I’ll admit, I never once stepped foot inside this pub when it was Mathers – but after being assured that the ‘old man’ pub vibes were long gone, I went to explore this new venture on one of my favourite Edinburgh streets.
At first glance, you might not realise the woman on the wall of The Empress is covered in tattoos – you might mistake her neatly patterned collarbone and arms for a vintage patterned dress. This lady is actually Maud Wagner, the first known female tattoo artist in the United States, and she is the focal point of the new Empress of Broughton Street bar.
Like most Broughton Street bars, this one was buzzing. There were a few tables left at the back; and a charming mingling of young, hipster newbies with solo Mathers regulars. Somehow, The Empress seems to make this combination work, and I like it. We were even trusted with one regular’s wallet as he left his table for the bathrooms. It’s a rejuvenation success story – one that is rarely heard of in gentrifying Edinburgh.
Even though we had already eaten some snacks, we couldn’t resist the goats cheese flatbread on the menu. It was the perfect sharing food, washed down with a good Spanish wine and fresh water served in a tin jug.
When I go back, I’ll be trying out their cocktails – especially the Victorian Mojito and the Indian Summer! The open tables and sharing food make it a good place to catch up with friends.