There are a few monthly vegan supper clubs and vegan nights around Edinburgh to choose from if you’re interested in knowing more about eating a plant-based diet. It’s also great for vegans living in the capital city to have more options to choose from when eating out. I’ve already reviewed Bread Street Brasserie’s Vegan Night (here) and today I’m sharing with you a completely different experience with The Herbivore Supper Club.
The Herbivore Kitchen is the company behind their (takes a deep breath) vegan friendly cakes and brownie boxes, The Herbivore Kitchen police box on Melville Drive near The Meadows as well as catering services and The Herbivore Supper Club, a 5-course dinner, hosted every month. Phew, that was a long list of accomplishments! The lady behind this successful enterprise is Alison, who started off the company as All About Patisserie and is now focusing on offering more vegetarian and vegan-friendly alternatives. Soon, on Sunday 23rd July, will also be the grand opening of The Herbivore Kitchen vegetarian cafe with lots of vegan options on South Clerk Street!
I attended The Herbivore Supper Club in June after hearing about it and seeing it pop up on my Facebook news feed often so I decided to give it a try. Previously, the location of each of the supper clubs have been kept a secret until closer to the time, but I believe the July supper club on Friday will be taking place on their new cafe on South Clerk Street.
The June supper club was held in the Garden Room, a conservatory space at the back of Broughton St Mary’s Church with beautifully set long tables. On arrival, we were welcomed with a flute of lime and cardamom infused iced tea before the next 5 courses were served once the full party has arrived. I’m not very adventurous with trying new dishes or teas, but when it’s put in front of me I will give it a try. I was most pleasantly surprised by the wonderful combination between the flavour of cardamom and the slight tang from the lime.
We were then given a brief introduction to The Herbivore Kitchen by our two hosts and chefs of the evening and what to expect from the evening as well as being informed of the charity raffle being held that night for vegan bottles of wine and their brownie selection boxes amongst other wonderful donated prizes, with all donations going towards the SSPCA.
We didn’t have to wait long before the first course arrived on a beautiful long serving platter. Neatly lined up on rows, we were offered mini poppadoms with mango chutney, sweet potato bhaji and cucumber raita, and spicy deep fried cauliflower with tamarind dip.
Each nibble was lovely and is perfectly portioned for finger foods at events looking for vegan catering. I’d heard a lot about it before, but it was my first taste of deep fried cauliflower. It’s a wonderful dish that combines the familiar slight crunch of batter or fried batter with the softness of cooked cauliflower. I’m used to poppadoms that are thin and crispy, but the ones made on the night were thicker and more bread-like, possibly from the ingredients they were made with. It wasn’t bad, but a different experience for me, and it definitely went well with the mango chutney. The sweet potato bhaji and raita was also nice with a slight sweet taste without being overwhelming.
Each of the courses came soon after everyone had finished their previous course. Although there were a lot of hungry customers, we weren’t kept waiting for long between courses and in part, I think has a lot to do with the efficient staff who took our dishes away, kept the water jug topped up and brought out the next course.
Spinach, almond and green bean samosa, gooseberry and Nigella seed relish with ribboned carrots
I loved the samosa, it was something familiar but with a different filling that tasted just as good (if not better!) than other samosas I’ve had before. The almonds with ribboned carrot and relish went well together, giving a different texture between the salad leaves, soft carrot and crunchy almond. At the rate we were filling our tummies, I was worried that I would be too full to eat the remaining courses, but it seems The Herbivore Kitchen team has thoughtfully planned out their supper club menu to make sure there’s enough food to feed those with a healthier appetite, but not provide too much food for those with a smaller one.
Tandoori aubergine with green tomato and yellow split pea daal, homemade cumin chapati and coriander chutney
The third course was an interesting one. There was nothing wrong with the food itself, although it seemed to be more of the main course, there was plenty of veg there to fill you up, it was a little difficult to successfully pair the daal with the aubergine. My friend, whom I realised was attending the event shortly before it was held, and I agreed the amount of daal presented was more like a bowl of soup and there wasn’t enough chapati to scoop the daal with. A few other guests along the table ended up drinking from the bowl as such, while some of us tried to eat from the bowl with a fork as no soup spoons were offered. The aubergine was an interesting dish on its own, but I find it’s quite hard to get the right consistency for cooked aubergine, so it might have been my own bias towards this particular vegetable. The only aubergine dish I’ve had that I actually liked was miso topped baked aubergine.
Chai spiced rum baba with caramelised peach and vanilla ice cream
I’ve never had rum baba before, but I think I’ve found a new cake-like dessert that I enjoy. Usually the dish is spiced with liqueur like rum, but in this instance it was flavoured with chai. I enjoyed it lot and it paired well with the caramelised peach and vanilla ice cream with a coconut milk base. I’m usually not a big fan of coconut, but the flavour in the ice cream was subtle and really worked well with the peach and rum baba.
To end the night while the raffle was being held, we were served spiked mango lassi which had a lovely creamy texture and mint tea or coffee if we desired. I had the lassi which had a lovely flavour, even if you’re not a big fan of mango like me (it’s more to do with my intolerance and OAS than not liking the fruit itself) you won’t notice it too much.
The Herbivore Supper Club is a great monthly vegan event with a whole host of dishes inspired by a theme, in this case Indian inspired dishes. Instead of the restaurant experience I had at Bread Street Brasserie, The Herbivore Supper Club hosts more guests than I expected. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, to be honest, but it was quite a big dinner party atmosphere and is best attended with a friend or family member if dining yourself and meeting new people isn’t quite your thing.
For £35 a ticket and 5-courses with a drink on arrival and tea or coffee at the end, for the amount of food you get from 5-courses and the amount of preparation before, during and after the meal, I would highly recommend The Herbivore Supper Club if you’re vegan or interested in eating plant-based food.
The next Herbivore Supper Club on Friday 23rd July at their new cafe on South Clerk Street is now sold out, but if you want to keep an eye out for last minute cancellations or find out more about their next supper club in August, visit their Facebook event page (here) or their website here.