18 Morrison Street
Tel: 0131 446 1779
Reviewing a pub on open mic night is like trying to match Charlie Sheen gram for gram; challenging for the first five minutes, and then it kills you. It’s not Lebowskis’ fault that the plectrum-shredders performing on this occasion were awful. But it is their fault for having them turned up so loud as to render speaking over them impossible. Surely that’s the whole point of open mic nights – facilitating the rendition of insipid background music, best suited to heckling, jeering and small-talking over? Had we visited Lebowskis on a different occasion, we may have had the time of our lives, but now we’ll never know after our ears made us promise never to return. Nevertheless, the fact remains that we went there and it was rubbish thanks to the happy strummers insistent upon battering their instruments so enthusiastically, Joe Strummer rose from his grave and filed a noise complaint with environmental health before cantankerously returning to his eternal bed. Lebowskis’ website boasts of their ‘world famous open mic night’. If world famous were synonymous with good however, there would be statues of Joseph Fritzl in every public square.
Is there a movie-themed bar for every film ever made? Take a walk along Morrison Street and you could be forgiven for thinking as much, as evinced by recent reviews on the EU blog. In fairness to Lebowskis, there aren’t actually Big Lebowski posters plastered all over the walls; if it kowtows to Hollywood, at least it doesn’t do so as brazenly as its neighbour, Carters of ‘Get’ fame. It seems odd, incidentally, that no one has ever tapped into the potential of Disney movie themed pubs. Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, where all the drinks are served in four-pint pitchers so that your hands look really small and dwarf-like. Alice In Wonderland, where they slip a tab in your drink and what happens over the following 12 hours is best dismissed as just a crazy dream. Beauty & The Beast, where the more you drink, the more handsome the shaggy barman seems to get. Lebowskis doesn’t actually labour the movie connection, but it’s worth banging on about it anyway, as it beats talking about their abominable open mic night.
Visually, Lebowskis fares a little better, with an elegantly designed bar, natural wood flooring and an airy feel to the place. The open plan room is divided into informal zones by a series of pillars, strategically placed so as to facilitate changing seats should some weirdo keep giving you the eye. The pillars also perform the fairly essential task of holding up the ceiling, so can only be described as a most welcome feature. It’s hard to shake off the feeling that there’s something contrived or artificial about the pub however, almost as if it’s been hastily redecorated by one of those 60 minute makeover programmes. Just because you slap on some expensive wallpaper to cover the cracks doesn’t make for a classy venue, just as squeezing Katie Price into a prom dress doesn’t make for a princess.
Overpriced wallpaper aside, there are a few nice touches, like the television nestling inside a vintage picture frame. It’s the sort of flourish that feels very contemporary, although for how long remains to be seen. In 2011 it looks pretty cool, though if you’re reading this review in 2012, perhaps you’ll cringe at the concept in the same way that us 2011ers cringe at men who wear their mobiles on belt clips. The bar boasts an impressive rum and whisky collection, served by friendly staff, and also offer a great cocktail selection (who doesn’t these days?), with White Russians apparently their coup de maître. Every pub needs some sort of unique selling point; topless barmaids or an amazing jukebox, or it risks the ignominy of being just another Wetherspoon’s in all but name. Lebowskis, while pleasant enough, just ain’t got it sadly. If you’re gonna name your bar after a movie, make it a good one. On both counts.
Avoid: Open mic night, unless you enjoy the sensation of having knitting needles rammed into your eardrums. Typical prices: Cocktails £5.95 Main meals from £5.95 Scottish sharing tapas £19.95 Sides around £2.95 Soup & sandwich lunch deal £5.95
Avoid: Open mic night, unless you enjoy the sensation of having knitting needles rammed into your eardrums.
Main meals from £5.95
Scottish sharing tapas £19.95
Sides around £2.95
Soup & sandwich lunch deal £5.95