The Oxford Bar, Edinburgh

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The Oxford Bar sml1

The Oxford BarI had heard about the Oxford Bar years ago. It was one of those places that kept cropping up as the favourite haunt of Detective Inspector John Rebus, in the books by Ian Rankin.

Tucked away on the quiet back road of Young Street, the bar is a haven for those seeking great company, great beer and Rebus fans alike. If you’re looking for the plastic, high volume music of anonymous chain pubs, look elsewhere. The Oxford Bar personifies how pubs should be. Places of conversation, amongst regulars and visitors alike, without the need to raise voices.

When we visited one Saturday afternoon, the bar was reasonably full, though not over-crowded. Plenty of seating available in comfortable surroundings.

Glancing around the walls were adorned with atmospheric prints of local photographs produced by Broad Daylight. My personal favourite was one titled Old College. A misty archway over a figure.

Then it dawned on me. I had seen most of these pictures before. A small poster on the wall confirmed my suspicions as Broad Daylight has produced the cover photography for the Rebus novels for years.

Now the one thing I really like about the bar is the Ian Rankin connection. They’ve managed to include things like the prints in a subtle way. The connection isn’t overblown and the subtly of it ensures an undefined familiarity, allowing even the first time visitor to sit, relax and feel at home. If you’re not a Rebus fan, the warm welcome from the staff you receive as you walk through the door fills any void.

The contradiction then hits you. Why isn’t this bar so much more famous than it is? It can’t be, because if it was heaving with queues out the door, the very character that makes this place so special would be destroyed.

So if you find yourself in Edinburgh and fancy a quick pint, or even an all day session, check out the Oxford Bar. My personal recommendation, the Belhaven Best. Lovely session ale, kept and served in tip top condition, by experts in their field.

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