I suspect its passing trade is limited, as it’s neither on Circus Place – the main thoroughfare into Stockbridge – or bohemian St Stephen’s Street.
That seems to be reflected in its atmosphere, with the St Vincent feeling very much like a local boozer rather than a destination pub or somewhere you might happen across.
Outside, it’s neat, classy and inviting.
Inside, it’s pleasingly haphazard. There’s the traditional wooden bar, comfortable green leather seats and old beer kegs fitted with cushions to perch on. There’s also exposed lighting and bare plaster on some of the walls. In some other pubs, these would be used to attempt to signify craft beer credentials, but here it just feels like they haven’t got round to sorting it.
There’s an eclectic selection of album covers adorning the wall – The Beatles and Bowie alongside Wu Tang Clan and Def Leppard – and Rod Stewart is the music of choice on my visit. I’m pleased to report this is played on a turntable, rather than from a jukebox or streamed.Somehow, the St Vincent – or the Vinnie as it’s known – works.
On a blustery midweek evening, the bar is quiet but soon fills with post-work regulars and there’s a gentle buzz of lively chat.
What about the beer? Well, the usual names – including Fosters, Guinness and Three Hop – are represented and there are also four cask taps. Unfortunately, on my visit only one is on. But fortunately, it’s Plateau from the excellent young Burning Sky brewery in Sussex.
This pale session beer (£3.90 a pint) lacks the experimental edge of some of their brews, but is pleasant enough. It’s light with a nice fruity nose, but sadly is flat and lifeless by the time I get midway through. It’s also served in the dreaded dimpled pint glass which – uncomfortable to hold and not conducive to keeping beer in decent condition – always makes my heart sink.
It would have been good to sample something else – they have featured beers from Weird Beard and Elland Brewing recently – but there was nothing on draught or in bottle that appealed.
I guess I was just unlucky on this occasion to arrive when the casks were being changed, otherwise I would happily have lingered.
The St Vincent may be a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of the charm. Everything about it feels genuine and unforced and its location only adds to the appeal, making it feel like a well-kept secret.
11 St Vincent Street
Edinburgh EH3 6SW