Scotsman Review
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November 14, 2018

Vesta, Edinburgh, Restaurant review

Doing good never tasted so good discovers Cat Thomson, as she dines out at Vesta in Edinburgh.

Can you recall the day an A-list star descended on Edinburgh’s West End to visit an eatery called Home?

A project involving Social Bite and Dean Gassabi of Maison Bleue resulted in cooking with a conscience in 2016.

And Leonardo DiCaprio stopped by. The latest incarnation is Vesta, a joint venture between the charity and this time David Hall, who previously led the Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchens and Tigerlily.

I’m keen to discover whether there is even the faintest waft of Mr DiCaprio’s aftershave remaining, or perhaps the lingering aroma of love’s young dream (Meghan and Harry), who visited Social Bite’s nearby sandwich shop in February.

The interior has been remodelled and exterior changed, as has the food, however they are still on the same social mission, to rid Scotland of homelessness, by paying forward meals.

They close on a Monday afternoon to feed homeless folks, serving them the same tasty grub on sale to the public.

Vesta was named after the Roman goddess of hearth, home and family, which sits nicely with the shelter theme, although back in ancient history entry into the temple was permitted only by priestesses, named the Vestals, who tended the sacred hearth and fire.

I’m relieved we scrub up well enough to gain entry into the inner sanctum, luckily for us they aren’t too picky, and Sundays have a distinctly relaxed vibe; there’s bubbles and brunch with all-day breakfasts and avocado on toast for the young hep cats.

I start with a strawberry, banana, orange and pineapple smoothie (£4.50), while the other half quaffs an oak bourbon barrel aged Innis and Gunn original (£4.50).

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We watch the world go by while perusing the menu, being pleasantly surprised by plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, but a distinct lack of side dishes for the slightly more famished customer.

The fella can’t resist the Vesta burger(£10.95), made in house with the leanest of meat and seasoned to perfection, before being flame grilled and pressed into a charred brioche bun.

It arrives slathered with chorizo jam, on a bed of lettuce and a sliced of beef tomato with moreish melted Isle of Mull cheese on top, crowned by a pickled gherkin and accompanied by a tasty order of fries.

Savouring every crispy caramelised meaty mouthful, he says forlornly: “I’ll be sad when I’ve finished eating it.”

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I’ve gone for a platter of spiced chickpea and cauliflower salad (£9.95) and whilst the bulgur wheat is moist, with zingy depth charges of tart pomegranate seeds, rocket, spring onions and other micro herbs, I was left wanting more of the beetroot concoction which was splattered, Jackson Pollock-style, around the edges of the bowl.

Overall I would have preferred more oomph from this dish.

As gluttony is my middle name, I also ordered a bowl of garlic chips (£3.50), a choice I do not regret, and the fella helped me finish them.

For the purposes of research I ordered a Vesta fizz which arrived in an elegant flute; bubbles charged with devilish Edinburgh raspberry gin, and a hint of lemon (£9).

I persuaded the fella we should try a dessert, although the cut-down Sunday menu stated there were only pancakes available for those of us with a sweet tooth.

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However, the kitchen came up trumps with a divine raspberry ripple cheesecake(£5.50) and an out-of-this-world enormous plateful of toffee sponge pudding (£6.50).

The fine dense cake was topped with thick layer of peanut butter icing, topped by a popcorn garnish, and swirled with caramel sauce and cinder toffee nuggets.

For those culinary star-spotters out there this place is also hosting a series of one-off night gigs, with guest top chefs from Edinburgh restaurants cooking up a storm.

Sadly we have missed the one featuring Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart, but you can feast on dishes prepared by Stuart Ralston from Aizle on 27 November, Brian Grigor from Number One on 30 January, Stuart Muir from Dine on 19 February and last but not least Ondine’s Roy Brett on 12 March.

Each night costs £50 per person for a four-course tasting meal including an amuse bouche and a glass of Moet & Chandon on arrival, with all profits raising cash for Social Bite, so why not do your bit for charity thanks to these very appetising offers?

Vesta Edinburgh

7-8 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh EH2 4PA
(0131-220 0773,




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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