I am currently in the process of applying for British Citizenship, which means I’ve been without a passport for a couple of months. Which consequently means no trips abroad. Tough when you work in the travel industry but tougher when you have a friend visiting all the way from Australia and can’t hop over to mainland Europe with her…
However, being without a passport has reminded me just how much there is to see within the UK and has given me the perfect excuse to visit a few cities I’ve not yet made my way to.
So armed with regular photo ID, my cameras and my favourite travel buddy, I headed off on a 9-day trip to Scotland and the north of England.
We did plenty of eating and drinking, of course. so I thought I’d share some of our favourite foodie finds in a mini “Travel Eats” series.
Our first stop was Edinburgh, which I actually have been to before but it was years ago and my friend hadn’t been so I was more than happy to return to this beautiful city.
We were only there for three days so didn’t fit in all the foodie places we looked up but here’s a few of our faves.
The Elephant House
Okay, so we really only went here because it’s the cafe where
Queen J.K. Rowling penned most of the first novels in the Harry Potter series.
The Elephant House, situated in the Old Town, was much larger than I anticipated. We headed straight for the back room where J.K. used to sit in the windows overlooking Greyfriars Churchyard. Beyond the Churchyard you can see Edinburgh Castle perched on the top of the hill. Inspiration for Hogwarts, perhaps?
We only stopped in for a coffee, which was decent enough but honestly, I’m sure most of the punters were there trying to emulate the J.K. Rowling of almost two decades ago. (Yes, two decades!)
But in all honesty, if you’re a Potterhead, it’s worth a stop here just for the loos. Seriously.
Harry Potter fans are nothing if not
obsessed dedicated and I am still silently sobbing over the fact that I didn’t have a pen (not even an eye liner pen!) on me at the time to add to this bathroom masterpiece…
If you do visit the cafe, make sure you head over to the graveyard to check out Tom Riddle’s grave. It’s a shame about the ‘typo’, though…
The cafe is certainly one to remember.
After the excitement of the “Harry Potter Cafe”, we wanted somewhere a little quieter for lunch.
Wandering down The Royal Mile, we stumbled upon an unassuming little place called Sugarhouse Sandwiches. Anyone who specifically advertises “vegetarian options” on their sign gets my vote.
The cafe was very small inside but cosy and friendly. We arrived quite late in the afternoon so they’d sold out of many of their ready-made lunch options but the server was more than happy to recommend to us veggie dishes for the chef to whip up.
The soup of the day was roasted garlic, which sounded divine but as there was only enough for one serving, I took went for the roast veg and falafel toastie. It was hot and delicious, as was the soup, which I sampled from my friend’s bowl! Perfect eats on a drizzly afternoon!
Prices were really decent so it’s a great little place to pop into for lunch, or just to take a break from the hustle and bustle of The Royal Mile.
On our last night in Edinburgh, we decided to treat ourselves. After searching the trusty Happy Cow website for recommendations, we headed to David Bann Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar, located just a few minutes’ walk from The Royal Mile.
David Bann is a modern vegetarian restaurant with an eclectic range of vegetarian and vegan dishes. With a diverse menu, ranging from staple veggie mains with their own twist (Risotto of roasted red pepper with kale and kohlrabi) to modern British-inspired dishes (Parsnip, Bramley apple and Dunsyre Blue cheese mousse) it was almost too hard to decide on our meals. In the end, we shared two starters and narrowed down our mains to a couple of the more unique dishes.
To start we shared the Smoked and marinated tofu with mango chutney and the Thai fritters of broccoli and smoked tofu with banana chutney and plum dressing.
Both dishes were utterly amazing but the smoked tofu really would be one to win over even the strongest bean curd-doubter. I’ve never eaten tofu so light and fluffy and full of flavour. The simple pairing with courgette and mango chutney was perfect.
For mains, my friend went for the Aduki bean and mushroom bake with Tyrol dumpling and I had the Chilli pancake with grilled sweet potato, courgette and chocolate sauce.
The bean and mushroom bake was hearty and homely but the spinach dumpling filled with Applesmoke cheese gave it a unique touch.
My chickpea pancake was light and fluffy and perfect filled with a tasty spicy bean mix. Not usually a massive fan of chocolate-y things (odd, I know), I was surprised that I actually liked mixing a touch of the rich sauce with the spicy filling and sweet salsa. The sweet potato was grilled to perfection and the dish overall felt light but was super-filling and bursting with flavour.
With starters at around £6-£7 and mains around £11-£13, it’s not the cheapest amongst Edinburgh’s veggie restaurants but it’s so worth it.
The Baked Potato Shop
On our last day in Edinburgh, we just had to try out The Baked Potato Shop. Located in the Old Town, just off The Royal Mile (and handily, right near our hostel) the all-veggie cafe has made a name for itself since its inception in the early eighties.
The concept is simple – choose your jacket potato size (we got a small and it was MASSIVE), add your filling/s from the large range of hot and cold options (including vegan haggis if you so desire) and match with a drink for a meal deal for extra value. For around £5-£6, you can get a seriously decent lunch or dinner.
We both went for the vegetable curry, which was super-tasty, super-filling and had a decent kick to it. Thankfully, we managed to get one of the few seats inside as the seriously-loaded potato is not one to eat on the go!
The cafe also serves a range of sweet and savoury veggie snacks and cakes including tiffin, vegan sausage rolls and vegan haggis samosas.
Next time I may brave some of that haggis!
Of course we also had to sample the pubs of the city. It would be rude not to, right?
We started off with a lazy afternoon pint in a hidden beer garden in the Old Town. Looking like any other pub from the front, the overflowing bar area led on to a “secret” beer garden out the back. So secret, I don’t remember what the pub was called… sorry.
Okay, fine… it was The Beehive Inn. Just don’t tell them I told you!
After a rainy end to our exploration of the beautiful Edinburgh Castle, we popped into nearby pub The Castle Arms for a pick-me-up. It may not have been very “Scottish” of us but these Irish coffees went down a treat…
And finally, you can’t visit Scotland without sampling some local whisky. In the interest of “research”, we sampled quite a few…
Our favourite pub for whisky had to the The Albanach. Located in prime position right on The Royal Mile, it was friendly and comfortable with drinks at decent prices. With over 250 malt whiskies on the menu, we stuck with the bartenders’ recommendations. I’m certainly no whisky connoisseur but I did leave Edinburgh with a new appreciation for the drink!
Edinburgh is a beautiful city full of history and charm. The locals are friendly, the scenery is stunning and there’s plenty for a veggie to eat and drink!
Next stop… Glasgow!