Welcome to the second review of Vegan In Scotland, the blog series in which I review vegan/vegetarian restaurants, cafés and shops in Scotland. Ever since I moved here, I realised it is noticeably harder to eat out and stick to a plant-based diet in Scotland than it was when I lived in London. After several months of frustration, I am making it my mission to suss out vegan/vegetarian places to eat all over Scotland — if it takes me all the way out to the Hebrides! (But hopefully not.) You can read the first review about Stereo in Glasgow here.
I’ve wanted to have dinner at David Bann in Edinburgh for months now. This vegetarian/vegan restaurant boasts positive reviews on HappyCow.net, a site I am finding rather useful these days. My lunch companion and me headed out to Edinburgh on a chilly overcast Sunday in search of exciting, satisfying food.
David Bann is located in St Mary’s Street, off the Cowgate and Royal Mile in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town. It’s possibly my favourite part of Edinburgh, with its centuries-old monuments and pretty cobbled streets, street vendors and the inevitable bagpiper. The restaurant itself is fairly inconspicuous, and you wouldn’t know it is a specifically vegetarian restaurant unless you were previously aware of it. We were greeted by friendly staff who showed us to a table by the window. For a Sunday lunchtime it was rather quiet, but the atmosphere was low-key and sophisticated.
Our waitress let us know about the soup of the day: leek, potato and butterbean, not vegan or gluten-free, unfortunately – it’s reassuring to know they are aware of their customers’ varied dietary requirements. My dining companion ordered the soup, since he’s not vegan, and I opted for what I could only describe as the logical meal for me to order: a chilli pancake with roasted vegetables, grilled sweet potato and chocolate. (Yes, chocolate in my main meal! Oh heaven, oh delight! I was positively squirming with anticipation.) I would have felt disappointed to leave without trying the marinated fried tofu with mango chutney, so I ordered that as a side dish. We drank some water flavoured with slices of fresh lemon and orange.
The wait was not long at all. My eyes, firstly, were satisfied as soon as I saw my pancake – it was simply marvellous, from presentation to the size of the meal – and then my tastebuds as I took my first bite. All the flavours were so perfectly balanced: juicy roasted vegetables, just the right amount of spice that leaves you feeling warm and cosy, not like your tongue’s been charred off, and that chocolate – simply sublime. The stuff of dreams. I would try to recreate it at home but I doubt I would ever get it right.
My companion, a man of few words as you know, gobbled up his soup and bread, which can only be translated with a mild Limerick accent as: ‘Lovely, that.’
For two people our bill came to just under £20, which I consider to be a fair price, especially considering the quality of the food. I will dream of that pancake for years to come. True, we ate modestly, but I can vouch for the affordability of the entire menu.
Sadly, I did not see any of the desserts on the menu indicated as vegan or ‘could be made vegan’. Perhaps if you intend to dine at David Bann you can phone ahead and inform them of your dietary needs, and I’m sure, considering the helpfulness of the staff, that they might prepare something specially for you.
I heartily recommend this elegant restaurant to anyone who wants to experience vegan food at a higher culinary level. This would be the perfect location for a grown-up birthday party, a business meeting or a date. Though that pancake was so delicious I might be tempted to return by myself very soon!
Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I am not endorsed for this review and the meal was not complimentary.
Have you been to David Bann? Any good dishes I should try next time?