The Castle Arms
6 Johnson Terrace
Tel: 0131 225 7432
All buildings, like their owners, have greater aspirations, believing unerringly that they are better than their current status indicates. Some hope to become the best establishment within their class. Others just want to outdo their neighbours. The Castle Arms is no different from its bistro caff and gourmet pub competitors. Situated at the top of the Royal Mile and within gobbing distance of the castle, this upwardly mobile eatery flatters to deceive. If you were to take a bog standard cafe and slap up some fancy wallpaper and fairy lights, you’d end up with The Castle Arms. Any bonus points it might accrue for trying are negated by its prominent Carling banners that are about as classy as getting happy-slapped by a girl named Chardonnay. Factor in elevatorishly bland music and you’ve got an establishment that, while ostensibly ticking all the right boxes, is about as soulful as sex with a stranger. In a bus shelter.
The food is adequate but no better than anything you could drunkenly rustle up in your own kitchen at 3am armed with only a block of cheese, half-eaten box of Cadbury’s Roses and a deep fat frier. The clientele are as inoffensive as the decor, but at least the waitresses are efficient, in that bustling Eastern Europe manner in which all of Edinburgh’s service industry is efficient. With rooftop views over the Grassmarket, it’s not all somewhere-in-between-bad-and-good at The Castle Arms however. Indeed, were you to take it upon yourself to hire out the whole venue, redecorate it with permanent marker and force the proprietors at gunpoint to play only Balearic dupstep and electro-pop, it would be fair to conclude that a good time would be had by all. Until then, all we can do is aspire for The Castle Arms to one day reach such heady heights.
Try: The burger. It tastes just like a burger.
Avoid: Stopping off for longer than a pint
Starters around £4
Main courses £8
All Day Breakfast: £5.45
Selection of pints and ales on tap