Edinburgh Best Bar: Mercat, Norhet, Mash Tun

Mercat staff Derek Dinse, Helen MacNaughton and Jade Brown. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Mercat staff Derek Dinse, Helen MacNaughton and Jade Brown. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THE voting is well and truly under way in the hunt for the Best Bar 2014 in Edinburgh and Lothians.

There are just days to go until glasses are raised to the ultimate winner. And which one of our top ten emerges triumphant is up to you.

Perhaps your favourite is renowned for its real ales and entertainment, maybe it’s the fantastic atmosphere and friendly staff, perhaps it’s just the ideal place to relax and catch up with friends.

All those which have made the top ten have been nominated for their own reasons, with one thing in common – their regulars think they are the best in the business. Whether you submitted a nomination or not, now it’s time to help your favourite bar clinch the coveted crown.

Today we look at another three of the contenders vying for the top spot.

MERCAT BAR & GRILL (001)

Where some of our top ten bars have been nominated for their unwavering tradition, The Mercat Grill in Musselburgh has been gaining a major following for embracing the new.

Based off Whitecraig Road, the family-run pub was given a recent facelift under the tutelage of manager Derek Dinse – and now, he’s placing heavy focus on producing exquisite food at affordable prices.

“I think we’ve had quite a rejuvenation,” he said.

“Everything has been freshened up quite a bit, and we’ve got a huge response from our excellent food menu.”

A member of the Scotch Beef Club, The Mercat’s chefs source the entire menu locally – including seasonal vegetables.

“We have a real passion for what we do. A lot has changed here, but it seems like our customers are completely on board with all those changes.”

NORHET BAR (O03)

The Norhet Bar has been a mainstay amongst Davidson’s Mains residents for decades – and it’s always been a family affair.

Emma Squair took on the traditional pub after the passing of her father last year. But she’s since kept its community spirit alive and well, and has even added a bit of her own flair.

Above all else, Ms Squair said The Norhet is popular for its ability to get customers involved.

“We’ve got regulars that go back generations,” she said.

“We had the grandads, the dads and now the sons.

“And one of the reasons people keep coming back is because we’re so involved in the local area.”

From a league-topping darts team, to fishing and regular pensioner parties, Ms Squair says the Norhet has got “something for everyone”.

“You get a real sense of community here,” she said.

MASH TUN (004)

Since opening its doors two years ago, Mash Tun has become a regular pre-game haunt for Hibs fans from all walks of life.

The Easter Road joint is just a stone’s throw from the club stadium and offers a number of match-day deals that keep fans flying in long after the final whistle has blown.

Yet Mash Tun also borders on the trendy, with a vast selection of quirky beers on offer. It’s also got a modern decor that’s quite a departure from the typical football pub.

Manager Lynda McNeil said the bar’s diverse offerings come from a creative staff and a pool of very different customers.

Yet they all have one thing in common: they’re all local.

She said: “To us, it’s important that we stay a local pub. We get plenty of regulars and tourists alike, but the people and staff are all local, and so is the produce. No matter what, we always keep the banter flowing.”