By a quirk of fate, Bennets Bar in Tollcross was both the last pub I visited in 2013 and the first I visited in 2014.
A drinking establishment of some description has stood here since 1839, however it has not always been Bennets. At the far end of the bar, which features fully operational brass water taps, there’s a roaring fire and this seems to be the area occupied by those lucky enough to call this their local. Bennets Bar is at 8 Leven Street, Tollcross, Edinburgh, EH3 9LG and you can find it on Facebook here. To see our content at its best we recommend upgrading if you wish to continue using IE or using another browser such as Firefox, Safari or Google Chrome. Once deemed the land of haggis and stovies, Scotland has taken time to develop gastronomic opportunities that match the stellar reputation of its home produce. In the historic port area of Leith alone, you have The Kitchin, overseen by chef-owner Tom Kitchin, and Martin Wishart’s eponymous restaurant. The Devil’s Advocate in Edinburgh and The Milk Thistle (pictured) in Bristol are up against bars in London for the title of best bar in the GQ Food & Drinks Awards.
The shortlist for best bar, announced today, features four London bars: Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair, the Nightjar at Old Street, The Connaught Bar at the Connaught Hotel and White Lyan in Hoxton.
There are also categories for best pub, restaurant, sommelier, interior, restaurant, hotel and front-of-house person. The awards, which are in their first year, are voted on by readers of British GQ magazine and are supported by Veuve Clicquot champagne.


The final winners will be chosen by a judging panel including Tara Bernerd, April Bloomfield, Justin Carter, Matthew Freud, Matt Hobbs, Adam Hyman, Tom Kerridge, Oliver Peyton and Sir Stuart Rose. Lucky me, I should think, as a good acquaintance of mine rates this as the best pub in Edinburgh. The current pub was born in 1906 when the King’s Theatre replaced the Taylor MacLeod brewery next door. As the thousands of people who flock to Edinburgh wandered round a chilly city centre, waiting for the party to begin, we cosied ourselves up in Bennets for a few beers and a spot of lunch. Opposite the bar are beautiful mirrors above several booths and the round, glass-topped tables featuring maps of Edinburgh and Scotland are a great touch.
They are ably served by cheery, smartly-dressed bar staff who were quite taken by my acquaintance’s dog Eric, who was suitably fussed over, offered a biscuit and provided with a bowl of water.
The clientele is generally older, Edinburgh sorts with a fair smattering of tourist groups.
In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on April 28 at the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, London, and published in the June issue of GQ. They’re also genuinely useful as when I visited on 3rd January, myself and a friend were able to locate both our new offices on one of the maps and work out possible lunch options. Well, maybe, but I have plenty others to visit before I start making such ridiculous claims.


I feel this should be the kind of place where you can spend a whole afternoon or evening and not have the same pint twice but options appeared to be limited over the festive period. Look out for Stephen Fry enjoying a pint in the booth beside the front door as he and his partners in crime plot to steal artwork from the National Museum of Scotland’s depository.
Give it a go though – admire the interior, find yourself on the map and order some food.
My aforementioned acquaintance was also disappointed to find that Schiehallion from Harviestoun, normally a regular on tap, was also unavailable.
My chicken and chorizo melt with bowl of chips was tremendous while my fellow diners were impressed by their burgers and fish and chips.
It is perhaps not too surprising that the bar food is decent given that the back room of the pub is now the Skean Dhu, a standalone restaurant that has been completely refurbished in the past few years.
Our satisfying lunch was complemented by a suitably Scottish soundtrack, including Deacon Blue, Runrig and Aztec Camera, played at a low volume in the background.



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