“Healthy eco-friendly vegetarian cooking is close to my heart and that’s where I feel at home”, says Edna Yeffet of Edna’s Kitchen on her website. The Israeli-born chef moved to the UK back in the early 1980s, but found the food quite boring. Her adventures in Middle Eastern food in Bristol began with selling authentic dips to health food shops (she has the claim to fame of being the first person to sell hummus in Bristol!) and, more recently, continued with running the cafe at St Stephen’s Church until 2012. She now runs Edna’s Kitchen as an independent business, offering vegetarian food as a caterer, and also as a lunch spot from her kiosk in Castle Park.
The kiosk is a tiny place, with two chiller cabinets, a fryer for the falafels, a tiny hob for soups, a coffee machine and not a huge amount more. It’s enough space, however, for Edna to turn out fantastically fresh food for the lunchtime trade, from 10am to 5pm every day of the week.
It’s great to see Edna using local suppliers, with Clifton Coffee and the Abu Noor bakery both pride of place behind the counter. Soft drink options come from Feel Good Drinks and Fentimans, while customers can choose fresh mint tea, a chai latte or an Arabic spiced coffee in addition to the standard hot drink selection.
Edna’s Kitchen was busy at 2pm on the Tuesday of my visit, with a queue of 5 people ahead of me: it’s obviously a popular choice for those working in the area. The smells coming from the kitchen were fantastic, and the menu offered a range of options from the well-known to the less common.
I could have gone for the soup of the day (tomato and red pepper with sweet potato and spelt), and the sweet treats were, on the day of my visit, the choice between a chocolate brownie, carrot cake or an intriguing sounding spelt, fig, date and nut slice. And as tempting as the halloumi wrap was (I have a slight halloumi addiction, blame the Cypriot heritage…), I had heard amazing things about Edna’s falafels, and was determined to try them for myself.
My large Mezze Salad Box (£5.95) was filled with a plethora of treats, and was certainly a satisfying lunch. The five falafels were all beautifully crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and filled with plenty of fresh herbs which gave not only flavour, but a lovely green colour. If I’m honest, these have now overtaken Eat A Pitta’s offering as my favourite falafels in Bristol!
There were served with a generous dollop of hummus, pureed but still with a decent amount of texture, and with plenty of garlic and tahini. Chunks of tomato and cucumber, along with the shredded cabbage and carrot salad, gave a lovely freshness to my lunch, and the slightly sweet tabbouleh – again flecked with fresh herbs – was fantastic. The two plump stuffed vine leaves were lovely and lemony, the rice perfectly cooked, and I loved the heat of the Schoog: a Yemenite green chilli sauce with fresh herbs, garlic and spices that certainly packed a punch! The dish was scattered with a few slightly bitter green olives and drizzled with more tahini and a spicy and sweet red pepper sauce.
For £5.95, it was a generous portion, and one which certainly filled me up. And not only a generous portion, but a healthy one too: perfect for those starting New Year’s diets. As I paid for my lunch, I was given an Edna’s Kitchen loyalty card, entitling me to my 10th meal free of charge. In all honesty, I don’t think it will be too long before that loyalty card is full. Highly recommended.