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Hendersons is back, but in Bruntsfield, review - we revisit Edinburgh's veggie institution

This vegetarian restaurant may have closed its original branch, but this is the redux

Published: October 30, 2021
Categories:
Food: 
7.5/10
Ambience: 
9/10

Forget five-a-day, they say you should eat at least 30 different types of plant a week.

That includes vegetables, fruits and grains.

I only know this after hearing the woman sitting next to me at Hendersons talking about it, then I Googled for confirmation.

The internet says it’s true, and apparently it boosts gut health to have such a varied diet.

If anyone is going to help us reach that number, it’s this vegetarian/vegan restaurant. They’re back. Hoorah.

Obviously it’s not just me who’s happy, as their new branch was probably the busiest restaurant in Tollcross/Bruntsfield on a Wednesday lunchtime.

Of course, this is a different iteration of the original 58-year-old Hanover Street institution, which sadly closed in the summer of 2020.

Owner, thirty-something Barry Henderson, is the grandson of Janet Henderson, who opened the vegetarian hangout with her husband, Mac.

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This young blood has rocketed the brand into 2021.

The space, formerly lockdown casualty, The Apartment, looks fantastic, with woven pendant lights and botanical installation of grasses on the ceiling, in a sandy palette that reminds me of the Dune remake.

The menu features nibble, starters, mains and sides, but you can also get inventive-sounding salads for £4.50, or £12 for four, which is what I’d probably try if I was here as a civilian.

Instead, since it’s nearly Halloween, I go for the pumpkin and Blue Murder cheese ravioli (£7.50).

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It’s a little tepid, but the three pasta parcels’ centres of orange pulp are silky and salty and I enjoy the trimmings of crispy sage leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds and sprigs of red amaranth.

The salt and chilli cauliflower wings (£6) are clad in a thin layer of knobbly and russet-coloured five-spice batter, and come with a canape spoon of thin satay sauce.

It’s a lovely dish, especially when it comes to the nibbly runt-like florets, which are almost like those balls of flavour that you’ll occasionally find - bingo - at the bottom of a packet of crisps.

Hendersons is famous for its vegetarian haggis, and we did see someone receiving a portion of this, which was layered up with neeps and tatties in a glass dish, like a savoury trifle.

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However, I really wanted to try the banana blossom (£12), which is served as an alternative to fish, along with “hand-cut triple cooked chips, mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce”.

In its uncooked state, this purple tear-shaped flower looks a bit like an artichoke. It has quite a satisfying texture, not exactly like the fish it's supposed to replicate, but flaky, vaguely fibrous and robust enough to handle frying.

Anyway, this popped my banana blossom cherry and I did enjoy it, though that might have been because the batter was so satisfyingly crispy. There could have been a Scholl insole in there, and I still would’ve happily munched my way through it.

The trimmings were all decent too, and they know how to create a decent chip.

These also came with the rusty-coloured beetroot and black bean burger (£12), with a hearty charred flavour. It was sandwiched into a rather tough white beer bun and topped by apple pickle, chilli jam and a single onion ring, as well as smoked cheddar, though you can also go for vegan cheese.

Another signature Hendersons dish is the chocolate mousse (£5) that was served at their old gaff. 

My other half couldn’t hack the half pint of bionically sweet ganache, which clinged to the spoon and stuck to your incisors, so I stepped in. You’re welcome.

I also ordered the buckwheat, pistachio and bramble s’more cake (£5.50), with white chocolate and bramble sauce. This pale green brick was a bit bready and heavy, but I liked the pink puffy marshmallow icing, which was topped by crumbled pistachio and a fat bramble.

I’m pretty sure that I can check that off, as well as a few more, against my 30 plant foods quota.

I also downed another three, thanks to the Bruntsfield Green (£4.50) celery, apple and spinach smoothie, while my husband probably gets nil points for the Karma Kola Gingerella (£2.90), though maybe the motes of ginger and lemon that were floating in this fizzy pop will count.

The excellent double espresso (£2.90) is also worth a mention, since the coffee comes from Modern Standard, which is just a few doors up.

I think Hendersons fits right into this area. In fact, it seems to suit being a neighbourhood restaurant more than a city centre one. I’m glad they’re back.

My gut certainly wants to celebrate.

7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh

www.hendersonsrestaurant.com

Places to try Nearby

LeftField, 12 Barclay Terrace, Edinburgh (0131 229 1394, www.leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk)

On November 24, from 6.30pm until 8pm, join this restaurant and Element Wines, who will be talking about the people and viticulture behind some of their favourite orange, white and red wines. As well as tastings, there will be matching canapes, all for £35pp. Call or email leftfieldedinburgh@gmail.com to book.

La Barantine, 10 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh (www.labarantine.com)

This is our favourite baker in the vicinity of Hendersons, and we especially like their pain aux cereales, almond croissants and baguettes.

Castello Coffee, 7-8 Barclay Place, Edinburgh (0131 281 4170)

They do a good halloumi Benedict, sourdough toast with balsamic mushrooms, poached egg and Mornay sauce, or courgette fritters with halloumi, avocado and poached egg, at this cafe. As well as brunch, they also serve coffee and cake, all with views of the Meadows.

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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