Restaurant Review: Hendersons

The much-awaited iconic family-run vegetarian restaurant Hendersons reopens with a new address In Edinburgh and an exciting new menu alongside a few old favourites too….

The word iconic is bandied around far too often nowadays, but Hendersons Edinburgh restaurant is undoubtedly an iconic institution. When the original restaurant, which opened its doors in the New Town in 1962, closed last year, there was an outcry from foodies, some of whom had been enjoying Hendersons fine vegetarian fayre for over half a century.

So, the opening of a new Hendersons vegetarian restaurant on Barclay Place in Bruntsfield in the city’s South Side has been met with much excitement. And this new incarnation is very much a family affair. Owner Barrie Henderson, the grandson of Henderson’s formidable founder Janet Henderson, showed us to our table in the window of the building that used to house The Apartment.

Here, we were delighted to be handed paper menus (I’m so over scanning QR codes) as we chatted to the ladies at the table next to us. One of whom had worked in the original Hendersons in the 1960s. She explained that Janet had the idea for the restaurant as a way to make money from the glut of produce growing on her East Lothian farm.

The décor is muted and autumnal, think an upmarket harvest festival, with an abundance of dried foliage and natural fittings, and includes some of the wooden tables from the original restaurant.

We kicked off proceedings with the fabulous pumpkin and blue murder cheese ravioli with browned butter, crispy age and toasted pumpkin seeds (£7.50). This was a beautifully balanced dish full of earthy flavours and Mr B declared that he could have eaten it many times over. The salt and chilli cauliflower wings with satay drizzle/dip and chilli roasted peanuts (£6) did little to discourage my cauliflower obsession. The dish was perfectly seasoned and bursting with flavour and a pleasant chilli kick.

While Mr B was decisive in his choice of the beetroot and black bean burger in a homemade beer bun (£12), I wrangled over my decision. Hendersons’ haggis is the stuff of legend and I’ve enjoyed it many times. On this premise I plumped for lasagne made with homemade pasta, lentil and smoked aubergine ragu (£13). I’m so glad I did because the rich aubergine filling was packed with flavour and topped with a generous portion of creamy sauce and lots and lots of cheese.

This was accompanied by a large glass of Extreme Vineyards Bonfire Hill, South African white wine (£28 bottle / £6.75 or £9.50 a glass), which cut beautifully through the richness of the lasagne. There’s a great selection of salads to choose from (£4.50 each), with too many interesting ingredients to list here, but my aforementioned obsession with cauliflower saw us enjoy it roasted this time, with pickled shallots, charred okra and a coriander and mustard vinaigrette.

Puds came in the shape of a decadent vegan warm chocolate nut brownie with hazelnut ice cream and espresso syrup (£5.50) and a cider-poached pear with whipped coconut cream, candied ginger, toasted oats and raw cacao (£4.90). I loved the juxtaposition of the very British pear, cider and oats with the exotic coconut and cacao.

As you’ve probably worked out, I’m delighted that Hendersons is back in Edinburgh. I love the ‘eat better, live better’ ethos of the restaurant, that Barrie and his partner Clara have already cultivated a veg garden at the restaurant, that they’re honouring a family legacy by combining old classic dishes with new culinary innovations and that both head chef Paul Kayne and senior chef Nives Arosio worked in Hendersons’ former kitchen. The brand is firmly rooted in the capital and I hope it continues to grow, flourish and feed future generations of diners.

Hendersons, 7-13 Barclay Place, Edinburgh EH10 4HW

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