Scores out of 5: Veggie friendly : 5/5; Value for money: 5/5, Quality of cooking : 5/5; Ambience : 5/5; Service: 4/5 ;Atmosphere: 5/5
Its Tuesday afternoon. After a dire sandwich at London's King's Cross station, I'm on board the 14:00 train to Scotland's capital Edinburgh.
I've been to Edinburgh before and I'm looking forward to my 2 day stay in the capital. Its a regal city; the roads in the City centre are criss crossed at different heights and I like walking around this majestic place.
The taxi driver takes me on a rather round-about route to the hotel. "We're having a new tram system put in", he apologetically murmurs. I drop my bags off and try to find a vegetarian dinner. The receptionist does an internet search and Henderson's pops up on her list. "It's just off Prince's St and George St", (which are both very central), she says and I head out into the cold evening breeze to find my supper.
Along the way, I forget the name of the restaurant, but have the street name marked on my map. So on the street, I ask a bunch of taxi drivers for "Harrington's ", as they rowdily queue at the taxi stand. They good-humouredly banter with me for a bit and then say they think I'm looking for Henderson's, which is just down the street at the next set of lights.
The restaurant is built in the basement of the building with a bistro and art gallery from the same owners next door. I later find out, it is Scotland's first vegetarian restaurant and is now 47 years old.
The restaurant itself has been in the same family since inception and was originally an outlet for excess farm-produce. So definitely one of those small, honest businesses, we feel inclined to patronise and sustain during the credit crunch. There is a small bakery attached, and if you visit at the right time of day, the aromas of freshly baked bread supposedly waft through the streets. Henderson's also has stalls at local farmers' markets in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leith and does catering (if you're lucky enough to live in Edinburgh).
Anyways, back to the restaurant. As I ducked into the restaurant, I found myself confronted by a well-stocked salad bar and an array of desserts. Queueing up, I looked at the day's specials and ordered myself a 2 -course set meal ( main and pudding for about £13) . I'm not usually tempted by risotto, but something told me this one would be special and given that it came with a hearty recommendation from the girl behind the till, that's what I went for.
A few minutes later, I was seated in the quaint and old-fashioned seating area, with some very pleasant live guitar playing in the background. (Apparently there's a different instrumentalist playing every night). Customers ranged from a boisterous 20-strong group of twenty-somethings , to animated looking middle-aged women catching up with old friends. In general a very laid-back and "comfortable" set of people :-). By that I mean, people who aren't posing or showing off, people who appreciate and savour good food but are not looking for showy, up-market , dressed-up food, ordinary everyday people who are out for a good, wholesome meal with friends.
I started off with a small cheese scone and some fresh butter . Baked to perfection and fresh. Not long after, the delicious looking butternut squash and mushroom risotto appeared at my table, on a bed of very fresh rocket with a smidgeon of blue cheese on top. It was very deftly executed and definitely of the melt-in-the-mouth variety. Although it was a very generous portion, I couldn't help stashing away every last spoonful. Yummy yummy yummy is all I can say. So fantastically filling that I didn't have room for dessert that I had already paid for. And the service was discreet and very efficient.
"Not to worry" says the lady at the dessert counter. "Of course we can pack it up, but the chocolate mousse", (served in a see-through glass), "wont look as pretty in a plastic take-away container". As I dawdled back to my hotel room, I have been transported to wholesome veggie heaven ! In a pleasant city, with no jostling and pushing and no rushing about, stuffed to the gills with the best risotto I've eaten in ages and looking forward to a good book and some chocolate mousse and with only one regret - the boyfriend isn't here with me to share this... but I'm sure an extra mouthful of chocolate mousse will do the trick !!! The fussy veggie has been appeased !
Hendersons, 94, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DR phone 0131225 2131
[Restaurant, shop, bistro/bar, wine bar, party catering and craft bakery]