If you’ve been listening to the radio or reading local blogs/press lately you’ve probably heard a lot of chat about the newly reopened Marcos. Recently relaunched, this family business is something of an Edinburgh institution, but with the new pool hall and pizza bar they are hoping to bring in a new crowd to Grove Street with what must surely be one of the best pool halls in the country.
Pool halls tend not to be the sort of place we go to – they’re often unloved, a bit grimy and generally not very welcoming. Marcos though is pretty much as far away from this as you can possibly get; it’s the sleekest pool hall I’ve ever been to, but with enough history and stories in its walls to pay homage to its origins. Something that our pool skills sadly did not replicate.
Find out more at Marcos.uk.com
79 Grove Street
Marcos is now a pool hall and pizza bar; a two-level den, tucked away between the EICC and Haymarket. Its bar – the site of the original Marcos – follows in the trend seen recently; all exposed brickwork and beams, with polished wooden floors. But its nods to the past makes it more than ‘just another bar’. The highlight of these being the two tables made from old pool tables, glass-topped to expose all the old pool balls on the interior (one table even has balls signed by Paul, the owner, his wife and Caroline, Marcos manager who was there on the final day of the ‘Old Marcos’, now back to run the new place – a real mark of the family business feel). Even if you have no desired to play pool I suggest you come here – their pizzas are good, there’s are a few beers above the usuals (we opted for a couple of 3 Hops), and there’s enough TVs that you could watch sport – or, as they say on their website, Game of Thrones (when it returns next year).
The level down is where the real action is. What they’ve done with this space is amazing (I don’t think I could have made a concrete basement this inviting); the custom designed lighting was a good choice, allowing the tables to be well lit – and not lit when not in use – and the space to feel big, open and very welcoming, whilst not lowering the roof to hide the air conditioning system means that you barely notice that you’re underground.
Although the look and feel is distinctly contemporary, what really struck us – apart from our complete lack of pool skills, except an unwelcome talent for potting the white – was that there is a massive back story to this place, and it’s sitting there in plain sight for anyone who wants to find out. Many of the tables hail from the ‘Old’ Marcos (now freshly upholstered and re-cushioned, but many old stickers left in place) and the clown that you can measure yourself against to make sure you are tall enough to play. It’s going to appeal to those who knew the old Marcos as well as a whole new generation of devotees.
Should you visit? Yes, most definitely. Whether you want to try your hand at the pool or simply want to watch a match with some beer and pizza, Marcos will serve you well. If it has one fault it’s that there’s nothing else around it, but that’s hardly a reason not to go and who knows what the area is going to see in the future. Unlike many places across the city it also felt good value for money. Although our bill was taken care of, a quick glance at the pricing will tell you that an hour’s pool is £5 Sun-Wed, and £7 Thurs-Sat, a pint of 3 Hop is £3.80 and pizza starts from £5.50, other deals and specials are also around, so worth checking out.
We’ll being going back pretty soon – if nothing else, our pool skills clearly need sharpening up.Photo credit: Verity Productions