Henderson’s launch Capital’s first vegan restaurant

IT’S the 1960s trailblazer that took the Capital by storm when it flung open its doors more than half a century ago.

News reporter Alistair Grant tucks in to Henderson's vegan menu. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Now Henderson’s – the city’s original vegetarian restaurant – is pushing frontiers yet again by launching Edinburgh’s first ever dedicated vegan eatery.

Henderson’s Vegan, which will replace the chain’s Bistro in Thistle Street, will start taking bookings from Monday – and promises a “fresh new look” in time for this year’s Festival crowds.

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Manager Barrie Henderson said the launch was a response to “growing awareness and interest” in vegan food 
throughout the UK and across the city, but was quick to point out the restaurant will be just as welcoming to those who don’t normally forgo animal products.

And with a packed menu bursting with delicious flavours – from raspberry and almond salad to lentil and apricot-stuffed chickpea omelettes – the restaurant is sure to prove a hit with more discerning foodies.

Mr Henderson, who has worked in the family’s vegetarian restaurant since his early teens, said the growth in vegan food was partly a result of some high-profile proponents.

He said: “We get more and more people coming to our restaurant for vegan food. We have seen it expand in recent years, and vegan diets have become more mainstream as a result of people like Beyonce and Jay Z.

“But we’re not just looking for experienced vegans to be coming down to the restaurant – everybody can eat vegan food, even if it’s just one day a week.

“[A vegan diet] is much more sustainable – animal farming is the number one cause of global warming in the world. That’s quite a convincing argument for some people to reduce their meat consumption.

“It’s been shown to reduce your food-related carbon footprint by 60 per cent so, given the passion for ethical and sustainable food choices at the heart of the Henderson’s ethos, it is a natural direction for us.

“At Henderson’s Vegan we will have the opportunity to show people what a wide range of cuisine there is. Most people just think of fresh salads but there are a wealth of exciting dishes, decadent desserts and some of the favourite classics, but all without using animal products.

“It’s an exciting project and we are all very excited about the opening at the end of July – we naturally look forward to seeing you there.”

The new Thistle Street restaurant will offer three courses for affordable prices – with starters ranging from £4.75 to £5.50 and main courses coming in at between £10.50 and £12.50. Desserts, meanwhile, will set punters back between £5 and £6.50.

Henderson’s opened its first restaurant, the Salad Table, in 1961 in Hanover Street – where it remains to this day. The popular vegetarian eatery was launched by former rugby internationalist James McLaren “Mac” Henderson and his wife, Janet Millar.

A dedicated bakery for Henderson’s brown loaves and rolls opened in Canonmills just a few years later, quickly followed by Henderson’s Bistro in Thistle Street.