SLIGHHOUSE – 54 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
Edinburgh’s Bar Kohl is no more. Instead Slighhouse on George IV Bridge has replaced it and it really does feel like you are walking in to a completely different venue. This is the latest venture from Michael McGuigan of The Shilling Group.
Adam Montgomerie, Manager, told DRAM, “It was our aim to give the bar a totally new feel to Bar Kohl and what better way to do that than to refurb and rename? Bar Kohl was so well known for being a vodka bar, we wanted to step away from just vodka and reopen as an all round cocktail bar. There are so many great spirits at the moment as well as vodka that we want to share with our customers.”
I asked Adam why they chose ‘Slighhouse’ and he explained, “James Hutton was our inspiration. He was a Scottish farmer and naturalist who is also known as the founder of modern geology.” James originated the theory of uniformitarianism which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes. Adam continues, “He was born in Edinburgh and later inherited and moved to his family’s farm Slighhouses, Berwickshire… Hence the name Slighhouse!”
Bar Kohl had two doors, Slighhouse has one. The venue is separated into three rooms. It’s an open layout with no doors which means it is easy to walk from room to room. As you walk in the main door the first thing you see is three spacious, square booths overlooking the bar. These black leather booths, upholstered by Irvine William & Sons Ltd, also have desk-type lamps overlooking them which give them a cool and quirky feel. The booths overlook the bar which has a warm vibe created by clever lighting and a neon ‘Slighhouse’ sign. Both the internal and external signage was provided by Specialized Signs.
Throughout Slighhouse there are nods to the James Hutton connection. For example, the exposed edges of the laminated tables and bar are reminiscent of rock strata and also the sharp artwork is of the same nature. Speaking of artwork, there is a wooden silhouette of James’ face near the main door so I can only imagine Adam and the team will get asked about him on numerous occasions! As Bar Kohl, the wall in this area was a deep red whereas the décor throughout is now mainly white which really opens out the bar and makes it feel more spacious. As you leave this first section of the bar there is a black brick wall which really stands out. The black and white scheme really works.
In the second room there is a raised area which has fixed seats and sits up to 20 folk. The fixed seats have been upholstered in a dark brown suedette and there are short, black tables which like in the first bar, also have the rock strata effect along the edges. There are stools which are also short to match the tables, allowing more customers to enjoy this raised area. The stools are backless and have a black metal frame. The refurb was designed by Jaco Justice of Hill Street Design House and he has chosen some very interesting lighting above the raised area. The lights are like colourful lightsabers with angled strips of bright colours such as purple and orange. The bright colours really stand out specially since the the rest of the décor is white with other neutral colours. Says Adam, “This is a great place to sit and enjoy a cocktail if you are waiting on a table in the restaurant or you simply want to chill out with friends. It has a ‘loungey’ feel but I also think it has a real sociable aspect to it as you would be sitting with others who possibly weren’t in your party.”
Moving through to the final room, the restaurant… although I am calling it a restaurant it still has a relaxed vibe and even has an open hatch where you can sit on bar stools and chat to the chef about what dishes he would recommend. There are large windows along one side of this room which gives it a bright and fresh feel. Just below the windows there is leather-upholstered bench seating which runs from one end of the room to the other, a shade of light brown. This colour is following the ‘natural’ theme and the brown really stands out as the brickwork is painted white behind the seating.
There is an open hatch which looks in to the kitchen. At the top of this there are another four desk-type lamps to match the ones in the first bar. They are situated in a row and shine directly on to the kitchen (so the chefs really are working in the spotlight)! There are four stools available if you would like to sit at the hatch, this is more informal and probably best if you were popping in for a spot of lunch.
I asked Adam is there were any major challenges that he and the team faced and he replied, “The whole refurb was a quick decision so we didn’t actually have a final design planned as we started! I think this was a good thing, it meant we could plan as we went along. The team and I met roughly three times a week and had a brainstorming session. Luckily it all worked out in the end!” I have to agree, it did work out in the end. Adam concludes, “The whole refurbishment took six weeks in total and the week before opening we were all working 90 hours but it’s completely worth it, we have achieved our goal and we are already getting rave reviews from our customers which is the most important thing!” It certainly is.