Hendersons, Edinburgh



7 - 13 Barclay Place Edinburgh EH10 4HW

0131 202 1635  www.hendersonsrestaurant.com


The Bill

Lunch Deal (Monday - Friday)


A la carte

Starters  £6.50 - £9.00 | Mains £6.50 - £18.80

Desserts £6.00 - £8.50

The Score

Cooking 7/10 | Service 4/5

Flavour 4.5/5 | Value 4.5/5

TOTAL 20/25

Are your recollections of a great buffet of unusual salads and quiches with rather solid pastry? Were your memories slightly jaded, like those of the late Curmudgeon? Don't ask what the quiche is, he would say. It'll be broccoli. And don't ask about the ice cream, because that'll be broccoli as well. That, of course, would be about 50 years ago, when being a vegetarian was, well, somewhat unusual. In fact, it could have been over 60 years ago, it being 1962 when Janet Henderson founded her eponymous establishment.

Barrie Henderson

Wails of end of an era were loudly heard when the Hanover Street doors were forced to close in 2020 due to The Great Plague. Thankfully, after a mere 18 month absence it's back, still in the same family. Grandson Barrie is now at the helm. To complete a Tom's Food! hat trick this week, Barrie's mum Wendy features in both Tom Cooks! and On The Side. There's now nothing unusual about vegetarian cooking. Indeed, it's arguable that this cuisine has been more innovative and made greater strides forward than many others. Eating here was certainly an eye opener.

They're now just a little way out of the town centre, near Bruntsfield Links in the space which once housed The Apartment. I thought we went on a Saturday, but as the special lunch menu is available only midweek it must have been Friday. That's what happens when you've been retired for ten years. A pleasant space, friendly smiles, charming people. Our waitress (Ellen, I think, must remember to write these things down) warmed up when she realised that not all old people bite.

Years ago, before I knew better, I used to wonder how people could be vegetarian. Not in the sense of how can people not eat meat, just meaning, wouldn't it be boring. That of course was simply an indictment of how truly awful we Brits are at veg cooking. The Indian subcontinent with its plethora of wonderful spices expanded the frontiers, then Yotam Ottolenghi smashed down the doors which opened to the wonders of the Middle East. Twenty years ago, who had heard of sumac and pomegranate molasses, let alone knew where to find them?

There's fusion all over the menu, and generally in a good way. Nduja and mascarpone arancini came with  a zingy puddle of blue cheese dressing (Blue Murder to be precise) and a walnut and chervil pesto. Yes, you're sharing my confusion. Nduja (a spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria) on a vegetarian menu? Read on. Soup of the Day was Friday, a spicy roasted red pepper affair. A darn fine start.

In the absence of Ellen, who was juggling many tables as the place started to jump, I asked her colleague about vegetarian nduja. I forgot to ask her name: in return she forgot to go and find out. We got on with mains, which were of variable quality. Mac n cheese from the lunch deal was poor. Dry with not much cheese in evidence, the onion crumb having more a texture of dust. Fortunately my aubergine had toppings almost too numerous to mention. Start with some chermoula paste (a mix of garlic, cumin, lemon peel, paprika and coriander), and top with warm freekeh (young green wheat). Add a layer of pomegranate and cucumber salsa, then some chive yoghurt, then some sour cherry molasses. Too much? Yes, but in the best possible way. This is a 9/10 dish.

I decided it would be rude not to sample the triple cooked chips. Hmm. I'll take their word for it that these thinnish skin on spuds had had that amount of cooking. If they truly had, ours must have had fry number four, as we sent them back, pale, flaccid and lukewarm. Improved slightly on their return, but a waste of a fiver.

But what is vegetarian nduja? Well after some prompting, my friend who wasn't Ellen reappeared. It's red pepper and harissa beans, she said. Whit!? There was me thinking that harissa was a paste made from red pepper and chillies. She was back a few minutes later. Oops, she said, haricot beans, not harissa. So, now you know.

Puds? Well, of course not. But there were eight to choose from. Cakes, of the cheese and carrot variety, lots of ice cream, a spiced fruit cobbler and a lemon meringue verrine, whatever that may be.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The chips aside, what I ate was terrific, L's food less so. Looking around at the other tables, I'll give the kitchen the benefit of the doubt. Anyone can have the odd blip. Will I go again? (I rather think I should add the probability of this to my scoring system.) Yes, I think I shall. And so should you.


  1. Fiona Garwood on 22nd June 2024 at 9:22 pm

    Sadly, not a patch on the much loved Henderson’s salad bar on Hanover Street, which closed during Covid. Greatly missed by many folk.

    • Tom Johnston on 23rd June 2024 at 9:32 am

      Interesting. Not my experience. When were you last there?

  2. Gill on 24th June 2024 at 6:17 am

    Did they still have the trifle which was always a favourite treat at the original?

    • Tom Johnston on 24th June 2024 at 12:13 pm

      I’ve double checked he menu from our visit. No trifle, sorry.

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