I’m always happy to be proven wrong when I have already formed a first impression about something or someone. I attended one of The Herbivore Supper Clubs previously (see here) and wasn’t quite sure I enjoyed the food as much as I thought I would. Whether or not this was a result of my changing palate, when Emma (from Vegan Edinburgh), Lucie (from Call Me Dumpling), some friends and I decided to go to the October Herbivore Supper Club, I was happy to give it another go.
This is the first time I’ve attended their supper club at their new cafe, The Herbivore Kitchen on Clerk Street, which has been open for a few months now. The premises are cosy with well-spaced tables, homey teapots with tea cosies and mugs that welcome you to wrap your hands around them, artwork and candles created by local artists and designers.
If you’ve never been to The Herbivore Supper Club before, you’re presented with a drink on arrival followed by a 5-course meal with a variety of delicious food.
Pear and ginger bourbon
The welcome cocktail reminded me of champagne or prosecco, but it tastes anything but. I’m not a big fan of dry alcoholic drinks and I’m also not a big fan of the strong taste of ginger, but this cocktail was lovely, refreshing and slightly sweet and bubbly as a result of the pear juice. It was a lovely drink to slowly sip and enjoy and if this was ever a cocktail served in restaurants or bars, I would be seriously considering this as something I would drink when out with friends.
Starters (from left): shortbread with a cherry tomato and rocket pesto; celeriac and carrot velouté; and rye and poppy seed cracker, beetroot jelly and ‘cream cheese’
Everything we were served is handmade by Alison, owner of The Herbivore Kitchen and her team. It comes as no surprise then that the shortbread was nice and soft and paired nicely with the fresh half cherry tomato and homemade rocket pesto. I love rocket and I really liked the slight kick of peppery rocket in the pesto with the sweet cherry tomato.
I’ve never tried velouté before and again knowing that celeriac has a strong celery flavour, I wasn’t quite sure if I would like it. I shouldn’t have worried at all, the soup taster was the perfect balance of flavour without being overwhelming. It was slightly sweet, still hot without scalding out tongue and gone within a second. It was just that lovely!
The beetroot jelly complemented the ‘cream cheese’ nicely and the rye and poppy seed cracker was nice and crunchy. It’s a lovely combination of textures and a mixture of different flavours that just somehow worked really well together.
Spinach and tarragon roulade, puy lentils and wild mushrooms
This roulade was very nice and almost tasted like a mint-coloured cake. The slightly sweet taste worked well with the savoury puy lentils. You might remember from previous posts, but I’ve had a bad experience with uncooked lentils which left an impression on my mind that lentils are hard and crunchy, but I loved the soft and melt-in-your-mouth lentils served with the roulade and the sprinkle of shimeji mushrooms on top.
Mini pumpkin stuffed with Herbivore haggis, parsnip purée, charred purple sprouting, and bay leaf and shallot cream
I absolutely love butternut squash and pumpkins, so to be served this mini pumpkin on a plate was a delight! Some might find pumpkin a bit of a sweet vegetable, but because of my sweet tooth, I absolutely love finding naturally sweet fruit and vegetables. Again, I think the previous courses have set the tone: the sweet pumpkin contrasts nicely with the savoury homemade haggis while the parsnip purée acts as a complementary tatty substitute. The charred purple sprouting stalks also provides a nice and slightly crunchy texture to the soft parsnip, haggis and pumpkin while the bay leaf and shallot cream brings all the flavours together.
Trio of British puddings with custard (clockwise from top left): apple and blackberry crumble; treacle tart and sticky toffee pudding
One thing I find I usually difficulty with when it comes to dessert is trying to choose just one. The sample sizes of the dessert means you don’t have to pick and you can sample all three to your heart’s content. I can’t fault any of the three desserts at all. The apple and blackberry crumble was exactly what I want in crumble with a nice and crumbly top over cooked soft fruit. I’ve never tried treacle tart before and was surprised to find how nicely tasted with the pastry. The sticky toffee pudding tastes amazing. I love when people create vegan recipes that taste like the non-vegan versions. This allows us vegans to still enjoy what we love without compromising on taste, and also showing non-vegans that it’s possible to create well-loved and known dishes without using any animal ingredients.
Battenburg with mint tea
I didn’t go for the last course as I was too full to fit anything else in, but I was told it was delicious. It might not be quite your thing if you’re like me and aren’t too keen on marzipan. It was quite difficult to tell if it tasted like marzipan but it had a similar texture, I was told, although it didn’t taste quite so strongly as marzipan.
Herbivore Supper Club is usually held on the second week of every month and costs £35 to book your space. If you’re interested in trying out their food but don’t want to stay for a full 5-course meal, you can also visit The Herbivore Kitchen premises at 65 Clerk Street, EH8 9JQ, during the day between 9:00am and 8:00pm daily to taste their new autumn menu that launched on Tuesday (17th October) this week.