There can’t be that many people who have not heard of the iconic children’s novel The Wind In The Willows, but did you know that its author Kenneth Grahame was born in Edinburgh? Admittedly, he only lived there for a few years before moving eventually to Cookham Dean, the inspiration of the iconic book. However, it’s the history of the pretty Georgian building in Edinburgh’s Castle Street that inspired Signature Pubs to invest in Badger & Co, which consists of the main bar, a library-style room, a restaurant, as well as a private dining room and a garden area on the lower ground floor.
The development took nine months in all. Originally an office block, a huge amount of construction work had to be undertaken to create the bar and restaurant. The nook and cranny layout of the four different rooms belie the building’s original usage, but admittedly, Bentleys Shopfitting that undertook the work, concede that putting in things like the dumb-waiter and creating the kitchen on the lower floor, were a challenge due to the age of the building.
Although the team is insistent that Badger & Co isn’t ‘themed’, the nod to its heritage can be seen everywhere. It’s clear designer Adam Tibbatts, of Tibbatts Abel, took inspiration without turning it into a homage.
On arrival there is a jaunty, black and white swing sign hanging outside the former office building, depicting Badger with a top-hat, created by Jasmin Design Ltd.
In the bar area, half a dozen curved-back bar stools covered in a pistachio green leather, with brass studs, line the ceramic, brick patterned bar. The bar itself stretches half the length of the ground floor of the two-floored building and is covered in the same dark wood as the tables. A six-inch gap between the bar top and the brickwork frontage is covered in pale green tiles to complement the bar stools. In the centre of the ceramic bar front, a wooden bar sign is attached with gold writing in the Badger & Co font.
A top the bar, the fonts are a buffed steel with quirky chalkboard signs detailing the different beers that the bar carries while bright yellow ship-style lamps hang from the ceiling and a large portrait of a badger riding a penny-farthing hangs facing the bar, continuing the nod to Grahame.
Parallel to the bar, are two square high top tables flanked by the same pistachio leather covered stools and by the two sash windows at the front of the bar, there’s a circular table for two, with a dark, mahogany coloured wooden top. While by the two sash windows at the front of the bar, there’s a circular table for two, with a dark, mahogany coloured wooden top.
The back room off the bar is reminiscent of a snug library. A long Chesterfield-style sofa which could comfortably sit five people is covered in a burnished copper leather, with two copper topped tables with matching styled chairs on one side of the room. All the upholstering throughout the bar was carried out by PG Interiors, with the furniture supplied by Room Food. This area is the only one to feature wallpaper, which has a pale-green leaf print. The three corners are covered from halfway up the wall in dark mirrors and the lower half of the corner walls are covered in white wooden panelling, which is replicated in the window shutters.
On the window side of the room, another leather sofa features with two more chairs and another table for two. Muted green and blue floor-length curtains hang, complementing the green, woodland theme throughout. The middle wall features a dark wooden fireplace above which, features a unique artwork. The work is a bespoke project created by Napier University Media Department for Signature. Students have recreated famous images of the 1900s for the film and one image even bears a strong resemblance to Mr Grahame himself!
It looks like a portrait, but the image on it changes every half hour or so, featuring interesting characters reading books. As it looks like art, you really can’t tell that it’s digital. The rest of the room has copper-topped tables with four leather chairs around each. An old-fashioned news rail hangs as a feature with representation newspapers. Past the dumb-waiter, you come to a cosy, brown leather covered booth, which can comfortably fit ten people, flanked by two mirrors that reflect light, and to the end of the booth, an archway – which was art of the original building – holds a decorative arrangement of bottles, which gives the whole booth a warm glow. The lighting in each room is also vastly different. The bar features the brightly coloured nautical lamps, the library-style room has single tier chandelier style lights and the booth a very modern square shaped chandelier. The main room, however, features the most dramatic lighting. Three huge three-tier chandeliers hang from the corniced ceiling – another original feature from the building – each using sixty lightbulbs! Throughout the entire venue, there are country-inspired pictures and paintings, stuffed animals and even a faux stag’s head on one wall.
White wall panelling adorns the walls in the main room, with a neon yellow-lit Badger & Co light hanging in the middle above a long Chesterfield-styled banquette. The banquette lines three-quarters of this room to create a dining area that can cater for around thirty people in one sitting. Individual copper topped tables are paired with blue covered bucket chairs opposite. This room also features similar tables to those that are in the library styled room. Opposite the banquette, four Chesterfield-style sofas are paired with two copper topped tables for four. Finally, two glass-tiled dividers split the last quarter of the room, which would allow for another two tables – one for four and one for two – to dine in relative peace.
The piece de resistance lies downstairs. Firstly, a private dining room, which can seat comfortably twelve people for dining serves to offer a corporate opportunity at first glance, however when you look closer it’s got a much better use. On the back wall, there’s is a roll-down screen and opposite four comfortable Lazyman-style seats, complete with cupholders. Yes, this is where people can book the room to watch football, rugby or any sports. Even films! And its use doesn’t end there. The dining table opens up to reveal a pool table, and to the left of the room opposite the window, there is a private bar. Signature admit that the plan is to fully utilise the room when it’s not booked for dining, it can be used for people who want to play pool, or watch a film.
Given its city-centre, land-locked location, it would be imaginable that smoking would have to be catered for outside the front of the building. However, Signature has created an outside haven downstairs at the back of the building. An outer part of the building that wasn’t used – and that would be complicated to convert – gave the opportunity for the construction company to create a covered outdoor seating area, which is lit by candles and fairy lights and decorated by a stunning mural created by local artist Chris Rutterford.
All in all, Badger & Co, is the perfect place to sit down and enjoy its country-themed menu, or just relax with a copy of The Wind In The Willows.