|Three places for the vegan in Edinburgh
||[Aug. 26th, 2010|03:13 pm]
So other than catching up with friends, laughing at sock puppets, singing along to smutty songs and watching some creepy theatre in a Masonic Lodge I managed to check out a couple of the fine eateries of Edinburgh recently...
The Baked Potato Shop (56 Cockburn Street, just off the Royal Mail)
Baked spuds are a UK staple and on more than one occasion I've been thankful for the "baked potato and beans" that was the sole vegan option on a menu. I recall this place as being very good from my last trip to Edinburgh in 2004 and in the past six years, not alot has changed. It's a tiny shop just off the Royal Mile often with a queue out the door, selling baked potatoes, salads, drinks, cakes and vegan haggis samosas (how's that one for fusion cuisine!)
We got there for early dinner on our first day in town and the resounding veg*an consensus was that we needed to go back there (Mx, the omnivore, thought it was good, but generally didn't like baked potatoes anyway). The potatoes are fluffy inside and the skin is delicious- clearly well baked rather than par-boiled or microwaved first- and there is an extensive range of around 30 vegan and vegetarian toppings. Chickpeas, haggis, different types of beans, hommus, pineapple, chili. Suffice to say choosing was difficult but I went for Mexician bean mix and vegan coleslaw on the two occasions we made it there for potatoes. The Mexican bean mix was very spicy but the coleslaw was great, and the servings were huge- I struggled to finish a small one. We did try to get potatoes early another morning, but the spuds weren't ready yet so I had to make do with a slice of carrot cake. Deliciously moist, walnut free, not too sweet and with pumpkin seeds I can't fault it.
The food is great, the options are excellent, staff are efficient and friendly and they give discounts to supporters of various animal rights and veg*an groups. Just don't expect to sit inside, it's rather small and on this visit the only small table was blocked off. Oh yeah, and they are pretty cheap too- less than £5 for a spud and toppings.
David Bann (56-58 St. Mary Street)
David Bann is an award winning vegetarian restaurant. How award winning? Well they won restaurant of the year from The Vegetarian Society in 2009 and was the BBC Olive magazine's pick for top UK vegetarian restaurant earlier this year. So not bad. We popped by to make a booking for Saturday night and were told they didn't make bookings during August, but it starts getting really busy by 7. We got there at about 6:20 and there was already a line of people. The line did move fast though- it was only 15-20 minutes before we were seated.
I think possibly we'd skipped lunch or something so we got hommus and olives to tide us over for the main. The olives were huge, the hommus was delicious and the various breads were fresh and tasty. Oh and some wine. Of the six mains, one was vegan and another two could be made vegan. Mx and I selected the Organic Udon noodles with ginger red pepper sauce and home smoked tofu. Both of us enjoyed it- the flavours of the sauce worked really well- not too spicy or too plain and just enough ginger without being overwhelming. The tofu was very good as well. nevryn and Ax got the Chilli with sweet potato and chocolate sauce (one vegan, one vegetarian) which both of them seemed to enjoy. nevryn adds it could have used a little more sweet potato, and some more chilli but it was nice. Also presentation was excellent and service was pretty good (though I had to remind them to bring us the wine).
After spying delicious looking desserts being brought to other tables I was a little disappointed that we needed to head off to the next show*. David Bann has a great atmosphere and setting, good food and is one of the best UK veg places. I went here back in 2004 and hadn't realised it was a nicer place. The staff then treated me just as well in my hiking boots and grubby jeans as they did just now when I was in a skirt and stockings, which I think is nice too.
Black Bo's (57-61 Blackfriars Street)
We walked past this place about a dozen times before realising that it was a vegetarian eatery and bar. nevryn, a omnivore friend of his (different to the other one we were traveling with) and I decided to head there for dinner one evening on the advice of Happycow. The menu is impressively creative with things like Stuffed Banana Soufflé with chocolate sauce and Pistachio and Spinach Roulade with cranberries, cassis and cinnamon.
To start we ordered mushroom garlic bread, which was really just mushroom bruchetta, it was fine, nothing exciting. The mains were all good. I had the asparagus and tofu balls with pineapple chutney which were a little dry- some extra chutney or salsa would have helped with this. But it was still pretty tasty. The sauce on nevryn 's spinach and puff pastry roulade was overwhelmingly sweet- more suited to a dessert than a main. The banana soufflé was also apparently very nice but couldn't be veganised. All of us ordered the blueberry tart for dessert. The filling for it was delicious, but the base was too dry and overly sweet. It was also very plainly presented, a drizzle of blueberry sauce could have added to presentation and also to the overall dryness.
This is definately a vegetarian rather than vegan place, but they do make a bit of an effort. When we went there were only three vegan options for mains and only two for dessert. One sorbet flavour (they had four non-vegan ones plus loads of dairy ice-cream) and the tart. They didn't have enough copies of menus stating what was and wasn't vegan- we were given only one copy which got taken away for another table whilst we were still deciding! Also, there was no vegan wine on the extensive wine list. When I asked about it, they said it was too hard to get vegan wine. Which I found a bit difficult to believe given that David Bann around the corner had a pretty good selection and both Tesco and Sainsbury's sell quite a bit of it many of which are excellent.
* Though it was to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre who were hilarious and we got to be in the front row.