CLOSED: Hendersons at St. John's

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 13 reviews )



3 Lothian Road (at Edinburgh's West End, under St John's Church), Edinburgh, Scotland, EH2 4BJ

The Henderson's business includes 2 vegetarian restaurants, a shop and deli, and art gallery. Hendersons @ St. John's took over the Cornerstone Cafe beneath St John's Church in late summer 2009 as reported to HappyCow. It's a teahouse serving snacks, baked potatoes, sandwiches, soups, salads, daily specials. JAN 2016 REPORTED SHUT THIS OUTLET.

Categories: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Organic, Western, Beer/Wine, Catering, Scottish

13 Reviews

First Review by hack_man

West End Lunch Stop - Edit

I quite often pop in to Henderson's at St John's after my Saturday morning French class. It's an outpost of the original Henderson's on Hanover Street, which has been serving vegetarian food in Edinburgh since the 1960s. Note that one of the earlier reviews is actually describing that one, not this one.

Henderson's at St John's is in the undercroft of St John's Episcopal Church, which is well known for activism in social justice and human rights. The café is next door to the Peace and Justice Centre, a Christian bookshop and the One World Shop (temporarily relocated to Nicholson Square due to ongoing refurbishment work).

The cafe is really a vegetarian canteen, with all dishes on display and described in detail on a blackboard, coded for gluten-containing ingredients. On my latest visit, I had a bowl of celery, broccoli and leek soup (£4.25). I was asked if I wanted bread, which I did; I think oatcakes are also available. I was also given croutons (fried with black pepper and garlic, I think) on the side and some butter. If you don't want butter, you should say. Chilled tap water with mint and lemon is available on a side table; just help yourself.

The soup was old-school wholefood; the kind you can just about stand a spoon up in. The bread was good, tasty wholemeal; the croutons were made from the same bread. So, this place is nothing fancy but you'll get a filling lunch in a part of town where there aren't a lot of veggie options. It's great if you're shopping on Princes Street and need to refuel. You can also choose one of several hot dishes, served with your choice of a range of salads (just over a tenner).

Due to its location, this café does attract an older crowd. I had a lovely conversation with a spritely 87 year-old Dutch-Scottish lady who asked if she could sit at my table while she waited for her friend. Also worth noting that, whether you sit inside or out, you will be surrounded by funerary monuments! You will, though, get an atmospheric, historic setting to enjoy your lunch.

Pros: Wholefood; handy location for shoppers; good range

Cons: Fairly pricey; shabby toilets

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Not exciting - Edit

It’s fine if you want to try “traditional Scottish food” that is vegan, but the vegan haggis was boring and the filo it was baked in was undercooked so it ended up chewy rather than fluffy. The blueberry scone was good, but they offered me a pat of butter (which I assumed was not vegan because they didn’t specify that it was) after I had already clearly ordered vegan options. It was actually not raining when I went so it was nice to sit outside in the courtyard, which was quiet and had trees. There were other vegan options that I didn’t try, but they looked like they were kind of drying out in the buffet-style area where they were already prepared and had been sitting for a while. It was a cute building and had some salad options that might have been nice.

Pros: Cute old stone building, Beautiful courtyard

Cons: Bland food

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Great food in a great place! - Edit

Eating at Hendersons St John's is a unique experience as the restaurant is located in a church just next to a cemetery.
The restaurant works like a cantine and you can choose between several daily menus, included 1 or 2 vegan options.
The portions are huge and very tasty!
Funny thing I noticed when going there is that there were a lot of elderly people having their lunch :-)
I tried the "baked potatoe" and was a bit disappointed...the vegan option was just the potatoe, they just didn't serve the cheddar with it so it was a bit tasteless...

Pros: Place, Price

Cons: Not enough vegan options

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good choice - Edit

like its original a good choice for healthy eating. decent salad bar, sandwiches and cakes.
a few hot dishes which like the bigger store, are good but not excellent.
a much nicer feel and a good space, if you get a good day there is some seating outside with a castle view. there is a god one world shop a few door down as well.
I thought the three salad option was pricey at £7.50, but it was huge!

I had my work xmas night out here last week and it was a good experience. it didn't go without hitches but the manager adam ran a tight ship and i'm sure it will improve. it isn't open in the evenings normally and this is where the glitches came in, service was really friendly but a bit mixed speed wise at time. i really think it should try and open in the evening next summer especially during the festival as its a great space and the outside seating area is great in the summer.

there were several options for each course and they had a festive twist(i had a biryani which had the festive brussel sprouts), while my other half had the veggie haggis parcels. all the food was tasty although some were a bit heavy. the food was good but not out of this world, but i'm sure with more functions/evening it would improve quickly.
staff were great and the location is great.

Pros: location, staff, outside seating

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Overpriced - Edit

My friend and I came here for dinner, as it was in the vicinity of the National Gallery, which we had just been visiting late. On arrival, we chose to be seated in the lower, more dimly lit part of the dining area, which we then discovered had rather imposing lounge music being played by a band. Looking at the menu, we found the prices a little higher than we'd want, but decided to see what the food was like. For starters I ordered the bruschetta (£4.50), which was fine but not exciting. My friend ordered the soup (as she is wont to do when eating out), which was bean and cauliflower and she found it "pleasant." We also ordered beer which never arrived. For the main I had the Haggis Moneybag, which was vegan haggis encased in filo pastry. The haggis had a nutty texture and was quite dry, yet I was disinclined to use the accompanying sauce, which was a bit like what I can only describe as a thin, slightly fruity gravy. (I know it wasn't that but it tasted like that.) Kindly enough, the staff had agreed to substitute potato wedges for the potato and carrot mash. My friend had ordered the medium salad plate with three salads (£5.95) and was somewhat disappointed when presented with a smallish bowl of salad dominated by rice (from the tamari rice salad) and few vegetables. Likewise I found the portion size of my meal underwhelming for the price (£11.95). We did carry on to have dessert and both ordered the vegan cheesecake with vegan ice cream (£5.75). Unfortunately rather than a nicely set, sharply flavoured filling with a fruity topping, there was a mousse-like filling with all the fruit thrown in with it. Not brilliant. For this price I'm not sure we'd be back in a hurry.

Pros: Clearly provided dietary information, Accommodating staff

Cons: Overpriced for the quality, portion size

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nice but a bit expensive for the quality of food.. - Edit

i went there only once while my brief stay in edinburg. i took a lentil soup and a set of salads. i got a slice of gluten free toast bread. the soup was nice but nothing special - lacking the taste. same with salads. there were no vegan gluten free cake options. i also had a feeling i payed much more then i could eating elsewhere and was still hungry. i also didnt enjoy very much the interior - spacious place with many wooden tables.

Pros: friendly staff

Cons: expensive, small portions, tasteless

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No vegan very disappointing! - Edit

I popped in here the other day with a friend to grab a tea and hopefully cake. Zero cake options for vegans which seems quite ridiculous given that I'm sure I'm not the only person who prefers to avoid animal products that goes into such an establishment. I questioned this and I was told that it was a vegetarian, not a vegan cafe. This is obviously true but I won't go back as I felt alienated and not very welcomed.

Cons: No vegan cakes, Not friendly

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Thank you Hendersons! - Edit

This place is so lovely, and a regular dining spot for me!

The place itself is gorgeous, in the basement of an old church with vaulted/arched ceilings. Sometimes this means it feels a bit dark, but hey, it's ambient! They also have a nice outside space so you can eat on the patio in summer.

The food is always great and there are almost always vegan options, even cake! The only time there isn't is towards the end of the day when they might have run out of something... but they will try to accommodate you if you ask! Everything is fresh and delicious - I particularly love the hummus platter, which consists of LOADS of their great homemmade hummus with toasted flatbreads, salad, roasted veggies and olives. So lovely! The cakes are always great too!

The staff are great people -- especially Barry, he is awesome! They are very helpful and generally friendly too, although sometimes it's super busy and they're rushing about. Hendersons is also a great venue for cultural stuff, I particularly recommend the Shore Poets, a live literature night that happens that last Sunday of every month. The lovely Hendersons staff are on hand throughout to serve beers and cakes, which is always a nice accompaniment to a bit of poetry!

Pros: Lovely food, Cake cake cake, Hooray for nice staff!

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Hendersons at St. John's, Edinburgh - Edit

I was in this place on Dec 27th. I arrived fairly close to their closing time and was told there wasn't much choice left for me as a vegan grade vegetarian. Only thing available then was cherry tart so I had a slice.

The setting is very nice in an area under very nice arches. No issues with the ambience and as would be hoped, the guy serving who exactly what I meant when I asked whats vegan.

I am not overly experienced re this venue but there were a couple of other things that match the perception I already have of Henderson's from their other place. Firstly the would was lovely. While very nice it seemed a little over priced for what you get for your cash.

It wasn't much past 4 pm when I went and they were gearing up for closing down. I'm unsure if that's because it was in between Christmas and New Year.

Location is a good choice. This seems to be the only all vego eatery around Edinburgh's West End and fills a nice little gap.

Pros: Vegan vego friendly, Central

Cons: A little pricey for what you get

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YUMMY surprise! - Edit

After reading the 3 old reviews I wasn't sure what to expect. My mother and I went for lunch and because I wasn't too hungry I only ordered a tomato coriander soup which turned out to be great. My mother ordered the spicy black bean burger with guacamole, chips and salsa. Wow were we in for a treat! My mother shared a bite with me and suddenly I was hungry and had to go order one for myself. The price was nice and the location was gorgeous out under the giant trees in the gardens. Very peaceful.

Pros: YUMMY food!, Beautiful scenery, Good prices

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Great casual lunch spot - Edit

Good simple place for lunch, very much in tune with Henderson's main venues. "hack_man" should revisit!

Pros: Reasonable range of food, Pleasant venue, Outdoor seating

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Much improved - Edit

For years I avoided this place when it was the Cornerstone Cafe. The food was uninspired, and the one or two fish dishes on the menu stank the place out. I first noticed the change of ownership during the Fringe, and popped in to see what was on offer. I made a second visit a few weeks later to relax after shopping at the farmers' market, and to confirm that the change of ownership wasn't just temporary for the Fringe and Festival.

The cafe is located beneath a church, in a crypt, which provides a strangely gothic environment.

The menu is very much lunch-oriented, with soups, sandwiches, salads and a few entrées, none of which are cooked to order. The sandwiches and salads are mostly vegan, and one of the two soups always is, as far as I can tell. The food is solid and filling, with very little excitement except in the salads which are often quite unusual. Not that this matters if what you want is a good lunch. There isn't much for veggies at this end of town, and this should prove a welcome stop for shoppers.

Pros: no longer stinks of fish, good solid food, handy location

Cons: churchy environment, food not particularly exciting

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Shame it's Not Veggie anymore - Edit

Use to be a veggie place but now sells sandwiches with sliced meat. Quite a boring place with uninspired choice. Basically a tea house with snacks. Unless you happen to pass by give it a miss, Edinburgh has so many veggie places that you do not need to go here.

Cons: not veggie

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