Do you think healthy food can’t taste good? Do you think you can’t get healthy food in a hurry or that locally sourced, healthy food costs the earth? Then you probably haven’t been to the new Moon & Hare artisan eatery and deli at 167 Bruntsfield Place.
And if you hate having to ask – is this gluten free? Vegan? Vegetarian? Then this is also the place for you because Moon & Hare has no gluten containing products on site and is a vegetarian (mostly vegan) eatery serving breakfast, lunch and early evening meals for take away or to sit at one of the cute tables. Here, real veggies are the star with no processed meat like substitutes (I could never understand why anyone want their beautiful, colourful veggies processed to masquerade as greyish-brown meat look-a-likes).
Many meat eaters refer to vegetarian cooking as ‘Rabbit Food’ – perhaps that could be the inspiration behind the name – but certainly not the inspiration for the fabulous food I discovered at Moon & Hare. I was lucky enough to be invited to a ‘Behind the Business’ event through Yelp Edinburgh. I love being part of the Yelp community as I get to try new places, see behind the scenes and meet other Edinburgh locals with a passion for supporting independent business. The Yelp events are quite varied but I was thrilled when I heard this month’s Yelp event was taking us to a vegetarian/vegan cafe! Throw in a chance to meet and chat with the business owners, heaped platters full of tasty, healthy treats and some seriously funny chat and of course you end up with a 5 star event.
The event was held after normal closing time and gave us a chance to explore the space and get to know the staff. The cafe is only a few months old and looks clean fresh and very welcoming with several tables, a mini-shop in the back, and a counter area for service and ALL the food prep (although a bigger kitchen in the cellar is on the cards). There is a simple menu of salads, soups, wraps and smoothies as well as breakfast porridge and waffles. Everything is vegetarian (mostly vegan), gluten free and organic as much as possible. I was glad that thanks to the generosity of Shannon and her staff, we got to eat EVERYTHING because, with all my favourites on the menu (beans, avocados, kale, quinoa, sweet potatoes, beetroot), it would have been very hard to decide what to pick.
Keeping in mind that this is a 9 to 5 cafe (and 6pm on Saturday), not a restaurant, a special thanks must go to Moon & Hare for treating us to a sit down 3 course meal. We started with a beetroot soup with a rich vibrant colour and matching rich vibrant flavour from added coconut and ginger – I wish I could make soups this good at home!
This was accompanied by a cross between a spring roll and a samosa with a spiced chickpea filling enclosed by rice paper and lightly fried til crispy. This wasn’t on the menu yet – but we all agreed it would be a welcome addition – this and a couple scoops of salad would make the perfect lunch or light supper.
From there the food kept coming. The next plate arrived to “oohs” and “aahs” – a generous sample of 3 different wraps. There was an explosion of taste, texture and colour with the ‘Zesty’ avocado, lemon and sauerkraut wrap; the Mediterranean inspired ‘Tuscan’ bean wrap and the all raw ‘Nori’ wrap filled with grated beetroot, carrots, cucumber in a fragrant miso dressing.
Giant bowls of 2 salads accompanied the wraps; one with quinoa, kale and pomegranate and the other with lentils, cabbage and sweet potato.
We were eating more like kings than like rabbits. It was all delicious, fresh, full of flavour and texture and very, very filling. So satisfying that none of us missed the meat. This is fast food as it should be. Prepared salads are quick to serve up, easy to eat, even on the go. The wraps were tightly rolled and rewrapped in brown paper – making them super portable –with no messy drips on your work clothes if you’ve popped in for your lunch break. Food like this makes getting your 5 a day (and then some), effortless.
We couldn’t leave with sampling the waffles; although, they were so tasty, light and crispy on the outside, moist on the inside that we did have to remind ourselves that these were vegan AND gluten free! Of course, it didn’t hurt that they were topped with bananas, nuts and a gloriously rich chocolate sauce.
The generosity was unrelenting with a continuous flow of mineral water, kombucha, a huge selection of coffee and herbal teas, and flavoured Scandinavian birch water (look it up – it cures EVERYTHING).
Throughout the meal, it was the taste and textures that hit us first – for a moment, we forgot that it was all healthy – until we went for a second helping and realised we didn’t have to feel guilty and that’s when we realised – healthy eating, when done well, is DELICIOUS! This feel good food created a feel good atmosphere – where we could revel in all the delights with no guilt or feelings of gluttony. Isn’t that what we all want – great tasting, satisfying food that doesn’t make you feel guilty? And instead, you feel better mentally and physically.
Chatting with Moon & Hare it was clear that was their inspiration and goal as well. Shannon likes to eat ‘clean’ as much as possible at home, and has taught her children to read labels and to recognize the difference between ‘everyday food’ – food that nourishes your body, and ‘occasional food’ – food that is eaten just for pleasure. I really love that she didn’t teach them ‘good’ food and ‘bad’ food; that might glorify the bad stuff and make it more desirable. I think this is a lesson we all need to learn – I’ll definitely start classifying my food this way from now on!! Although, after sampling most of their menu, I am happy to report that Moon & Hare create everyday food that gives plenty of pleasure at the same time.
The people of Bruntsfield are so lucky to have the addition of Moon & Hare to their eclectic mix of independent shops and cafes – I may need to start hunting for a flat in the area. And, if you like the food and want to eat better at home, the shop at the back has a great selection of natural products, teas, raw chocolates, and birch water to buy and take away.
So a big thanks to Yelp for coming up with events that showcase a wide variety of businesses – big and small. And a huge thanks to Moon & Hare for putting together an amazing spread out of their tiny counter space. So nice to get to know you, find out your inspiration and be part of your goal to make healthy eating fun, fast, accessible and most importantly – SUPER TASTY!!