The Melville, Edinburgh

The Melville Bar Malcolm Gray and John Eastwood have transformed a run-down pub in Edinburgh’s west end

A neglected local pub in Edinburgh’s west end has been transformed into a bright and buzzing bar by two entrepreneurs. Malcolm Gray and John Eastwood, who live in the area, were regulars in the Melville in William Street until it fell into disrepair. They have now spent £250,000 on developing it into “the perfect local”, The Melville Bar, adding high-quality food and cocktails to match the smart new interior.

The pair have over 30 years’ experience in hospitality between them and, under their Wood and Gray operation, run other Edinburgh businesses including the Earl of Marchmont pub and The Atholl boutique hotel. They drew on the expertise of Falkirk-based design specialist WorkInDesign which is best known for its work with chef Rick Stein such as Rick Stein’s Fish in Falmouth.

Over the three-month refurbishment, the interior was improved to maximise space for customers and make it more functional behind the bar. For furniture and interior detailing, they turned to Ambience Design to create a lighter, more welcoming look. The colour palette is a mix of cream and muted grey, with mirrors running along the top of the walls reflecting natural light flooding in from opposite the bar. New artwork is mainly by Edinburgh artist Rachel Bell.

Previously dark, the interior no longer feels claustrophobic thanks to the mirrors, large windows and neutral colour scheme. Originally a deep mahogany colour, the bar itself is now made of light, grey wooden panelling topped off with a solid oak top. The LED mood lighting system changes appropriately throughout the day which, like the new sound system, is controlled by an iPhone app.

As it was previously more of a sports bar, Malcolm and John did not want to alienate loyal customers and put four TVs around the bar in each corner, linked to Sky HD. “When refurbishing the Melville we had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve,” Malcolm adds. “Both of us live round the corner so the idea really was to create somewhere we would want to go ourselves.”

They brought in bar manager Supot Yampo who has over 12 years’ experience working in bars in Scotland. He has created a menu of vintage and modern classics from an Old Fashioned made with Jim Beam bourbon to a Woo Woo, Chocolate Martini, Japanese Slipper, Sex on the Beach and White Russian.

Supot has worked with John and Malcolm to develop an extensive list of spirits including 50 single malt whiskies. There is also a good range of beers, including 10 on tap such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Erdinger, Cobra and Singha and ales such as Ruddles and Brains’ Milkwood. More world beers are available in bottles such as Budvar and Leffe.

A food menu has been devised by Mike Mathieson, a protégé of Albert Roux, including traditional Scottish dinners and platters. The signature Melville Burger is made from 100 per cent Aberdeen Angus beef, served with three-times-cooked hand-cut chips, pickle and salad plus optional extras including haggis.

Open daily from 11am to 1am, the bar now appeals to a much wider audience. “We don’t want it to break the bank for people to go out for a nice meal,” Malcolm says. “We want to offer them a fantastic experience made up of good-quality food and drink, a comfortable environment and a warm, friendly ambience.”

19-25 William Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NG
Tel: 0131 225 1358

Who did it
Design: WorkInDesign
Interior design, furniture: Ambience
Contractor: Cornhill Building Services
Wallpaper: Ian Smith Design
Artwork: Rachel Bell
Lighting, sound, security: Seeland System Integration

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