Festive Weekend in Edinburgh
Christmas Markets are one of my absolute favourite parts of the festive season. Last year me and Mr. Canny visited Manchester, which was lovely if a bit busy. As a surprise I booked a stay in Edinburgh this year as we didn’t have a chance to celebrate Mr. Canny’s birthday with our house move, and set about doing research about where we could eat while visiting.
I asked my followers on Twitter for vegan restaurant recommendations and two were touted – Henderson’s and David Bann. Knowing how busy the market can get I made plans which centred around targeting the festive events as early as possible through the day and then eating later on to ensure we weren’t jostled about. I’m not good in crowds at the best of times, but my patience is pretty scant when it comes to folks lack of spatial awareness and my bump!
One of our very first dates was spent in Edinburgh and we had a lovely meal in The Secret Garden at The Witchery, which is situated near Edinburgh Castle. I was very tempted to return as I knew at this time of year it would be especially magical with the decorations, but struggled with the menu. My other choice was The Dome, but alas getting a reservation was like finding a hen’s tooth. Instead we visited for drinks, which allowed us to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate the pretty lights. As great as Fenwick’s window is, it doesn’t quite live up to the OTT tree and sparkle of The Dome’s interior and exterior. It made me feel especially Christmassy before hitting the market.
Due to the appalling weather the market was quieter than anticipated, which was fantastic news. It did mean we didn’t get the chance to go on the Ferris Wheel, which I was a little disappointed by. The lack of queues meant I could sample lots of different Teutonic foods til my heart was content: Poffertjes, Pretzels, something called Chimney Cake (or Kurtoskalacs, as I later discovered), and Lebkuchen. There was no Gluhwein this year, for obvious reasons, but the Hot Chocolate went down a treat in the rain. Christmas Markets up and down the country tend to have the same items on sale like wooden music boxes, tree decorations and Nutcrackers, all crafted in a traditional style. My favourite purchase was my festive tea light globe, which features a snowy scene. Since the market I’ve discovered Dotty House, a local store, stocks one featuring North East scenes. A great gift idea at only £12.
Henderson’s was fantastic, and reminded me a lot of Newcastle’s Super Natural restaurant. 2 courses were £12, and everything on the menu was vegetarian or vegan. I was determined to try their Lasagne, which was so good even a staunch omnivore wouldn’t have grumbled Mr. Canny chose their Spicy Apricot & Lentil Soup to start with, which he had with oatcakes. It was filling enough to have just in its own, but he followed it with their famous vegetarian Haggis. Made with kidney beans, lentils, mushrooms and spices, the general consensus was that it didn’t look that appealing, That said, you’d never catch me eating the ‘regular’ version! Served with neeps and tatties Mr. Canny said it was an interesting take on the original and promptly cleared his plate.
Determined to try one of their many desserts I opted for the Banana and Berry Crumble. It had an overpowering coconut taste for me, which made it difficult to eat. Mr. Canny helpfully polished it off though. With drinks our meal was less than £30, which we thought was reasonably priced for the standard of food. The restaurant itself is divided into two eating areas, and we’d recommend sitting in the area which is decorated with murals. This feels more intimate than the cafe style seating near the food counters where we sat. The deli upstairs is also great for a hot chocolate and light bites, and we bought a few stocking fillers while there.
Later in the evening, and feeling peckish after all of our walking round, we found a pizzeria near to our hotel which touted itself as vegan and veggie friendly. Novapizza is still within reasonable walking distance of the centre, so would be great for a light lunch. We’ll admit we weren’t warmly welcomed when we arrived, but the atmosphere ‘softened’ as the evening wore on. Vegan wine and beers are available, meaning Mr. Canny could have a red with his Calzone. I’m not really keen on vegan cheese, but even I was won over by whichever variety they use. Our two pizzas and drinks came to a respectable £22.There was no space for their cheesecakes, which are heartily recommended on TripAdvisor, mores the pity. I wish they’d open in Newcastle!
Our Sunday was spent at the Castle and visiting Camera Obscura, which is an attraction both Mr. Canny and I were keen to see. Standard admission is £13.95 per adult, but you can return later in the day should you wish. We were sent straight to the top for our viewing slot of said ‘camera’, which gives you fantastic views of the Edinburgh skyline. As the weather was better on the Sunday it meant we could also enjoy views out to the East Lothian coast on the rooftop viewing platform, alongside Arthur’s Seat and a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the Royal Mile.
The interactive displays and exhibitions inside are also great fun, even for grown-ups, and we spent a long time larking round before leaving for our reservation at David Bann. There’s a very nice place opposite called The Royal Mile Cafe should you need a cuppa, and I’d recommend their moist Chocolate Brownie. There’s a fantastic breakfast menu, but I was saving myself for later.
Situated not far from the Royal Mile, David Bann is clearly a well regarded vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant in the city. Having perused the menu beforehand I knew the Goats Cheese Tarlet was my choice. Coupled with their Chunky Chips, it was a filling lunch for me. Mr. Canny’s Aubergine, Chickpea and Cashew Koftas were a popular option with other diners in the restaurant while we were there, and he agreed they were fantastic. The desserts suitable for him were thin on the ground, which made me feel slightly guilty tucking into my Hot Apple and Calvados Tart. As a sweetener I asked for the chocolate vegan ice cream as an accompaniment, which I thoughtfully left for Mr. Canny to eat.
We left feeling it was a shame Newcastle lacked what could be classed as a fine dining establishment for veggies and vegans. As good as the food is in Painted Elephant and the like, the ambiance doesn’t quite match that of David Bann. Prices were reasonable, and Mr. Canny enjoyed his Kelpie Seaweed Ale.
Thanks for reading,