Smoke & Mirrors
Our Beer Man’s Verdict
Another day brings yet another pub opening in Leith.
Shortly after the recent opening of the excellent Nauticus on Duke Street, Smoke & Mirrors is now open for business.
With a low-key exterior which looks unfinished to the point of looking unopened, this sister bar to the nearby Brig on Leith Walk occupies the site of the old Allan Breck Lounge near the top of Constitution Street.
I visited on a Tuesday evening and found it quiet – with half a dozen other punters dotted around – but invitingly cosy.
Exposed brick and distressed wood to the fore, trails of twinkling fairy decorations flickered in the subdued light. With comfy seats, this could be a place to linger – or nod off. It’s pleasant, and at odds with its buttock-clenching slogan: “Drink like you give a shit.”
A range of cocktails – with “freshly picked” herbs – appear to be of the key selling points.
However, I wanted to stick to beer after spending the earlier part of the evening in the Dreadnought, which has rapidly established itself as one of the finest boozers in the city.
The tasty Vienna Pale from the ever-dependable Pilot is on draught, along with some fairly tame options including Bellfield pilsner, Black Isle porter, Brewdog’s Elvis Juice and Tennent’s. There are a selection of bottles and cans, and a couple of draught lines of Thistly Cross cider. The pub is a designated venue on beer rating app Untappd, which – although it’s a paid-for service – offered some hope the offering may be more enticing.
I opt for the black lager from Eyeball: a complex and smoky curiosity I appreciate a lot more than I expected. The Surf pale ale from Jaw was less interesting, with an unexpected and unwelcome tart edge.
After that, I have a quick beer in the Foot of the Walk – yes, I know – and then it’s home.
And that neatly illustrates the problem for Smoke & Mirrors.
The pub scene in Leith is growing increasingly crowded.
The Foot of the Walk has the market for cheap beer and food sewn up, with Dreadnought and a few other notables providing decent beer options.
Nauticus already feels like the top destination for cocktails.
So where does Smoke & Mirrors fit in? I’ve got no idea – and in that low-key location it could really struggle.
I enjoyed my brief visit to this cosy establishment. It’s fine – but I suspect I’ll probably have no reason to visit again.
Address: 159 Constitution Street, Edinburgh EH6 7AD