Gardeners Arms, Kilpair Street, Haddington
Ale
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GARDENERS ARMS, KILPAIR STREET
Now then, where does that apostrophe go? Was it one gardener, or lots of 'em, that is the question. Or maybe it was some Masonic thing, judging by the strange symbols on the floor.  It was in fact once owned by The Fraternity of Free Gardeners of East Lothian, an ancient organisation that looked after gardens and its members' welfare. Unfortunately there's no real ale in here, but it is such a lovely old pub. It is a small no-frills working man's bar that is probably little changed since first established in 1887, and the old wood of the counter and gantry would tell many a tale if old dead trees could talk, as I'm sure they can, when the mood takes them.
THE VICTORIA INN, 9 COURT STREET
The Victoria Inn has come on leaps and bounds since I last paid Haddington a visit. I dare say it was probably always good, and maybe I just didn't notice quite how good it was. Now I know for sure. Gooood. The inside of this old hotel is bright and modern and very comfortable. They have real ale, which has to be a bonus. During my visits to Haddington I am always delighted to see a very large maltings still in operation. You'd think with so much malt on their doorstep the town would be able to brew a decent pint of ale, but alas and alack there are no breweries to be found, which is a great shame.
THE TYNESIDE TAVERN, 10 POLDRATE
With its location at the edge of Haddington, beside the old Poldrate Mill and the River Tyne, this could be a very nice pub. But I was disappointed. The lounge is seriously bland and utterly uninspiring, and while the bar is more interestingly attired and warmer, it just didn't do anything for me. Even the pint of Deuchars I sampled tasted tired and in need of a right good shake. If you like televisions, then you may be at home here. They have one the size of a small ocean liner in a corner of the bar, but it hasn't been set up right and everyone appearing on it has a long face. Which is what I had when I left.
THE WATERLOO BISTRO, POLDRATE
I'm not entirely sure why, but I find places with names that end on vowels, like an 'o' or an 'a', always set me on edge. Perhaps it's my age. The Waterloo Bistro is housed in an old mansion sort of building located on the other side of Poldrate Mill from The Tyneside Tavern, right beside the River Tyne. It's a modern classy sort of place. So classy that they wouldn't let me in! I wandered into their bar to see what was what. Some folk turned to look, someone raised their eyebrows at the barman, and before I could mutter, 'Ah but, ah but', I was being shown the door. Private party, apparently. They have real ale, and if they let you in I'm sure you'll find it to be a most agreeable place. [Open just weekends September to February each year, and seven days a week between March and October.]
THE WATERSIDE
Housed in a lovely old whitewashed row of cottages right beside Nungate Bridge and the River Tyne. This is such a picturesque location, as you may see from the image on the main Haddington page. Just being here makes one want to sigh aloud and scratch dogs' ears. It was closed in the afternoon when I was there, but I had a good peek in a window and they do have real ale on tap. There are benches at the front of The Waterside, overlooking the river, and I would highly recommend that you check this glorious old place out.
RATING
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The Victoria Inn, 9 Court Street, Haddington - interior of bar in 2012
The Tyneside Tavern, 10 Poldrate, Haddington - interior in 2012
The Waterloo Bistro, Poldrate, Haddington - exterior in 2012
The Waterside, Haddington