Last week my boyfriend came to visit me in Edinburgh and to celebrate the occasion we decided we should go out for lunch. With him being a vegetarian, we often find ourselves testing more unique places to eat. Tempted by a 10 per cent student discount and the convenience of the location, we opted to go to Henderson’s.
Henderson’s was first opened as a shop in 1962 by a husband and wife team who ran a farm and needed an outlet for their produce. Their food proved so popular that soon after the couple opened up a restaurant in the basement of their house.
52 years later, Henderson’s now consists of a deli, a bistro, and a gallery, all situated throughout the city of Edinburgh. The Henderson’s Restaurant is located on 94 Hanover street, (just a five minute walk from Princes Street) and there is also a newly opened Henderson’s Deli & Cafe on Holyrood Road (close to the Scottish Parliament Buildings). We chose to eat there.
We arrived at around midday, avoiding a queue that went right out the door by mere minutes. We took this as a good sign and set our expectations high, hoping that the food would be good enough that we would want to return. We were not disappointed.
Henderson’s restaurant offers entirely vegetarian options such as quiche, lasagne, wraps, soup and even spanakopita – all made in their kitchens onsite. Given the Edinburgh weather in September, I opted for the soup of the week: carrot, squash and apple, whilst my boyfriend chose the lentil wrap.
The soup (priced at £3.30 without student discount) had a deliciously autumnal taste to it, just the right amount of warmth from black pepper sprinkled on top, and a slight sweetness from the apple. It was served with warm bread: the perfect accompaniment. Perhaps the only thing that could have been improved was that the soup came in a cardboard bowl – not quite what I was expecting when we had stated that we were eating in.
Equally appetising, the wrap was loaded with flavours, with lentils, beansprouts, and an abundance of spices (making us thankful for the jugs of tap water on hand whenever we needed them). What’s more, it was served warm, making the wrap just a little crunchy and giving it a distinctive texture which balanced out the thickness of the lentils.
Another inviting option was the salad deal on offer: two portions alongside your food. This put the price of the wrap up to £4.50 but with options such as grated carrot and cheddar cheese, fresh beetroot and watercress, or wild rice with tamari sauce and sweet peppers there was no problem in parting with a few more pennies for such delectable and healthy goodness.
Unfortunately one downside was that the menu on the website was somewhat misleading, as the items listed online weren’t all available in the shop on the day of our visit. This may have been because we visited the new Holyrood Road branch rather than the main venue, but nevertheless, whilst the food was enjoyable, it was not what we were expecting to eat.
Nonetheless we indulged in our food, perched in the seating area a few steps down from the counter, meaning we weren’t disturbed at all by the constant custom. Having opened in early September, we expected nothing less than the modern and tasteful décor, with window seating (perfect for people watching) and reclaimed doors on the walls, emphasising Henderson’s message of being an environmentally friendly establishment.
Ordering was fairly prompt, which was impressive considering how hectic the place was. However at lunchtime, even when choosing to eat in, orders are taken and paid for at the counter, making it feel more like a deli than a place to go for a sit-down meal. That being said, come eight pm Henderson’s transforms into a restaurant, offering table service and a different menu. It is certainly an experience I’d love to sample.
Overall, if you’re inclined to try dining out somewhere a little different from the usual, and are open-minded to experimenting with vegetarian/vegan cuisine then I would certainly recommend Henderson’s as somewhere to try out.
Image: <Facebook: Henderson’s of Edinburgh>