The restaurant: tibits, 12-14 Heddon St, Mayfair, London W1B 4DA
We need to eat less meat. It’s harmful to the environment and can be harmful to our bodies. That’s probably not news to you, but it’s something we all shiftily seem to be avoid talking about. As a meat-eater, I try to eat consciously by ordering meat in restaurants but limiting my consumption at home. Restaurants do it better than I do, and cooking with vegetables is often more interesting than throwing a meat dish together. I’m not sure how much difference it makes, but it helps relieve a little culpability of being a meat-eater. In this case, I don’t generally end up in vegetarian restaurants. I made an exception for tibits, reasoning that their 40 vegetarian and vegan dishes could inspire my own meat-free cooking.
tibits is a meat-free restaurant chain hailing from Switzerland, with two London locations – Heddon Street and Bankside. They’re on a mission to make vegetarian food more interesting and convince us carnivores that dining without meat can be a pleasant, interesting and healthy experience. tibits are welcoming the whole family for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s a kids’ corner downstairs to keep them occupied, but the real value of it is the buffet-style service. While many may turn their noses up at an all-you-can-eat place, tibits is different. Hear me out. The ‘food boat’, as they call it, is made up of hot and cold dishes: salads, soups, loaves, stews, etc. It’s a great way for the children to pick out what they fancy and for you to slip some new things on their plates to try. You pay for the plates by weight, which makes you conscious not to overload it, as not to pay for what you don’t eat (talk about portion control!).
On arrival, we’re informed to pick up a plate, look around at the dishes and then start dishing up for ourselves. There’s a variety of dishes from around the world, all produced from fresh and local ingredients where possible: we opt for Moroccan tagine, tomato tartare and okra tempura (the ladies’ fingers snack that took me back to Manchester favourite Bundobust). Autumn’s menu consists of warming pumpkin-chestnut soup, Seitan bourguignon, and Swiss Alpine macaroni. Most people in the restaurant already know the drill, making me feel the Heddon Street branch has its regulars — perhaps it’s already a hub for non meat-eaters. It’s nicely tucked away from Regent Street, making it a cool place to pop in between shopping.
You pay at the counter, which made me think of the Morrissons’ salad bar, but more upmarket. Here, you’re asked if you’d like a drink. There’s vegan prosecco, wines, beers and cocktails or fresh juices and coffees. We ordered a wine, but felt a juice would have been better since we were here to be healthy after all. The get-up-and-serve-yourself detracted from the fact tibits should work as a bar too.
Overall, there was a good balance between hot and cold, healthy and non-healthy food. It gives you option to load up on salad or opt for a heavier evening meal. I liked the concept of paying for the food by weight, as it made me order just the right amount. I’m left hoping to return for the autumn menu for some warming cooking inspiration. You can then discover the recipes on their website too. Brilliant.
There are currently two restaurants in London: the Heddon Street branch we visited and the Bankside branch.
To book, visit tibits.co.uk or call 020 7758 4110, drop-ins are fine too!
For more London restaurant inspiration, click here.