• Black Bo’s in Edinburgh: Fine food, fine place fine people.

    January 18th, 2011mr meaneredinburgh, more restaurants (not LA)

    I’ve long had a love affair with Edinburgh: the most Scottish of Scottish cities. When I lived in London I’d frequently take the sleeper train up late at night for the fringe performances at the Edinburgh Festival, enjoying such classic performances as “Macbeth: In Klingon” and “Live sex on stage as performance art”. Curiously, the second of those two fringe shows had a much bigger crowd than the first!

    While the Edinburgh festival fringe shows don’t remotely stereotype this amazing city, the description of Black Bo’s restaurant on their website could also apply to Edinburgh in general: “Some people call it Bohemian, some call it Leftfield, others call it rustic, alternative, quaint, eclectic, esoteric or simply – ‘That Really Nice Place We Went To 6 Months Ago And Have Never Been Able To Find Again’.”

    Situated in the heart of Edinburgh but in a quiet cobbled street just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh’s main railway station, Black Bo’s is a truly wonderful vegetarian restaurant that’s so unique in appearance, menu and vibe that I can’t think of anywhere remotely like it except, perhaps, Elf in Los Angeles.

    Upon walking into Black Bo’s, you’re presented with a lovely bar area: tables, comfortable seating, tap beer and a huge wine selection. The rear restaurant area has large windows overlooking the Edinburgh rooftops under which sit plenty of comfortable tables and chairs. We were there around sunset time just as the long shadows crept across the bare wooden floors, the perfect autumn light punctuated only by the well melted candles and reflections from the bright stucco beyond.

    After being seated at an oversized two-top table we began to peruse the extensive menu. Our server reassured us that most things either were vegan, or could be prepared as such, and that the kitchen and chef knew what they were doing. I don’t know about you, but a vegetarian restaurant that knows what vegan means is so much better to dine in than an omnivorous place.

    Baked mushrooms stuffed with "haggis" on a bed of turnip mash. ₤5.50

    First up, we ordered the baked mushrooms stuffed with haggis on a bed of turnip mash. This was perfectly prepared, but the thing that stood out were the mushrooms – amazingly tasty and textured just right, stuffed with vegan haggis. In fact, we were so impressed with them we felt that a mushroom high would be a good idea, so we ordered the garlic bread with garlic mushrooms.

    Garlic bread with garlic mushrooms. ₤4

    This was truly amazing – the mushrooms were so hearty and the bread so crusty and garlicky that we had to eat it with a knife and fork – good job, as it was technically one of our entrees.

    Cashew and beetroot burger on a bagel with red onion relish. (made vegan w/o creme fraiche) ₤10.50

    Our other entree was cashew and beetroot burger on a bagel with red onion relish (made vegan for us without creme fraiche). Again, perfectly prepared and quite original, this was superb. We really liked the use of a bagel as a burger “bun” – giving a more involved texture and chunkier mouth feel than a boring old sesame roll.

    Artichoke and lemon pate with oatcakes. ₤4.50

    As we were rather hungry upon arrival, we’d wolfed down the food way to fast to pace ourselves with our bottle of wine, so we ordered the artichoke and lemon pate with oatcakes as our final course. While the oatcakes must have come from the local supermarket, the pate was astounding – creamy and tangy with a smooth finish – just like the excellent organic wine we’d ordered.

    In all, we spent almost two hours in Black Bo’s. We just didn’t want to leave, even after our food was long gone. Our entertaining server (immortalized in the second picture) took extra trouble to double-check the vegan options and tell us to take our time as the restaurant started to fill up. Eventually we left for a local pub in the shadow of one of the most majestic buildings on earth: Edinburgh Castle. Replete. Full. Happy.

    We really loved Black Bo’s from the moment we saw it on the street until the moment we left. Superb food, wonderful decor and ambience and the nicest people you’ll find anywhere. Highly recommended!

    Black Bo’s
    57-61 Blackfriars St
    Edinburgh EH1 1NB, United Kingdom
    0131 557 6136
    Open 7 days. Restaurant 6-10pm, Bar 5pm-1am

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