Afternoon tea. It’s one of those great British traditions. A towering cake stand filled to the brim with savoury sandwiches, sweet delights and scones served with lashings of jam and cream. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a decadent indulgence that can only be enjoyed by meat-eaters, but in fact there are lots of places in Edinburgh that have created their own version of vegan afternoon tea, all of which are even more tempting and delicious than their onmivore counterparts.
Read on to discover some of the best vegan afternoon teas you can get in Scotland’s capital…
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33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace, Edinburgh EH9 1SX
One of Edinburgh’s favourite vegan cafés has started serving afternoon tea! Filled to the brim with mouthwatering savouries and cakes, this is the perfect way to treat yourself.
The savoury layer contains smoked no-mackerel pâté and apple oatcakes, cucumber with garlic and chive cream cheese, pesto mayo, feta and roast sweet potato wrap, “egg” mayo and cress, pesto and sun-dried tomato vol-au-vent, and cheese and chilli jam toastie.
The top layer has an ever-changing selection of mini sweet treats, and of course don’t forget the scones served with jam and lashings of vegan cream! Available Tuesdays to Fridays only.
14 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PF
The Dome is a very old-fashioned, prestigious place so we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Georgian Tea Room has been serving vegan afternoon tea for quite some time.
Expect the usual plate of sandwiches as well as scones with cream and jam. The real star of the show, however, is the final sweet layer which groans under the weight of cakes by Naked Bakery that are pretty much full size. Expect bright strawberry sponges, zesty lemon tarts and wonderfully creamy mille-feuilles.
If this list had a dark horse award, The Dome would be the clear winner.
The Grand Café at The Scotsman
20 North Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1TR
The Grand Café is a spectacular dining room set in the former advertising trading halls of The Scotsman newspaper. Boasting a gorgeous interior that dates back to 1905, full of character and period features, this is the perfect place if you are looking for somewhere to impress.
Their standard fare consists of onmivore afternoon tea, breakfast, brunch, lunch and evening dining. Their vegan afternoon tea isn’t listed on the menu, but if you phone ahead with a couple of days’ notice the kitchen will be delighted to to whip up a cruelty-free feast for you.
As each vegan afternoon tea is made completely bespoke, it is unlikely you will get the exact same offering as listed above, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the standard of what to expect.
When I was there, they served me sandwiches filled with avocado, hummus and gazpacho tomato, alongside a lovely pomegranate salad. Sweets included a vegan meringue, a mochi style dumpling, a light lemon and blueberry cake and coconut yoghurt with pineapple. And of course, there was the layer of fluffy plain and fruit scones with a lovely homemade jam.
63 The Shore, Edinburgh EH6 6RA
227 St John’s Road, Edinburgh EH12 7XD
Mimi’s Bakehouse has a stellar reputation in Edinburgh for belly-busting cakes and bakes, so we were delighted when they announced they were adding a vegan afternoon tea to their offering. It is still quite new so you need to give at least 48 hours notice (just so they can get all the specialist ingredients in), and you may be asked for your credit card details to secure your booking.
A word of advice: Mimi’s are famous for their generous portions, so make sure you go to your afternoon tea HUNGRY.
The savoury layer consists of two different finger sandwiches and four balls of freshly warmed falafel. The sandwiches are filled with avocado and tomato, and hummus with roasted vegetables.
The vegan scones are small and cute, served with vegan butter and jam. They have a bit more of a flourish than your regular scones with fruit throughout, sweetly spiced and a little sprinkling of brown sugar on top. Finally, the sweet layer has a Snickers crunch bar, a slice of the lemon and raspberry loaf, and a chocolate Biscoff traybake.
As well as the vegan afternoon tea, Mimi’s Bakehouse have a range of vegan options on their menu and always have at least one or two vegan delights in their cake selection each day.
Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria The Caledonian
Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB
Afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria is the ultimate decadent treat – but did you know that Peacock Alley also caters for vegans? While it’s not hugely obvious on the website, if you call ahead and book in advance (just like the Grand Café) they can rustle up a vegan version of their afternoon tea.
Their regular and vegan afternoon tea offering changes seasonally, so while you might not get exactly what is pictured above, you are guaranteed a special experience in sumptuous surroundings.
The Gateway Restaurant at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NY
The Gateway Restaurant at the West Entrance of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has been doing afternoon tea for some time, but in the spring of 2020 they launched a completely vegan afternoon tea which showcases the best seasonal ingredients.
The flavours in the bottom savoury layer and the top sweet layer are absolutely incredible. For me, the mushroom and lentil pastry and the wonderfully stodgy ginger cake were the highlights. However, Mr B did get cow’s milk with his tea – the staff were quick to apologise and rectify, but there is clearly a training gap there. The scones were also really hard. These are hopefully just teething issues though, and it will get better as the afternoon tea becomes more established.
Where to find the best vegan afternoon tea in Edinburgh – Map
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