Review – The Lioness of Leith, 21 Duke Street, Leith

Inside the cosy Lioness
Inside the cosy Lioness

Roaring new life into Leith

Just off the foot of Leith Walk on the corner of Duke St and Academy St you will find The Lioness of Leith, which opened its doors in December 2013 and has breathed new life into an old pub (Mintos) which we understand had lain empty for a full 7 years but we’re told that when it was open it was a bit of a dive anyway! But that’s all changed now…

It was a cold dark night when we visited but it was cosy & atmospheric inside the Lioness, thanks partly to the subdued & subtle lighting touches (mostly from candlelight). It’s a surprisingly spacious place with big windows, lots of wood and an olde world charm.

Funky lighting
Funky lighting

But adorning the walls was a eclectic mix of quirky lighting fixtures, taxidermy and bright abstract wall art!

Large quirky wall art
Quirky wall art

Further contrasts between the pub’s prior and current incarnations were provided by a Streetfighter Alpha Zero arcade machine and even a pinball table (ever wanted to eat your dinner on a pinball table? Well now you can!)

Travel Time pinball machine
Pinball machine for a table

At the bar there was a good selection of local beer including “Lioness of Leith” lager, which is a pretty decent 4% session lager brewed specially for the Lioness, and there are a few others from nearby brewers such as Barney’s, and local cider from Thistly Cross too.

Local draught beer on tap!
Local beer on tap!

But instead of the beer we settled down with some cocktails…

Sherbet-lemon & Sunshine on Leith cocktails
Sherbet-lemon £6.50 & Sunshine on Leith £7 cocktails

Sherbet-lemon: Citrus vodka, fresh lemon and lime juice and fizzy sherbet syrup served martini style. Nippy and refreshing!

Sunshine on Leith: Koko Kanu coconut rum with pineapple juice, midori, citrus fruit served over ice with angostura bitters served in a tall glass. Sweet and pleasant!

And so onto the food…


Chorizo and capers
Chorizo and capers £4.80

A big bowl of spicy chopped chorizo – basically a full sausage chopped up with loads of capers! Flavoursome condensed meatyness, smokey and very juicy with the vinegar from the capers cutting through the fat = a good beer snack. Yum yum yum!

Tempura of boquerones
Tempura of boquerones and tartare sauce £3.70

Another great portion size – little salty Spanish anchovies in a light crispy batter makes this a moreish beer snack. The tartare sauce was pleasant but could do with a bit more zing.


Breast of guinea fowl
Breast of guinea fowl, braised shallot casserole and pommes Dauphinoise £12.20

Fine-dining in a bar? Lovely tender guinea fowl, big shallots, soft melt-in-the-mouth creamy Dauphinoise. A lovely combination of ingredients which would look the part in any posh restaurant. Great stuff!

Wiener Schnitzel
Wiener schnitzel with apple and carrot slaw, salad greens £11.50

Served with a shot of wheat beer for that authentic Viennese experience?! A proper tender veal schnitzel with crisp breaded coating and fresh salad leaves, and much tastier than the schnitzel we had when we actually were in Vienna! Wiener schnitzel isn’t something you come across too often in Scotland so it was good to see this.


Cardamom pears
Cardamom pears with candied nuts and coffee bun croutons £6

Lovely soft ripe pear; candied hazelnuts with the perfect amount of sweet sugar syrup. The bun was a bit different and it went well with the pear! A stronger cardamon taste would’ve been appreciated.

Milk chocolate delice
Milk chocolate delice, hazelnut biscuits and dark chocolate crisps £7

Quite fancy looking! A wonderfully dreamy chocolate mousse with crunchy base, which was absolutely lovely!


The Lioness of Leith is our sort of pub – great staff, great beer, great food!

The food on the quirky and inventive menu deserves special praise, it was a little pricey for a pub out-with the city centre but they can justify it – our dishes were excellent and of a high restaurant quality. They also do a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 4pm which we’ve seen photos of and are keen to try. Kids are welcome and for the little ones an Italian-themed children’s menu is available. There’s a decent cocktail and beer selection, and it’s good to see local brews on tap.  Staff were friendly and helpful, though the waitressing was a little slow but it had just opened so staff were still finding their feet so we have no real gripes here. Both male and female toilets were clean & looked after with Baylis and Harding hand-wash. Oh, and the pub is dog friendly too!

We’ve just discovered that their Spring menu has now launched so we shall have to go back again soon!

The Lioness of Leith on Urbanspoon

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About Emma 3258 Articles
Hello! I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers which is a food and travel website. I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers. We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year. Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.     Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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