David Bann's, Edinburgh

Scores out of 5: Veggie friendly : 5/5; Vegan friendly - 5/5 Value for money: 0.5/5, Quality of cooking : 0.5/5; Ambience : 4/5; Service: 4/5 ;Atmosphere: 2/5

This week, I've been up in Edinburgh again on work. So I had a good excuse to try out some more of the Scottish capital's vegetarian restaurants.

We decided to visit David Bann's restaurant which seemed to get really good reviews on websites I had "googled". The menu on the website sounded rather modern and unusual. I was looking forward to the meal. When we walked in, we received a warm and friendly welcome and were quickly seated at a nice table. The tables were spaced well apart; the purply-walls and the trendy, minimalist setting provided an airy yet romantic backdrop.

Looking at the menu, we decided to order an initial bowl of chips while we made up our minds from the long list of fusion-ish starters and mains. The menu looked like a strange journey to Asia and the Mediterranean via Scotland with no real central theme except vegetarianism; I asked our friendly waiter for advice on the main course options. "It's a new menu we introduced only last week or so", he said admitting that he hadn't tried a single dish. I was a tad disappointed. Hadn't these guys seen any of the celebrity chefs on tv. Ground rule number one: make sure your front of house have a good idea what you are serving? Forget about any detailed questions re: provenance, this guy couldn't even tell me which dish was recommended. After a bit of umming and aahing, and with the waiter's watery recommendation (given his experience that some customers gave good reviews to the curry), we decided on the Thai fritters and the Soup of the day (caramelised onion) for starters and the Crepe with braised vegetables, basil & dunlop cheese and a curry for the main.

The chips arrived first, served with an apple & tomato ketchup and sour cream. The chips were average in taste and quite fresh quality-wise. The ketchup though was a total disaster. Really, really vile. Any pleasure one took from the chips was totally negated by this monstrosity of a concoction; a precursor of things to come.

The Thai fritters which came next were a total waste of good tofu. This disastrous blend of coriander seeds, tofu, lemongrass and God-knows-what, tasted like it had been chargrilled with something vile; we left the plate fairly untouched. Fortunately the waitress noticed and offered to take it off our bill, suggesting that it was probably the smoked tofu that we didn't like. It wasn't the tofu that ruined it , I thought to myself; what destroyed that dish was a failure to mimic Thai flavours by simply bunging in anything that sounded vaguely Asian and assuming that it would pass off as nouvelle cuisine.

The onion soup that R had next was so-so; nothing to write home about and with the faint taste of slightly-off leftovers, although R didn't mind too much.

We then moved to the mains. The next assault was on Indian cuisine. The chef's modernist take on my curry meant that it was a total disappointment - gloopy, under-cooked and served without any rice but with a couple of little fritters made from rice flour. The fritters were under-seasoned but edible. The curry wasn't even as edible as my own home-made curry would be at a stage when I've just ground the basic ingredients together.

The final onslaught was on French cuisine and here, the crepe was soggy, there was no hint of the basil which had been promised, the filling tasted overpoweringly of peppery-tomato puree with no sign of the promised cheese and even R, who is normally not fussy at all, gave up after 2 mouthfuls. This time, the waitress didn't notice or even ask for feedback on why the plates were virtually untouched.

When we finally arose from our tables, deprived of nearly forty pounds for one starter and two mains and two soft drinks, I felt relieved. At least I didn't have to face pudding and watch perhaps yet another great culinary tradition  destroyed by the vile machinations of the chef who would no doubt have produced yet another  surreal mish-mash of flavours.

All in all, a total waste of time and money except for the fantastic ambience.

Avoid, until they sort their food out !!

56-58, St Mary's St, Edinburgh


  1. These comments are totally at odds with my very positive experiences of this restaurant.

  2. I tend to agree - while it's nice have an upscale veggie restaurant, their food compositions tend to be off, and their cooking skills hit-and-miss. While I've had a couple of decent dishes, most times what comes on the table is a weak effort. I live 50 meters up the road, and still only go when others are organising - there's too many other options around where the kitchen actually knows how to cook!

    My guess is that they get a lot of good-will free just from the rare combo of upscale/vegetarian/ambition - thus the good reviews. Shame that they can't seem to follow through.

  3. Amazing Restaurant with all good food and services Restaurants in Delhi

  4. Our group of one vegan and two non vegetarians had a fabulous meal here. Vegan sweet potato soup was delicious as was the caramelised onion tartlet. My main of Jerusalem artichoke Wellington and braised vegetables with split barley was just divine. Perfect in every way. Couldn't fault it. Would love to make this dish or components of it for our mixed vegan/vegetarian and fish only and meat eating Xmas guests. The vegan in our party had the veg stir fry with udon noodles and smoked tofu though not a huge tofu fan. Happy with the dish although it was not stunning in my non-vegan opinion, however the tofu was the best we had tasted, not overpoweringly smoked and silky smooth. I would have guessed it was egg based if I had done a blind tasting. We were too full to try more than one desert - the baked apple tart with home made chocolate ice cream. It was superb. The only critical comment I had was the bread roll at the beginning was ordinary and if served, a bread option would be better served with a choice of oils and butter, considering the likelihood of vegan diners. However, thats a small point in an otherwise outstanding culinary experience.


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