Within the gothic splendor of an 18th-century Pentecostal church building, located on George IV Bridge in the center of Edinburgh, lurks one of the town’s most monstrous hangouts - Frankenstein. This wonderfully irreverent venue is a bar, a restaurant and a nightclub all rolled into one deliciously spine-tingling serving of baroque playfulness.
Frankenstein's interior — Photo courtesy of Frankenstein
The façade of this Grade B-listed building has been beautifully preserved. Cream coursed ashlar is punctuated by four stained glass windows framed with intricate fleur-de-lis stonework and a pointed arch stone door frame housing a massive oak door. The only hint of the new purpose of the building is a gilded sign declaring “The World Famous Frankenstein 1818."
The space is divided into three floors. The ground floor features the main bar, a large wooden dance floor and a series of booths formed by large gothic church pews upholstered with comfortable red leather padding. An ironwork banister accompanies the staircase as it snakes its way towards the upper floors, which form a two-tiered balcony lined with more booths and seating and a smaller bar.
Inside the edifice, humorous references to Mary Shelley’s masterpiece (and the classic monster movies it inspired) abound. Eerie machinery is suspended from the ceiling and attached to the wall, and the gloom is dispelled by electric static charges and vats of unnaturally colored bubbling liquids, while black and white films play on silver screens dotted around the building.
Every now and then, there is a wonderfully cheesy sound and light show culminating in the life-size dummy of Frankenstein’s monster being lowered from the ceiling and reanimated.
The cocktail menu continues the theme. Alongside classic cocktails such as Long Island Iced Tea and Black Russian, you will find Dr. Frankenstein (a heady concoction of Midori, peach schnapps, Blue Curacao, orange juice, pineapple juice and wild berry vodka) and The Bride (a refreshing blend of Midori melon, Amaretto, cranberry juice and orange juice). There is also the wonderful Bloody Mary Shelly.
When you have worked up an appetite, there are some tasty snacks and starters to get you going. The nachos, calamari and baked aubergine are tempting, but the real star is the Monster Platter. It's a delectable combination of chicken wings, haddock goujons vegetable samosas, garlic bread and onion rings, with a good selection of fresh and tasty dips. It's also perfect for sharing.
Main courses take the form of classic pub grub, but while they may be uninspired, they are well presented and reasonably priced. Traditional fish and chips and haggis sit happily in the company of Cajun-spiced fajitas and succulent pork belly. They also serve up rather good burgers and hot dogs and a reasonable selection of lighter pasta dishes and salads.
The real fun begins as the sun falls and the DJ ascends to his booth and revelers take to the floor. Unlike almost every other venue in the vicinity, there is no entrance fee and the party keeps going until 2 a.m. on the weekend. So it shouldn’t surprise you to find that Frankenstein’s is generally very busy. Popular with students and stag and hen parties, the crowd can be rather rowdy – but good-natured.
Add to all of this the karaoke competition on every Sunday night and the Free Your Soul night held on the last Saturday of every month, and you can see why Frankenstein makes for monstrously good fun!