Mon-Sun 10:00 - 0:00
- Outdoor Seating:
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Good for Groups:
- Price Range:
- Best Nights:
- Sat, Sun
- Full Bar
- Outdoor Area/ Patio Only
- Coat Check:
- Noise Level:
- Good For Dancing:
- Has TV:
- Wheelchair Accessible:
Recommended Reviews for The Espy
30 reviews in English
Review from Rachel R.
I really liked the Guilty Lily, which was owned by the same people as The Espy with a very similar style and nearly identical menu, but alas it closed down at the end of 2012 and was reborn as the decidedly normal Bonnington. However, for my kooky, vintagey needs I can always go to The Espy.
Situated on the Portobello esplanade (hence the name) it's that little bit far for me to come regularly, but it's right by the beach so can easily be combined with a pleasant post-prandial promenade. The interior is a bit mismatch in a good way, old-school film posters and Aussie influences, and it's a welcoming looking place. Last night we were unfortunately seated at a table on a platform next to the loos - not the best seats in the house (but all that was left) - but still okay and with a view over the rest of the pub.
Our waitress was new but friendly and attentive, although the food took a while to arrive - this used to happen at the GL too. We weren't in a rush, but the Spanish couple next to us had two small children and, upon arriving at 8.45pm, were warned that they'd have to leave by 10pm due to the licence. This would have been fine had their mains arrived earlier than 9.50pm! They had had a starter, but that's still too long await especially given they had a set time to be out by...
We all went for burgers - myself the Espy (beef burger with camembert and onion jam), my boyfriend the MacEspy (with haggis) and my sister had their vegetarian offering, which was very crumbly. The burgers aren't perfect, and they're too thick to eat properly, but I have a real soft spot for them - the meat tastes good and I just love the slightly melted camembert.
Drinks are all pretty reasonably priced, I was driving so had a diet Coke which was less than £2, and cocktails are around the £6/7 mark. Boyfriend finished off his meal with a Zombie, made with his favourite rum Kraken. It's served in a cute Tiki mask glass and yes, it's on fire.
We don't come here often as it's not the most convenient location for us personally, but when we're in Portobello we'll stop by for a burger and a pint and generally have a pretty good time.
Review from Donald M.
The Espy has a lot going for it, based right next to the seaside, a few tables outside giving the option to eat or drink alfresco. Inside is a different matter where there is a lot going on and shouting?
You get the feeling of disorganisation not the staff but the way it has been set, I got the vibe of lack of leadership or people where unsure of what they where doing or even scared. The walls are covered in what could be described as tac as in rubbish that has no rhyme or reason just needed a de clutter Staff where polite and helpful and the food was good especially the burgers.
Film nights every Monday.
Pint of west beer
Wallpaper in men's toilet
Review from Deborah M.
- 9 friends
Pretty decent seaside cafe featuring gastro-pubby food, nice views and good service. It fails a little on the pricing but it is one of perhaps 3 options along the Porty waterfront and I happen to like it best so far. Big bonus points for the quality draught pints I have had here and the nice kid's menu. Good quality table service for children is always a happy thing and The Espy hits the target. This involves taking the kid orders first and making sure the kid food is out sharpish. The veggie burger was good, the nachos were nice and the fish dishes tasty. I am told the breakfasts are great but have not tried them yet. It's a nice, relaxed place to find yourself. Recommend.
Review from Killian M.
- 7 friends
One thing I've got to say about Espy: location! There is something fantastic, magical and totally irresistible about the twin street-and-beach positioning of this gasto-pub type affair, perched invitingly on the sea front, with two walls facing you while you stare in at happy-looking diners.
I had actually come across a few negative reviews of this place (and some decent ones) - none negative from Yelp - and as a result didn't plan on dining here on this particular Portobello visit.
But that magical location cannot be resisted!
I have to say the negative coverage I'd been exposed to was unjustified, in my opinion. I found the whole experience respectable, and generally satisfying. Service was reasonably good and food was reasonably good too. Plenty of burgers on the menu, but there was a good range of daily specials, which looked nice as waiting staff wandered by wielding them. And let's not forget its pubby side: the drink selection seems respectable at a glance, so thumbs up. The lounge area - which I didn't sit in - looked like a winner to me: nice a low, attractive and comfortable looking.
I'd love to offer more enthusiasm about The Espy, but sometimes you've got to admit that you're just happy enough with an experience, and that it was just good.
But you know, I don't need to rave about it because all YOU need to do is wander by and let that location suck you in. I'm telling you: you'll be in the door before you can say "damnitIwashopingtogoforajoglater".
Review from Tanja R.
Refreshing, Homely, Convenient!
The pub/restaurant is conveniently located at the beach side. If you are strolling along Portobello Promenade and feel you need some rest and a bit of food or just a warm drink (dependent on the season) then this place provides shelter and attentive comfort.
I like the rustically looking interior, the wood tables and chairs, nice views onto the sea (dependent on where you sit), the helpful stuff and the space it offers.
I can imagine the place being ideal for bigger parties. Certain parts can be closed off, but at the same time the party noise could inconveniently disturb other pub goers. Could be worth a try so.
Last time we visited there was a party at one table with about 10 people, practically seated on a table in a corner and we did not hear them at all. Well, let's just say - it was luckily not a children's party, but then you would not really have a party for a youngster in a pub, right?
We did not eat there at this time, but I am looking forward going back and have a bite.
Review from Rayan D.
I like that on a rainy day at the beach this place provides a save haven ! It is a spacious and warm bar / restaurant. Part of the place is set aside for food service overlooking the beach and sea -but we were not refused when we only wanted a drink. Big tables and hard wooden chairs (not very comfortable for a long stretch.)
We had a quick look at the meal options, but not much fancied our appetite. The mash potatoes and the chili con carne was interesting but not very special (for us) we did see many families enjoying the food. They had Staropramen on draft which is not that usual these days. So I was instantly pleased. We were also been given a big carafe of iced water.
What makes this 4 stars? I am not sure about this place, I like it, but it is divided in its flavours and ambiance. It has a lounge, bar and restaurant area. In the lounge you can actually play some games from the selection they have available, chess, monopoly, scrabble etc.. Nice touch. They are also catering for the dogs and their masters and even though there were a lot of them, no excessive barking or fights. In fact it was all quite tranquil.
What is missing? Identity, This place has it all, seemingly, beach location, food, passing trade and many locals. It keeps the flavour quite bland and at the same time trying to be too much for to many people. I guess in the summer months that doesn't really matter but in the winter you try to buy in to a 'cosy, warm and home feel of a place' and that was missing.
A big compliment is to the staff, they are so friendly, attentive and chilled that they make you feel at ease from the first greeting!
Will I be back? - yes - when I am at the beach I will try to have a little nip in here.
Review from Emily H.
Not quite 4 stars, a bit more than 3 - so 3.5 stars from me for the Espy.
We stopped in here after spending the afternoon in the Turkish Baths at Portobello Swim Centre. In need of food and rehydration (and a bit of beer-drinking dehydration), The Espy was conveniently located and looked good.
The decor is a bit unusual - kind like a Scottish version of a US diner, and while comfortable enough, it did feel a bit cold, like it hadn't really been thought out.
I was kind of weirded out by the fact that there were pitchers of water already on the tables. Certainly convenient, but we have no idea how long that pitcher sat there before we arrived, which gave it a slightly unsanitary feel.
We opted for burgers because there really wasn't another option for lunch. I really wasn't in the mood for a burger, but didn't fancy pasta or whatever else there was on the menu. What happened to sandwiches, or a salad or something light?
I asked for a burger that was a combo of a couple of different options which I guess took the waitress by surprise because her response was curt and unfriendly.
Our (enormous) burgers arrived with a nice salad and chips. At this point, the waitress' demeanor changed to comment that my burger order actually looked really good. It was... basically. It was a perfectly acceptable burger, though the meat didn't taste seasoned, and it was far more than I could eat. I wish more places offered different sizes of burgers because it always seems like such a waste of food.
So a totally fine experience in all, but I definitely didn't walk away feeling wowed by the place enough to make a point to return.
Review from Nadya S.
Stopped off here for dinner on New Year's Day after a walk along the prom to blow away the cobwebs. It's a lovely cosy pub & half of Edinburgh/Porty must've had the same idea because it was mobbed.
After a wee wait for a table we shared the baked Camembert & onion relish for starter. It was delish. Lots of toasted flatbread for dipping too.
I opted for the beef pie for main. It was full of flavour & really tender. Buttery peppered cabbage & mashed tatties meant it was perfect comfort food. Would also be good for anyone with a hangover to cure.
The OH opted for a Porty burger. It was huge. His chips were proper hand cut chunky things & he polished it off in record breaking time.
On the beer front, lots of yummy sounding stuff to try. I have signed up for the Cancer Research Dryathlon so couldn't partake. Ah well, any excuse to return in Feb ;-)
Review from Lloyd W.
Review from Andrew D.
- 18 friends
Living on the beach I am lucky enough to enjoy all the little idiosyncrises and oddities that separate it out from life on a city centre street. Instead of watching out for wild car drivers you have to be mindful of a rouge child being chased after by a windswept and excasperated parent. Instead of car fumes faint aromas of seaweed and salty sea tantalise your nose. Instead of bookies and chip shops craming into tight city center shops, you have penny arcades lining the way providing a place for children to waste their pocket money (or a place of shelter when the Scotish weather takes it's usual turn for the worse).
To be situated so close to the city (only 20 minutes by bus) this is another of Edinburgh's hiden little gems.
For anyone making the trip along to Porty it is my opinion that you will have missed it's greatest attribute if you miss The Espy.
A quirky and fun little pub, with giant spiders and inflatable kangaroos adorning the walls, the pub is split into two halves. One half is for those of you who have a few hours to spare to really enjoy the big sofas that will engulf you in their comfort and you'll not be able to drag yourself away! This side also has a range of books, travel guides and games to help distract you from the bustling world outside. The other half is more traditional. Tables and chairs for those who are only there for a drink, bit of banter or a bite to eat.
The food here is nothing short of YUUUUUUUUUUUMMMY! From the biggest gourmet burgers to whatever you are lucky enough to see on the specials board you will not be disappointed. I like their menu as well as the chef clearly knows best how his food should be cooked and he tells you! One minor downfall I went for a veggie burger on one occasion, I like to see how the other half live sometimes, as tasty as it was I found it quite hard to eat as it crumbled a bit too easily for my liking.
The staff here are very good as well, even remembering my order down to the type of wine I was drinking even though I hadn't been in for a few weeks. They are attentive without being intrusive and ensure that your visit is an enjoyable one.
They do offer various themed nights, they have film nights, live music and they are even having a murder mystery night coming up!
If you ever find yourself taking a leisurely stroll along the promenade and you fancy a bit of shelter from the sun, or more likely the driving wind and rain, then there is no better place to settle down for the afternoon for a nice pint than The Espy.
Review from Qype User (WeeSi…)
- 0 friends
- Qype User WeeSi…
Went in for lunch & was refused table with sea view since it was allegedly reserved for 3 people. Ended up in a dark drafty area. The table we requested was then used by TWO people. Menu was very limited, basically burgers, a steak, mackerel or veggie dishes. We ordered & after waiting over half an hour asked where our food was as people who came in after us had been served. The waitress said she wondered the same thing & sent a waiter over who explained it took such a long time to cook a steak to perfection but they were setting it up now. Food was ok with the limited choice but an attempt at haute cuisine left me hungry. Wont be back.
Review from Sam K.
- 20 friends
San Mateo, USA
Solid pub with reasonable food, spotty service. I went here on a friday night after playing Ultimate Frisbee on the beach for a couple of hours. Great selection of beers but a poorly laid out bar area made finding a spot difficult. There was some confusion over getting a table, but eventually we did wind up in the bar area, a comfortable room apparently quite dog friendly, as there were several mixed species group sitting around relaxing. The dogs were very well behaved and attentive, which is more than I can say for the service. Admittedly it's a crowded pub on a Friday, so I understand... but still didn't appreciate the long wait and poor service. The food was decent. I ordered a ribeye, medium rare. It was a tasty piece of meat, undercooked and tough sadly. The chips were nice, but the side salad was bizarre. It was basically a naked bowl of bitter greens, large and unwieldy, which I didn't finish.
Overall a nice spot, and a good place to get a pint
Review from Catriona C.
Popped in here for a couple of beers and something to eat. The first beer - Sunchaser, was flat as the proverbial, so tried another, that dagnamit I can't remember the name of now, but it was a much better beer than the first. Overall, though I wasn't completely amazed by either.
We both had the veggie burger - which was pretty darn tasty, although personally I would prefer a teensy bit more chilli sauce as that was hitting the tastebuds in just the right way. My drinking buddy was of a similar opinion. More is more in this case!
The Espy is definitely a welcome addition to Portobello promenade (ok I have no idea how long it has been around for but it's new on the scene for this returning local).
Review from Marj C.
The Espy is a delightful wee bar situated just off Portobello beach.
It looks nice, the food is nice, the staff are efficient and they have a variety of beers on tap (a couple of which I hadn't even heard of).
I was attracted to this place purely by the peculiar but charming shape of it. It peeks out near the beach and looks a fair bit more upmarket than some of the more traditional pubs on Portobello's High Street.
It is, however, very laid back, from the prompt but chilled out service to the general vibe of this place. Best enjoyed on a rare sunny day after you've dipped your feet in the sea and fancy nipping off the beach to grab a cooling pint or wee cheeky glass of wine.
Review from Terry W.
- 12 friends
This is an attempt to have an upmarket bar, next to Portobello Bar, serving good food and snacks. The problem for me however, is that I don't really want seaside promenades to have bistros next to them, I like the old traditional pubs, that may look rough as, but are booming with character. I would much rather have a greasy chippy than a "gourmet burger" that costs £8.50.
However, not everyone that comes here are day trippers from the city, and I am sure that if you were a local resident, the novelty of a greasy chippy has either worn off or never existed. The Esplanade Bar, or The Epsy as it is known for short offers good quality food and is a good place to enjoy some good quality, although a bit pricey, food besides the sea.
Review from Qype User (-adam…)
- 41 friends
- Qype User -adam…
This is a smashing little pub/restaurant situated along portobello seafront. It's great for either an afternoon pint, evening meal or night time session which creates a lively and varied atmosphere in the place.
It's got a strong aussie feel to it but not in the annoying, commercialised way that a lot of Aussie places e.g. Walkabout do.
The beer is kept well the staff are friendly and the food goes down a treat.
Starter- Assortment of homemade hummous with flatbreads which beats the hell out of supermarket hummous.
Pinched Starter- I must also mention that i tried some of my friends rabbit on oatcakes and it was amazing.
Main- Lamb Burger was succulent, juicy and veeeery tasty, though it was one helluva burger and in the end it defeated me.
Dessert- Chocolate Brownie Very rich and tasty but a little too gooey for my liking, I prefer them cakey but it's just one of those things.
All in all, a great place!
Review from Qype User (Strom…)
- 16 friends
- Qype User Strom…
How wonderfully to find the delightful place almost on my door step I am very proud to call this place my local.
DRINK- Very yum indeed with tasty cocktails and decent range of beers.
Food. Wow HUGE amounts of top notch tucker I highly recommend skipping lunch if going there for dinner. You will not want to leave any of the loveliness on the plate.
Atmosphere & layout; The lovely place by the sea very friendly and social there are alot of quirky thing hidden around the place. Plus I noticed a nice selection of board games. Not only that they have some nice couches and comfy seating all around. oh and Wi-fi
(this makes a huge difference considering this place used to be a pubby pub )
Staff- Just wonderful friend in a very sincerer way always happy to see you. If there are stressed out of over worked they do not let it affect them. They are troopers.
Availability- quite easy to eat during the week but book a head for weekend dinning.
I just love this place; at last a local I can call my own that makes me feel welcome and above all comfortable. The Espy is a sign to me that Portbello is getting the kick of life that it needs. As far as I am concerned the Espy offers me everything I need I never to to drink in town again think of the cab and bus fare fair saved think how eco friendly that is.
Needless to say I will be going back again and again
Review from Qype User (greens…)
Review from Qype User (spank…)
- 5 friends
- Qype User spank…
I love the espy. The food is great. Locally produced, prepared to order (none of this reheated microwaved nonsense), thoughtfully assembled, nice plump portion sizes. They bake a camembert with a sticky onion relish amongst other things. Can there be a finer way to spend a winter's eve? I think not.
When it's less dark, the sea view / sun set is great. And when it is dark, they have Connect 4 and Jenga to entertain big and small children alike.
A wonderfully cosy in winter / airy and bright in summer addition to Portobello's seafront.
Review from Zebbie O.
- 0 friends
It was a lovely day, so we came by and sat outside. The staff were friendly.
Despite the menu, the food was bog-standard and uninspiring, and they made mistakes with our orders. The bill was too dear for what the food was worth, though.
It took over an hour to be served burgers, but I'll chalk that up to the unusually large crowd today.
Review from Qype User (jackst…)
- 0 friends
- Qype User jackst…
Being a local, this pub has the potential to be a great little place BUT every time since new management has taken over, I have felt nothing but a second class citizen! From over pricing the bar bill by £15 on a few occassions, to being refused food because I was only ordering side orders for my 2 children (even although the kitchen was still serving other customers and there was at least 7-8 free dinner tables), I am very disappointed indeed.
Coming from the lovely little place of Portobello, this pub has the potential to be great, but from the bad and negative experiences I have had from this place, I will certainly not be back which is a shame indeed because once the summer trade goes, you have to rely on the locals to keep an establishment going!
I will definitely NOT recommend this place to my friends and family and will never go there again.
Review from Qype User (SteveB…)
- 0 friends
- Qype User SteveB…
Nice spot overlooking the Firth of Forth estuary. Good laid back comfortable furnishings and decor but the staff could do with a few tips on manners and general bonhomie. One or two are downright rude and ignorant with a couldn't care less attitude and a tendency to rush you out at closing time which also tends to be very early! Not so much a pub more a trying to be trendy drinkerie for young middle class wannabes but never will bes! Steve Bott freelance journalist tel 07929 294102
Review from Lindsay S.
- 0 friends
Great to see a decent pub open up in Portobello. It's nicely decorated and there is plenty room round the tables and chairs. The food was nice but the menu is limited and there really wasn't a decent vegetarian option apart from the vegiburger, which if you go regularly you don't want to have every time. The staff were lovely, very friendly and very helpful. You get a great view on a nice day but it does get busy on a sunny day which is great for the Espy. Its certainly the best run this pub has been in years.
Review from Qype User (Laura_…)
- 8 friends
- Qype User Laura_…
We moved to Portobello in June and had heard lots about The Espy so decided to try it the next morning for breakfast.
The food was nice enough but my boyfriend and I felt they were trying a bit too hard with the menu. We ordered from the breakfast selection, I had bacon, sausages, beans and mushrooms (but they were pesto mushrooms!) which were nice enough and I usually love pesto but I didn't feel it worked that well with breakfast. We heard a woman (owner/manager?) criticising the waiter a lot, such as when he was trying to be helpful by getting a family lunch menus so they could see what was on offer despite it being before 12. However we felt it had been ok overall.
A few days later we came back for lunch to see what that was like. It was really quiet when we went in and we were seated at a table in the back right corner next to the window which was nice, but despite there being several tables left (I've noticed this happens elsewhere too) the next people that came in got put at the tables surrounding us, which meant it was quite cramped and hard to get out at the end!
Anyway, we were surprised at how expensive the meals were so decided to both have cheeseburgers. They came in a cold bun which I didn't like as it just tasted strange with the burger but maybe that's me being fussy! There were large chips with it which were nice enough but it was a similar price to places in town such as TGI Fridays, Frankie and Bennys etc so it just seemed a bit too overpriced for the quality. However we'll maybe go back again at some point, going to try other places first.
Review from Qype User (ironta…)
- 0 friends
- Qype User ironta…
Review from Qype User (tim_…)
- 4 friends
- Qype User tim_…
This place is great - real ale, friendly staff and a better burger than you can get in the trendy bars in town. Just don't eat lunch as the portions are huge. We've been there a few times and the manager has introduced himself and had a chat about the business which was a really nice touch. He tells us everything is made on the premises except the guacamole and I believe it. Even the ever changing desserts appear to be true to his word and are well worth saving a space for if you can.
Review from Qype User (pegort…)
- 1 friend
- Qype User pegort…
If there was a minus stars button I would click it. I am a 41 yr woman and have never been so humiliated as a I was from being treated like dirt by the Australian mob which appears to run this establishment. I see their business is thriving for now but notice how complacent and rude the staff have become since my last visit to my 'local'. We went there as a family tonight with our two children to celebrate my husbands graduation today. I had a headache as it had been a long day and my husband volunteered to go and get some ibuprofen and place the order on the way out. He obviously stood in the wrong place and the waiter pushed him out of the way, he waited for the waiter to come back out and told him he did not like the way he was man handled, the waiter replied with ' what's your problem' this from a guy with shaved head with scars on the back. My husband then came over to tell me what happened and whilst doing so the waiter pursued and asked if he would like to take it outside? Never have I come across staff speaking to customers in this manner. My husband demonstrated how the guys had pushed him only for the guy to say 'you have just abused me' I was watching in utter disbelief. I told my husband to take his 1st drink outside and we would leave after I had finished my 1st glass of wine. I sat quietly looking up Facebook when another member of staff came over. He did not introduce himself or sit down to talk to me. He barked at me to finish my drink and get out as he had watched CCTV and would not have his staff abused. I asked if I could also view it and he said he would not take the likes of me to see it and walked off. He then came back and said on second thoughts I will pay for drinks myself just get out and he snatched my glass out of my hand and took the kids apple juices. The entire bar was watching. The lady to my left asked me if I was ok as she was so shocked. I picked up my kids shoes and coats and left. I have never been publicly humiliated in this manner. The Espy are popular in Portobello despite the hideous pricing, but complacency is not the way to run a business. I run a business myself and would NEVER dream of handling even my most difficult of clients in this manner. We have enjoyed the same views and lovely manners and authentic fish and chips from the restaurant next door, my advice would be to give Theee Espy a wide berth!
Review from Qype User (frankl…)
Review from Qype User (maz…)
Review from Qype User (pommer…)
- 2 friends
- Qype User pommer…
oh i do love to be beside the seaside this place is a wee gem. it's perfect for a post-walk relax. the food is lovely, the staff are all exceptionally nice, and it's little cosy couches area is just so cute. i would be there often if it wasn't so far from me, but as it is, it's a nice little treat by the sea.