A traditional boozer receiving a facelift to woo a fresh crowd seems to be a regular occurrence in Edinburgh now.
And this time, Bar Sienne near the foot of Leith Walk has been transformed into Brig by the owners of the Old Chain Pair in Newhaven. A midweek early evening a few days after its opening offered a first opportunity to sample what was on offer.
My first impressions were positive – bright and welcoming outside, it feels stylish and relaxed inside.
The décor is an eclectic mish-mash. So we have red airplane-style floor lighting, a huge sparkling chandelier and illuminated bulbs on one wall which shout out BRIG. The neat little booths round the walls are made from reclaimed wood and, curiously, there are small tables attached to the bar made from whisky barrel lids. It’s all a bit random, but quite pleasing.
The beer selection is pretty routine with staples like Tennent’s, Heverlee and Caledonian Best on keg, along with Drygate’s Gladeye IPA. There are bottles from Brewdog and Innis and Gunn chilling in the fridge.
There’s just one cask beer offering, but is a bespoke Brig blond brewed – as the pump-clip proudly proclaims – just 50 metres from the pub by Pilot.
So I start with a half of that (£1.75) – and it’s great. Described as an oatmeal pale ale with New World hops, it’s wonderfully light, aromatic and refreshing, with a slight creaminess from the oats. It slides down a treat, so I have another.
The Gladeye IPA from Drygate – which I normally quite like – is less impressive. My half pint (£2) is served with an exuberant proud dome of dense foam, but tastes dull, sludgy and lifeless with no aroma and little of its usual sharp hop bitterness.
The food menu looks interesting, with traditional pub grub staples like burgers and nachos augmented by creative street food including fish tacos, skewers and curry.
Fairly quiet when I first arrived, Brig was pretty busy when I left and the gentle buzz in the bar – fostered by the amiable bar staff – gave the strong impression it already has a solid customer base.
All in all, Brig is a likeable place – although those attractive looking wooden booths are pretty uncomfortable – with its own quirky, distinctive vibe and I hope it does well. Apart from the excellent house brew from Pilot brew, the beer won’t thrill – but, fortunately, it has other charms to recommend a visit.