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Nice and peace-y does it; Magical vegetarian option proves a revelation for self-confessed meat freak.

Istill don't know how I managed it but, a couple of weeks back, you may recall I went teetotal for an hour or so thanks to the otherwise excellent Cafe Salma's strict no alcohol policy.

Well, folks, I really surpassed myself at this week's restaurant by ordering - wait for it - a vegetarian dish.

I might be wrong, but I'm sure even our waiter raised an eyebrow.

So, how the hell did that happen? Well, I can only imagine it must be something in the Edinburgh air as the last time I ate like a hippy (as opposed to eating like a hippo) was at David Bann's - a strict veggie joint - way back in 2000.

If memory serves, it was actually very good. No, really. Although I must admit that, as a wee precautionary measure, I had a quarter of gammon tucked down my sock.

Anyway. I sampled my second vegetarian dish in 12 years at The Olive Branch Bistro in Broughton Street. It is next door to the legendary butcher Crombie's (if you like sausages, you'll love this place).

We popped in for lunch, which, I'm delighted to report, is available from noon to 5pm seven days a week.

The Olive Branch homemade burger had been recommended by a reader (Elaine from Kirkcaldy) and, sure enough, the big 8oz meaty affair that I watched winging its way to another table looked great. In fact, a return visit is a must.

However, I don't know if I can blame it on the two glasses of excellent house red I gulped down while perusing the interesting little menu, but I shocked my dining companion Stuart by plumping for the root vegetable and puy lentil hot-pot.

Yep, I'll repeat that - the root vegetable and lentil hot-pot.

Pass the sandals and I'll give you a quick chorus of Mr Tambourine Man. But you know what, folks? It was magic.

Really, really tasty. And, who knows, I might just have been converted. Peace, man.

Now, to be honest, I don't actually know what vegetables were in the dish. Haven't got a Scooby.

Don't forget, my typical 'five-a-day' consists of chips, a strawberry tart, a Terry's chocolate orange, a toffee apple and a slab of carrot cake - but it worked a treat.

And maybe my favourite bit of this dish was the Mull cheddar croutons sprinkled on top.

They were like little roasted cheese bites and I'd urge the gaffer at The Olive Branch Bistro to put them on the menu as a side order.

You know it makes sense. Talking of side orders, the only disappointing aspect of my main course was that our server forgot all about my handcut chips.

Ach, never mind, I'll give them a bash when I go back for my burger.

Meanwhile, before I forget, my starter was also well worth raving about. Three big, plump, juicy scallops with a disc of Stornoway black pudding and a delicious cauliflower puree. A snip (as those of you who enjoy a scallop will surely agree) at pounds 6.25.

Across the table, my mate Stuart was also a happy chappy.

The steamed mussels, with lots of smoky shards of bacon and a nice white wine sauce infused with saffron, were pretty much faultless.

And his main course was a real winner. Stuart's usually a breast or leg man (whether we're talking chicken or chicks) but the chargrilled thigh in a spicy Moroccan-style lentil and harissa broth got a big thumbs up.

Dessert? Stuart enjoyed a hearty portion of Luvian's ice-cream (the same quality gear I lapped up at Cafe Kisa in Auchterarder).

Three scoops of mint choc chip, vanilla and honeycomb. "Tell your readers to make sure they leave plenty of room for a bowl of this stuff," he said. Consider it done. My chocolate tart with clotted cream ice-cream (check your life insurance before ordering this one, folks) wasn't as good. The dense, rich chocolate on top was fine (not a million miles from Nutella) but the soggy, spongy pastry was disappointing.

It really needed to be crisp and biscuity.

And the clotted cream ice-cream? Well, if you'd told me it was plain old vanilla, I'd have believed you. Surely this wasn't Luvian's? Overall, though, an excellent lunch in a nice wee friendly bistro.

The toilets were pretty nice as well - spotlessly clean with lots of hand soap, paper towels and, just in case you follow my lead and try the veggie hot-pot, a can of lavender air freshener.

THE OLIVE BRANCH BISTRO 91 BROUGHTON STREET, EDINBURGH, EH1 3RX Address: 91 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3RX Telephone: 0131 557 8589 Open: All day seven days. Wheelchair access: No. Bill: for two (with wine): pounds 62. Food: 4/5 - interesting dishes, all freshly cooked.

Toilets: 4/5 - fine. Value: 4/5 - pretty decent for Edinburgh. THE OLIVE BRANCH BISTRO TOTAL 20/25 Service: 4/5 - point docked for forgetting my chips! Decor: 4/5 - nice, comfortable interior.

Tam's hot plate leaders ? THE OLD LOANS INN 31-33 Main Street, Loans, Troon KA10 7EX 25/25 ? THE CORINTHIAN 191 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 1DA 24/25 ? THE LIMELIGHT BAR AND GRILL 75 Waterloo Street, Glasgow G2 7DA 24/25 ? SCOTTS BAR & RESTAURANT Largs Yacht Haven, Irvine Road, Largs KA30 8EZ 24/25 ? EE-USK North Pier, Oban PA34 5QD 23/25 ? THE WEE RESTAURANT 17 Main Street, North Queensferry KY11 1JG 23/25 ?AMARONE 3 St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AF 22/25 ? ARISAIG 1 Merchant Square, Glasgow G1 1LE 22/25 AYR SPICE 22 Ayr Road, Minishant KA19 8EX 22/2? CAFE KISA 128 High Street, Auchterarder, PH3 1AA 22/25 ? ROCPOOL 1 Ness Walk, Inverness IV3 5NE 22/25 ? BLUE CHILLI 17 Gateshead Street, Hamilton ML3 7HT 21/25 ? CAFE SALMA 523 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G3 7PQ 21/25 ? THE FINNIESTON RESTAURANT 1125 Argyle Street, Glasgow G3 8ND 17/25 ? KAMPUNG ALI 97-101 Fountainbridge, Edinburgh EH3 9QG 17/25 ? THE ADAMS LOUNGE Moffat House Hotel, High Street, Moffat DG10 9HL 15/25 ? PREZZO 35-37 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2ER 14/25 ? CIAO SORRENTO 19 Union Street, Dundee DD1 4BN 13/25
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Restaurant review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 3, 2012
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