Homecoming at Henderson's
Graceful homecoming at a fine old Edinburgh powerhouse
This article is from 2009.
Henderson’s is an Edinburgh stalwart whose vegetarian power base, begun on Hanover Street in the early sixties, has slowly but surely expanded to dominate an entire street front. There are reasons for its success. It’s a business built with love, and its Homecoming dinner is probably one of very few in Edinburgh where you really will feel welcomed and perhaps even brought home.
The evening begins with a glass of cava in the elegant new gallery space upstairs, progresses in fine Scots vegetarian style for three courses (veggie haggis, Cranach, a couple of the dishes a little on the heavy side but for the most part extremely good fare) and is spread through with a medley of Scots folk songs, played between courses and as an hour-long set at the end of the meal.
The singer and hostess for the evening (although Peter Henderson is there as a welcoming face throughout) is Wendy Carle Taylor, accompanied by Ailie Robertson on the clarsach and Tony Mitchell on the guitar, and her singing is a true feast for the soul. She brings joy and wit to old songs and she draws the diners in with warm, heartfelt introductions and frequent invitations to join in, which we do, even when we don't quite know the words or the tune.
One is inevitably suspicious of a 'homecoming' theme applied to the most commercially successful festival Scotland has ever known, and Henderson's dinner has haggis and Burns enough that in any other hands it would feel like a trite money-spinner leaching off old traditions. But it doesn't feel like that, in any sense or at any point. It is a gentle and vibrant and graceful celebration, and it is a very real one. Book your ticket for Sunday evening, but only if you're going to join in.
Henderson’s, until 6 Sep, 5pm, £38.