We recently went on a short visit to Edinburgh for work, so for the purposes of research I thought I should eat out in as many places as possible to check them out.
First we started with brunch at Kitchen East at Century General Store. This is run by my friend Polly so I am a bit biased but I have to say it was delicious. It is mainly meat/dairy based and there isn’t a vegan option listed on the short menu, but as everything is made fresh they can make you up a brunch from all the bits that are vegan, although if you’re planning to go for dinner it is probably best to let them know in advance. My brunch had potato scones, home made baked beans, walnut harissa, toast, asparagus and salad with rapeseed oil. The tattie scones and harissa were amazing and the bubba loved the beans. They also had a highchair, changing table and a basket with lots of interesting things for the babba to play with.
After a walk up Calton Hill to work off the brunch we headed to David Bann vegetarian restaurant. The bubba was asleep when we arrived but woke up in time to help me eat some of the main course. We had the aubergine, chickpea and cashew koftas with roasted sweet potato and papaya salad. The best thing about this dish was the delicious spicy aromatic coconut, courgette tomato sauce, which was exactly as described spicy, sweet and subtly flavoured. The babba enjoyed the kofta as she likes little fried things she can pick up and munch on. She also tried a bit of sweet potato, so it was a good baby friendly dish. We followed this with the summer fruit layered pudding, served with vegan chocolate ice cream. I was expecting something like summer pudding but it was actually more like a trifle with a sponge and fruit in jelly. Babba loved the ice cream and ate all the blueberries and raspberries and it was definitely the best pudding of the trip. Although the restaurant environment felt quite formal the staff were very friendly and welcoming to small children. They also had a high chair but not changing table. It is also just round the corner from the Museum of Childhood which although small, is fun to visit.
We then decided to walk all the way to Stockbridge Market but unfortunately it was not very vegan friendly, as there were only a couple of veggie stalls and there were too many meaty stalls with overpowering cooking smells in a small space, so we didn’t stay long. Although, the organic vegetable stall did have some very good value organic raspberry jam. (NB if you are in Edinburgh for a while Leith market has a vegan quarter once a month so it a better bet). However, by chance we came across Novapizza, a vegetarian and vegan pizzeria, on the way there so decided we should pop in on the way back even though I was still full! After checking out the local charity shops which had loads of kids stuff and some upmarket children’s clothes shops we headed for pizza. It has a completely vegan menu with loads of choice including pizza, pasta, gnocchi and more, including gluten free choices. I went off menu and had a pizza with spinach, mushroom and olives. I am not a bit fan of fake cheese but this was the best one I’ve had on a pizza so far and the base was really good. We also had a blackberry and peanut butter cheesecake to follow which was nice and good for those who like a sugar fix. The staff were lovely and they gave us crayons and paper for babba to do some drawing as soon as we arrived, so I would say this would be the best place for kids and the best value.
On our walk home we also by passed Real Foods which is one of the best stocked health food shops I’ve been in to. I think they have several stores in Edinburgh so would be great to visit if you’re self catering or need something for a packed lunch.
The next day I had to try out Hendersons before getting back on the train. We went to their completely vegan outlet but they also have a salad bar and a deli. It was nice to go somewhere where everything was vegan on the menu although this made it much harder to decide what to have! I tried the vegan haggis which was lovely – the babba ate loads too as she loved the mashed potato and the haggis which was really tasty blend of lentils, barley, and nuts I think? I had a chocolate and hazelnut cake for afters with coconut cream. It was a really good texture and not to sweet. We also had a fresh fruit smoothie, although this was quite high risk as the babba was close to spilling it all several times, which is why I normally only ever drink water in restaurants. I also had to pop into the deli to get some salad and shortbread for the journey home. Overall Hendersons was my favourite place, I really loved the relaxed environment with comfy sofa seats and loads of different and interesting options. They also had a clever fold down changing table in the toilets.
Edinburgh is already known as being vegan friendly and I’d say it’s very baby friendly as well. There are loads of nice places to eat and although eating out is not particularly cheap, everything we had was really good. There are also lots of lovely parks to have a rest in (although beware some are private gardens which babba got a bit upset about!) and it’s very walkable with lots of sights to visit in the centre without having to go too far.