Carters Bar

185 Morrison Street
Tel: 0131 228 9149

Is it possible to review a pub called Carters without using the prefix ‘Get’? No. OK, now we’ve got that out of the way, we can proceed without using that stupid phrase ever again. (Coming soon: a review of Lebowski’s that doesn’t contain the word ‘Big’.)  Towards the Haymarket end of the interminable thoroughfare that is Morrison Street lies this flamboyant little pub, awash with more styles than a haute couture catwalk show. The decor, just like the clientele, is varied, with all sides of the colour wheel catered for. If you can’t find something – or someone – you like in here, you must be too drunk to see straight, or possibly just too straight.

If you can’t find something – or someone – you like in here, you must be too drunk to see straight.”

Downstairs, the eclectic bar manages to cram in a book and newspaper section, a silver cake stand bedecked with Tunnocks tea cakes, leather armchairs, American-style bar signs, fantastical murals and faux-period paintings. Upstairs is equally diverse, with psychedelic artwork and corniced ceilings that are reminiscent of a Victorian parlour. Meanwhile, a hodgepodge of tunes are spun on what sounds like warm, crackly vinyl, encompassing everything from Sinatra to The Beatles. The upstairs balcony also seems to have a resident gay drunk whose raison d’être is to peer curiously over the shoulder of wannabe reviewers, causing them to have to scrawl their writing so illegibly as to render later transcription nigh impossible. If this write-up makes no sense whatsoever, you’ll know why.

The laminated table menu boasts that iconic image of Michael Caine, shotgun in hand, just to make sure you get that it’s Carters. Get Carters, get it? Oh, never mind. An apposite movie quote is also painted across one of the beams, while upstairs there’s a Michael Caine film poster declaring that Caine Is Carter, just in case you’re still struggling to make the connection between the name of the bar and the film it is affiliated with it. Halfway through my maiden pint, I discovered to my horror that neither I nor my regular drinking partner (henceforth to be known as DP) had seen Get Carter. Indeed, such was our ignorance of this must-see, utterly unmissable film, we could have been served by Michael Caine himself and wouldn’t have known it. (OK, so we could probably have matched his face with all those film posters dotted around the pub, but we’d have been stumped had he engaged in small-talk about the movie’s subplot, if indeed it has one.)

Get Carters, Get Food

The food – like everything else in this place – is varied, boasting everything from homemade soup to Michelle’s homemade tortilla and salsa. Whoever Michelle may be, she makes a very reasonably priced dish, for at £2 a pop, it’s a whopping 5½ times cheaper than The Auld Hoose’s version. A chalk board lists all the usual pub grub staples, including chips in a basket, a dish that’s always perplexed me. Having been been raised on the understanding that the only thing one should expect to find in a basket is baby Moses, it seems wrong that in the 21st century this woven wonder is used for little more than holding greasy chips. While there are other foods that are even less suited to being served in a basket (soup springs to mind), couldn’t we just abandon this nonsense altogether and stick to using plates? In something straight out of Sweeney Todd, the menu board also ominously invites diners to ‘Ask about the special pie…’. Or is that just another memorable quote from Get Carter that I’m too ignorant to pick up on?

Try: Going to the bathroom. Even if you don’t need to go, just go. If Edinburgh has a top ten pub toilets, this place has to be right up there.

Avoid: Nicking the Heinz ketchup and HP sauce that sit unattended on the upstairs table, just pleading for some drunkard to pop them in their bag.

Typical prices: From £3 a pint. Stella, Red Stripe, San Miguel and BrewDog 5am Saint all on tap.

Hummus & pitta bread £3 Chips w/ garlic mayo £2 Soup w/ toastie £4 Nachos & chilli £4