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Harmonium, Edinburgh, vegan restaurant review

Climate change activism and saving the planet might be flavour of the moment, but Cat Thomson discovers Harmonium is a bit out of tune.

Published: October 27, 2019

Teenagers, what are they like? Growing up, socialising and generally being infuriating.

That is... if they are not busy quite literally, trying to save the planet like Greta Thunberg.

This pint-sized climate change Joan of Arc (16) has certainly ruffled a few feathers lately. It got me thinking about Generation Z, and what exactly I was doing at their age.

The answer is not much. I was awkward, moody and most of the time avoided talking to anyone.

I was happiest watching life-changing films like Top Gun or Teen Wolf. I played my part in campaigning to end world hunger by watching Live Aid on the telly in 1985.

I was very much looking forward to the important stuff in life, like getting the hell outta dodge, experimenting with terrible makeup and backcombing my hair. Well, it was the Eighties.

So with a nod to rediscovering my youth and joining the climate change gang, I’m off with one of my teens to Leith to eat vegan.

We’re heading to a place which opened in 2017 and is part of the stable of plant-based eateries, two of which are in Glasgow: Mono and Stereo, where we have eaten before.

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• READ MORE: Mono, Edinburgh, restaurant review


Here at Harmonium, the mission statement says ‘we believe in presenting veganism and vegan food in a positive and accessible way to both vegans and omnis alike’.

The interior is casual and relaxed for evening service, but for my old eyes, a tad too dark.

I’ve been left waiting famished in restaurants before, so sourdough bread is my go to, for keeping the wolf from the door.

We opted for the olive oil and balsamic dip, instead of the harissa paste. Four enormous doorstep wedges arrived, almost half a loaf.

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We also sampled a portion of warmed tasty grilled artichokes with a lemon wedge and olive oil, nestling on a bed of rocket leaves.

They were almost perfection, but just a tad over oiled.

I ordered a dairy-free mylk shake, and it arrives in a stylishly designed tetra pack made by the Rebel kitchen company. Fair play, it is a nicely flavoured orange and chocolate beverage made from spring water, coconut milk, date nectar, cacao and orange oil.

I know the packaging can be recycled, but given the extensive cocktail menu here I’m sure they’d be able to whip up something similar in house.

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Harmonium interior, Henderson Street. Photograph: Ian Georgeson

The menu is free from animal products, but non-vegan pooch visitors are welcome. We swooned over Charlie, the adorable Bedlington terrier although confess we were conflicted by his carnivorous ways.

Then we tried very hard not to overhear the date night conversation at the next table, although their plateful of no-fish ‘n’ chips certainly caught the eye.

It featured beer battered nori banana blossom served with rustic chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce and a pickled onion for good measure.

Banana blossom is a fleshy, purple-skinned flower which grows at the end of a banana fruit cluster, and its flaky texture makes it an ideal substitute for fish.

My main course arrived in a gigantic bowl complete with a ladle. I had ordered an aromatic pho, or soup, consisting of dark and mysterious miso broth, flavoured with chilli, five-spice and coriander.

A duo of broccoli spears lay submerged beneath oodles of sliced red cabbage and mountains of brown rice noodles, and edamame beans a go go, with a sprig of basil for good measure.

It was enough to feed the 5,000, so I was kindly offered a tub to transport what I didn’t eat home. No waste here and we were happy with a take away, sorting my lunch out for the week, but perhaps less is more.

The wean had opted for the weighty Harmonium quarter pounder in a bun.

This was no Big Mac, but instead, a breadcrumbed seitan patty, topped with facon or fake bacon, nestling on a bed of lettuce, with beef tomato and some non-dairy mayonnaise for company.

On the side, salt and chilli chips with crumbled peanuts and lashings of bbq sauce.

Despite being stuffed to the gunnels, we both felt it necessary to sample dessert.

My Harmonium sundae was too good to split. Banana was cleanly cleaved lengthways, mixed with chocolate ice cream, chopped nuts and raspberries, and you would never have guessed it was milk-free.

The young one’s raspberry sorbet was palate-cleansing and ice cold, with the inclusion of frozen blueberry bullets which took the brain to Antarctica.

I was delighted to give veganism a go, as Greta our pint sized teen warrior would say, no one is too small to make a difference.

The verdict? While Harmonium is certainly in tune with the vegan generation, for me there were a couple of dishes which were a bit off key.

Harmonium, Edinburgh

(60 Henderson St, Edinburgh, EH6 6DE)
Tel: 01315553160,


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Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.

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