Fresh from a huge scale revamp which promised to provide comprehensive sports coverage against the backdrop of a slick and vibrant interior, I headed to Rileys Sports Bar on Haymarket full of anticipation.
The venue's enormous floor-to-ceiling window design help it to stand out from the very outset. Once inside I was greeted by a vibrant main room which was decked out with a plethora of plush seats to kick back and enjoy the match in. They also have plenty of tables at which to settle pre-match nerves with a bite to eat and a couple of pints should you so choose.
A quick tour of the ground floor revealed two bars packed to the rafters with pretty much every drink you could think up, as well as a dedicated ping-pong area for those who fancy themselves as a bit of a table tennis wizard. Upstairs I found the swish VIP area adjacent to a room packed with seven elegant pool tables - so obviously I wasted no time in having a quick game and embarrassing myself with my truly woeful skills. There's also a stand-out F1 car model dangling from the ceiling and big screen TVs broadcasting sport at pretty much every turn, so you'll catch the action from literally every angle.
The Atmosphere and Clientele
It would perhaps be stating the obvious a little to suggest that the bulk of Riley's clientele are sports fans. In the space of two minutes, one of the big screens brought me up to speed with the football scores, golf action and the latest sensational capitulation of the England cricket team. The atmosphere itself was truly buzzing; it was very loud though, so it's not ideal if you're looking for somewhere to relax with a quiet drink and catch up with a friend. Riley's is however, the place to go for fun, frolics and sport, lots of sport.
The Food and Drinks
I'll start with the burgers. The burgers are, for lack of a better word, magisterial. Succulent, juicy and accompanied by a mouth-watering tomato relish, I was already thinking of the next bite before I'd finished the current one. But such was the strength of the menu available that I was gazing after other people's dishes thinking '"oh I quite fancy a bit of that'" at pretty much every plate the waiters whisked past me. There's loads of drinks, too, and I steadily made my way through the fine list of craft ales without a second invitation. Most importantly, everything is served with a smile from the welcoming bar staff.
After the huge billing Riley's received I was expecting a big performance from the Haymarket hangout, and they most certainly did not let me down. It's a sporting haven, but there's so much more to it. The decibel level does get cranked up and I can imagine it to be incredibly busy on a big match day, but the venue's great food, delicious drinks and energetic ambience mean the positives far outweighs the negatives.