A couple of months ago, I wrote about L’Artichaut, a great little French vegetarian restaurant in Stockbridge. At the start, I listed several good vegetarian restaurant and it struck me that a quickie-guide, a longer article that gives a bit more detail, would be useful. Here is a review of three of them: Ann Purna, Black Bo’s and Henderson’s
Update 2014: Anna Purna is now closed
Vegetarian Indian cooking is deeply delicious. My most recent visit to Ann Purna was during the festival, when they were very busy but kindly found a last-minute table for four. The restaurant is fairly small, cozy and modern in feel. The service is friendly and efficient. They have a wide range of interesting and lovely dishes, and an amazing pickle tray. They offer a banquet for one, a thali, that is a good option for anyone who can’t quite decide what they want or who are new to Indian food.
I have a weakness for a good daahl and Ann Purna offers several very good ones. Interestingly, there’s no naan on the menu but the stuffed paratha-like bread that I had was deeply delicious and would be a good dinner all on its own (maybe a bhatura? I was too busy eating to take notes. It’s a failing).
Reasonably priced both on dishes and wine (the thali is less that £15.00), Ann Purna is a great place to go for a mid-week indulgence.
44-45 St Patrick’s Square
Edinburgh, EH8 9ET
Tel: +44 (0)131 662 1807
Black Bo’s Restaurant
Update 2012: Black Bo’s has closed.
Black Bo’s Restaurant and Bar sit quietly tucked away off the high-street, close to the Cowgate. The Bar has always been a favourite of mine, with its scuffed vinyl floor, cramped spaces and decent whisky list. I first discovered the restaurant some 15 years ago and found it refreshing but slightly odd. Every dish on the menu came with fruit: fruit coulis to enhance cheese-based dishes or a bunch of grapes to decorate a crepe.
When I went back for the first time in a long time last year, the decor had changed and the room was cozy and intimate (it is not a large space) but the menu still had a lot of fruit on it. The new menu offers more Mexican and Asian inspired dishes, hearty and tasty, and there will be a little fruit on every plate. The menu can be quite adventurous: I haven’t tried the stuffed banana main course, and I don’t think I will, but it’s not something I’ve seen anywhere else. This is real vegetarian cooking, doing interesting things with vegetables and beans, not trying to copy meat-and-two-veg cooking, offering crepes, roulades and tasty gratins.
I like Black Bo’s for an early dinner although sometimes it’s just too quiet.
Black Bo’s Restaurant
57 – 61 Blackfriars Street
Tel: 0131 557 6136
Henderson’s is an institution. Ladies who lunch have gone here for years for a glass of something nice and a vegetarian slap-up meal or a generous cake. A self-service restaurant that offers healthy and hearty food, what it lacks in modern cooking it makes up for with the generosity of its servings. (I’m talking about the down-stairs restaurant – the upstairs Bistro is of a more recent date and offers slightly more formal dining.) Henderson’s is great for lunch, or a quick and cheap dinner. You’ll find a number of salads, enormous potato croquettes, veggie haggis, baked aubergine and similar traditional food with a Mediterranean or Scottish flavour. The restaurant is cozy and one section is now a small gallery with art of, as you’d expect, varying quality.
It might sound as if I’m not a fan, but I am. Henderson’s serves tasty salads and desserts, a good range of drinks and decent coffee and some very tasty mains. The decor isn’t me, but hey, I can live with that when I feel so comfortable here.
94 Hanover Street
Edinburgh, EH2 1DR
Tel: 0131 225 2131