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Beer of the Week (w/e 7th August 2022) with Bucking Fastard on the Pub Forum

The Cafe Royal Bar, Edinburgh

19 West Register Street

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Cafe Royal Bar

A remarkable Victorian interior, somewhat reminiscent of a Parisian 'salon de thé'. A fine moulded ceiling all around the island bar, but perhaps best known for the six tiled portraits by John Eyre dating from 1886. Also has more three more murals plus eight stained-glass windows showing Victorian sportsmen in the smaller Oyster Bar dining room off to one side. Incredibly, it was sold in the late 1960s to be knocked down to extend the Woolworths store, but the city planners thankfully saw sense and the building was listed shortly afterwards. Each side of the bar has a bank of four handpumps, with a better selection of real ale than on my previous visit some ten years ago: Pentland IPA and Radical Road Reverse from Stewart Brewing, Strathaven's IPA and Old Mortality, and Wood's Ebony oatmeal stout from further afield. A 'must' for beer-loving visitors to Edinburgh.

On 30th December 2021 - rating: 8
[User has posted 7108 recommendations about 7108 pubs]

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Blackthorn _ left this review about The Cafe Royal Bar

A good sized bar and restaurant tucked a little out the way but nonetheless only a very short stroll from the main Princes Street thoroughfare, it is quite elegant in style and clearly has an upmarket focus with various notices promoting champagne, lobsters and oysters.

Internally, the main part of the pub is one large, open plan room with a central island bar counter. There is a further “Oyster Bar” off to one side which I assume was more of a restaurant. This was separated from the main part of the pub with some elaborate carved wood partitioning, etched mirrors and stained glass. The flooring was some sort of marble style tiling and there was a high ceiling with elaborate cornice work and gold paint. Large windows on two sides were draped with dark curtains and let in plenty of light. Seating at the front of the pub was curved booths with brown padded cushions whilst there were high stools around the bar counter and at the rear. A number of large tiled drawings of scientific discoveries such as Michael Faraday’s work on electro-magnetism were an unusual and interesting feature along the rear wall. Pineapples seem to be something of a theme here and appeared in various places, including lamp shades on the bar counter and in the windows.

Beers on tap were Wild Side IPA, Greene King IPA, Stewart’s 80/-, Murray’s Pale Ale, Stewart’s Radical Road Reverse and Stewart’s Pentland IPA. Ciders though were slightly disappointing with just Aspall’s Suffolk and Old Mout Cherry & Berry. Whilst not a pub in the traditional sense, I thought this was a worthwhile pit stop, and it certainly worth a look for the architecture alone.

On 5th April 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1814 recommendations about 1738 pubs]

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Ian Mapp left this review about The Cafe Royal Bar

Destination pub if you are in Edinburgh. Just over the road from Waverley Station.

Absolutely beautiful inside - central bar - high seats all around which can make bar access tricky. Tiled murals to one side - booth seating to the other. Partitioned Oyster Bar at the end. The bar menu includes a whole lobster for £45. That gives you a clue.

Always get a decent Local Scottish Beer here - last time, It was Broughtons Pale Ale.

On 12th January 2018 - rating: 10
[User has posted 277 recommendations about 276 pubs]

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hondo . left this review about The Cafe Royal Bar

Very ornate old style bar as described below.8 real ales and food served.Makes a good double header with the Guildford Arms(10 real ales) next door.

On 15th August 2016 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2833 recommendations about 2774 pubs]

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Quinno _ left this review about The Cafe Royal Bar

The star turn of Edinburgh’s heritage pubs. A high-ceilinged, ornate interior with a large oval-shaped island bar, mirrored wood dividers, stained glass windows, fantastic moulded red gold & white ceiling, marble edging. At the far side of the pub is the star attraction, a full-length tiled wall (from 1886) depicting a number of famous inventors at the time of their particular discovery. To the right of the bar, behind the aforementioned mirrored wood divider, is a starched white tablecloth restaurant area which is also ferociously opulent. Eight ales in total with four each side though annoyingly this fact was not signposted so I accidentally missed out on a really good beer. What I did end up with were Edinburgh EPA (very good nick) and Pundie (good). At £4.10 it was an expensive pair of halves but given the location, perhaps not obviously unpredictable. It’s a real ‘must-do’ and came out second the Bow Bar in terms of pubs visited during my stay. A few yards from Waverley BR so no excuse not to stop-off next time. Incredible to think that this was slated for demolition back in the late 60’s – what the hell were people on back then? A real ‘do before you die’ place.

On 25th January 2016 - rating: 9
[User has posted 4422 recommendations about 4408 pubs]

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Steve of N21 left this review about Cafe Royal Circle Bar

This is an attractive pub, both inside and outside and is worth a visit when it’s dark, when you get the double effect of the external lighting of the Café Royal and the red interior lighting of the opulent décor of the Voodoo Rooms above the pub.
Internally the spectacular ceiling and large oval island bar are attractive enough, but the six tiled pictures on the wall of the bar of the famous inventors at the moment of their discovery justify a visit here in themselves.
The impressive interior deserves a better beer choice than that available, but three of four pumps on the go dispensing Broughton Coulsons EPA, Edingburgh Brewing Co EPA and Kelburn Goldihops wasn’t too shabby and the couple we tried were served OK.
And it is worth taking a trip up the stairs by the back of the pub to have a quick one in the Voodoo Rooms bar. This used to be a Victorian gentlemen’s club apparently and the opulence is almost over the top. Great if you can get a seat in one of the semi-circular plush booths to stare at the intricate black and gold décor of the walls and ceiling.
No real ale , but worth taking a half of something fizzy back to the booth to lay back and imagine you’ve just come back from the grand tour.

On 5th August 2014 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1836 recommendations about 1773 pubs]

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Old Boots left this review about Cafe Royal Circle Bar

Warning live review
Another Classic Edinburgh pub I haven't reviewed. I had to visit as a local landlord visited and found fault with every beer on sale here, well I've just had a faultless pint of Broughton Dark Dunster so he got a particularly bad day or ......
There's a couple of the ever reliable Kelburn and an EPA from the Edinburgh Brewing Co so I might just try that before the Abbotsford. My mistake it's a 3.4% so maybe I'll save it for breakfast . Anyone mentioned the 40+ malts?

On 19th January 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2639 recommendations about 2404 pubs]

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Roger Button left this review about Cafe Royal Circle Bar

The original Café Royal was founded in 1826 but was relocated to its new premises in 1863 a couple of years after the present building was built, initially as a showroom for gas and bathroom fittings. In 1901 it was relaunced as a pub and has now become one of the Cities most noted and famous hostelries. The building narrowly escaped the wrecking ball in 1969 when Woolworths, who at the time owned the building, intended to demolish it to make way for a car park extension but the plans were scuppered following heated protests and a petition of nearly 9,000 people. A detailed history can be found inside on a pillar by the bar.

Much of the more than impressive interior is original however the island bar is a 1979 replacement with the gantry added in 2002. The bar does tend to squeeze some of the seating to the edges making things a bit cramped so bagging one of the leather bay seated areas on the window sides is probablt the favoured option but you need to get there early.

The standout feature is the series of 6 Royal Doulton tiled murals in the main bar depicting a host of great inventors. A screen at one end separates the main bar from the Oyster Bar that now appears to be for diners with the first floor Bistro now a separately run enterprise with its own entrance. The Oyster bar contains a further 3 tiled murals and also a series of fine stained glass windows featuring sporting figures. If not dining, you can still peek through the open doorway to admire the décor.

There were 4 local ales available (Caledonian Deuchars, Kelburn Red Smiddy, Cairngorm Trade Winds and Kelburn Misty Law) albeit not much you won’t find easily elsewhere around the City. Despite being such an opulence and up-market ambience, drink prices were pretty reasonable for the area with my Red Smiddy at £3.30 although the food prices were somewhat more prohibitive to the average casual drinker.

The place should rank high on any pub visitor’s agenda and is a treat to visit but the crowds can make it a bit uncomfortable so I only stayed for one pint. Next time I’ll claim my spot early and make a longer session of it.

On 12th October 2011 - rating: 8
[User has posted 1239 recommendations about 1233 pubs]

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E TA left this review about Cafe Royal Circle Bar

The interrior, with its high ornate ceilings, intricate mouldings and interesting portraits, remains the talking point of this pub, although it had other good points too. The staff were friendly, the atmosphere was welcoming and the beer selection good. Food was disappointing, and I got the feeling the mashed potato was out of a packet judging by its texture. There were 4 ales on; I had a pint of Williams Red which was maybe on the turn but still drinkable. An OK pub which I would be happy to visit again.

On 18th May 2011 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2905 recommendations about 2872 pubs]

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I L left this review about Cafe Royal Circle Bar

Superb interior and normally a nice range of Scottish ales but when looking at the food menu thought it was a bit pricey till I realised I was only looking at the starters I soon put the menu down! Have normally got served promptly each time we have been in here and well worth visiting before going next door to the Guildford. We did have a very nice pint of Kelburn Dark Moor in here though.

On 9th November 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 287 recommendations about 284 pubs]

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