There have been a few closures in Leith in recent months, so it’s pleasing to see that disappointing trend reverse with an opening.
Cocktail lounge Bond No9 on Commercial Street was one of the casualties, moving to Picardy Place after a dispute with the head tenant.
However, Wolf + Water has moved quickly and opened in the premises it once occupied – and an afternoon meeting nearby offered an early opportunity to check out what was on offer.
From the outside, little has changed – although my heart did sink at the cheerful chalkboard sign outside which trumpeted the “craft + draft”. In my experience, the quality of beer offered by an establishment and the knowledge of its staff is usually inversely proportional how often and how loudly it uses the word “craft”.
And, sadly, so it proved here.
It’s a nice enough place, with the sophisticated décor in main bar area dominated by dark, distressed wood. The soul music – not so much background as gently blaring on my visit – completes the vibe.
The spacious main bar area is a bit gloomy. With dim lighting and dark furniture, it feels – even on a bright day – like the life has been sucked out of the room. A green neon sign near the bar – about the boy who cried wolf – brightens things somewhat.
If that’s all too much, then the conservatory looking out on to Commercial Street is bright and airy, with softer, lighter furniture.
I’m the only customer and have the opportunity to peruse the beer on offer. The selection of draught – sorry, draft – doesn’t excite. There’s a few big mainstream names like Guinness, Best, Carlsberg and San Miguel along with a handful of other beers which suggest craft credentials to unsuspecting punters, like the seriously under-whelming Charles Wells and Dogfish Head DNA IPA. And it’s all keg, with no cask.
The bottles are a little better, at least offering Duvel and Brooklyn alongside Innis and Gunn.
I opt a half of the Meantime London Pale (£2.25) to start. They aren’t a brewery I get too excited about but, even so, this is a disappointment – like gassy lager.
It feels unfair to cut my losses after just a half pint so – after some internal turmoil about what I could possibly drink next – I have a half of the Shipyard Pale Ale (£2.25). It’s slightly better, at least having some malt character to give it some backbone.
The staff are pleasant and helpful and the food menu is compact but appealing, offering an tempting-looking range of modern bar staples.
I know it’s early days and I’m not the target audience, but I suspect it will appeal strongly to the people who used to frequent Bond No 9. However, it certainly won’t work for anyone who is looking for quality beer, “craft” or otherwise.