Dinner and a movie: review of Filmhouse Cafe

There is an impression of Edinburgh as a vegan-unfriendly city, but a recent article (here) will attest to the fact that this is entirely untrue. As a the capital city of Scotland, there are a lot of hidden gems that are yet to be discovered. Restaurants and cafes that aren’t vegan can be seen to offer (and clearly mark) vegan friendly options on their menus. The Filmhouse is no exception.


The OH and I had our first date at the Filmhouse over 7 years ago! The Café Bar was (and still is) one of our favourite places to sit and look at the latest programme over a plate of nachos. The cinema also boasts of a substantial DVD selection for sale as well as other snacks in the box office area while also displaying intricate pieces of work.


Anonymous gift to the Filmhouse from 2011, featuring a scene from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables with lines from Francis Ford Coppola

We hadn’t visited the café since I became vegan, but then again there were a lot of our favourite haunts to rediscover as well as new ones, so it’s no surprise there. We knew there were definitely vegetarian options available (the OH sometimes likes to order vegetarian/vegan options for a change) and I remembered seeing one or two vegan options when I was scouting possible eateries to bring visiting vegan friends, so we decided to see what we could sample.

The Café Bar is a great place to meet friends over drinks and great food, but the cinema itself is also worth noting. Built in 1978, the independent cinema’s biggest house (number 1) is set with velvet red curtains and a stage and is reminiscent of old Holywood style cinema. The films that are showcased celebrates world cinema as well as classics and independent films worth noting with a few blockbuster films as well. The OH and I used to watch black and white or classic films regularly on date nights.

All dishes are clearly marked vegetarian and/or vegan and if the dish can be made vegan. There are quite a few vegan options to choose from, but if you want to know if the other dishes that aren’t marked can be made vegan, the staff behind the bar are very friendly and will be more than happy to help.

After looking at the menu for quite a long time, both the OH and I decided to go for the chickpea curry.

You might wonder if we’re going out on a date night to somewhere like the Filmhouse why you would go for a curry, but this is seriously no ordinary curry. Chickpeas are one of those vegetables that are quite versatile and can be used in a lot of dishes. I’ve got a recipe for garlic roasted chickpeas for snacking, it can also be substituted for a vegan tuna or egg mayo filling and the water it’s cooked in (called aquafaba) is also great for making mousse, meringue or macarons!

The sauce itself doesn’t taste too much of Indian curry, but is spicy enough to feel like a curry. It’s got a nice creamy texture without being too thick or too watery, I felt there was enough sauce there for the dish not to feel too dry, but I also don’t like having too much sauce to mix with my grains, so it was a perfect combination. The best part of the dish was the cracked (or bulgar) wheat it was served with and vegan naan (for vegans, ask for the dish without yoghurt).

I’d never really had cracked wheat before so was interested in knowing what it was like. When it arrived, I though it looked like bigger grains of cous cous. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the slight musty/grainy taste of cous cous. I know you can cook it with stock to give it a bit more flavour, but from previous salad dishes that I’ve had, the taste lingers in my mind and I’ll need some convincing to eat it again. I was game to try cracked wheat though and it definitely didn’t disappoint. There was no musty grain flavour at all and reminded me of rice in terms of consistency (albeit with smaller and rounder grains) and taste.

The naan was also nice and stretchy. I was expecting it to be quite a thin and crispy white bread-type texture, but I love the stretchy and chewy naan. The Filmhouse make great vegan naan! All in all, I loved the combination of the chickpea with the cracked wheat and naan, it’s a big enough portion that you definitely won’t still be feeling hungry afterwards.

I look forward to going back more often with the OH and with friends to sample more of their other dishes soon!

The Filmhouse Café Bar is open Monday to Friday from 9:00am (10:00am on Saturday and Sunday) till 11:30pm (Sunday to Thursday) and 12:30am (Friday and Saturday).

The Filmhouse can be found at 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ. For more information on film showings, to book tickets or for any other information, visit their website here.

What’s your favourite memory of The Filmhouse? What’s your favourite dish from the Café Bar?

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