browns, and The Auld Hoose get theirs bang on. My dining partner (what a horrible phrase) also informed me that their sausages were much better than The Chanter’s. In fairness though, you could take a six-month old slice of Lorne, scrape the mould off it, serve it on a plate and it would still taste better than The Chanter’s. Not that we’ve got anything against The Chanter’s sausages, I hasten to add. It’s just we’d rather ram six-inch nails through our eyelids than have to eat them again. In summary then, The Auld Hoose is a great pub to get pished in, a reasonable one to eat in and an awesome one to listen to the devil’s music in, and that’s good enough for us.
Try: The jukebox. In case we forgot to mention it earlier, it’s really rather good.
Avoid: Putting on more than two tracks in a row by the same artist or your jukebox selections will be voided. It’s OK to play eardrum-melting music in here, just not from the same album, cos that would be offensive, got it?
Main courses around £7.50
Sunday roast £7.95
Food served Mon – Sat 12:00 – 9:30 and 2:30 – 8:00 on Sundays.