Friday, 26 July 2013

Dining at tibits Vegetarian Restaurant London

A few months ago, I reviewed a cook book written by tibits Restaurant team showcasing some of their most popular recipes.  Endeared with the book as I was, I placed tibits on my 'must go to' list and so I was then delighted when my husband and I were offered the opportunity to visit the restaurant and dine there.

Outside Patio Area - tibits

Situated in a little hub of restaurants known as the 'Food Quarter' on Heddon Street off Regents Street, its location is perfect for central London with Piccadilly Circus only being a few minutes’ walk away. 

Exterior of tibits

Upon arrival, we were met by Duty Manager Lidija who introduced us to the rest of the team before commencing a tour around the restaurant and an explanation of the ethos behind tibits.

tibits Restaurants were originally launched as a family business over 10 years ago in Switzerland by three brothers, Reto, Christian and Daniel Frei, together with Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, of Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, established  in 1898 (according to the Guinness Book of Records).  In London, tibits has been opened for over 4½ years with plans in the pipeline to expand across the capital and potentially in time across the UK.

The restaurant's ethos is very much about casual dining, ensuring that diners can relax in informal surroundings.   Although a fast paced environment, customers are encouraged to take their time and are never hurried out. 

Chandelier Ceiling

The decor is contemporary with seating styles a mixture of raffia/wooden chairs and sofa couches.   Bold printed, floral wallpaper complements the souk-style chandelier lighting.  The large paned windows provide perfect views of the outdoor shaded patio seating area as well giving you ample natural light and the opportunity to people watch!  The relaxed dress code is most welcomed because if you're doing the tourist trail or simply popping by for a whistle-stop visit, a change into smarter clothes isn't always practical so tibits is perfect for these occasions.

Interior seating areas - tibits

The staircase by the bar leads you to the airy, light downstairs area where there is more casual seating available.  Artwork adorns the walls, including a gorgeous painting we fell in love which was painted by a Swiss artist called Freda.  This is also where parties of 8+ are accommodated and where events are held.  

Downstairs Area

Swiss Art by Freda

It also provides a haven for families with the mini 'Kids Corner' in sight, containing amusements for entertaining children with and the area also provides privacy for nursing mothers.   The restaurant's child friendly approach extends from tibits' policy in Switzerland where it is paramount.

As described above, the style of dining differs from the usual restaurant drill and again echoes their mantra of achieving a relaxed ambience.  Once shown to your seat, you are then free to visit the Food Boat at your leisure to begin selecting your food.

Food Boat

The 'Food Boat' is the focal point of the restaurant, located in the centre, hosting over 40 hot and cold dishes including desserts.  There is also a soup of the day (which was Beetroot & Caraway Seed when we visited) and all meals come with a complementary bread roll.  The dishes are on a rotation system which means that if you visit regularly, you will be able to experience a wide range of dishes over the course of time.  tibits also observe seasonal cooking so everything you see will be specific to the current season.

Bread Baskets
Soup Station

Differing from standard 'all you can eat buffets', at tibits you only pay for you choose.  This concept is particularly good for those that want to control the amounts they eat or who wish to choose a mixture of things rather than having to buy individual portions.  Costings are regulated by weight rather than per meal/course.  So the heavier the items on the plate, the more you pay - eg: a plate of pasta, potatoes etc would cost more than a plate of salad. 

The costs are: 
Breakfast - £1.70 per 100g
Lunch - £2.20 per 100g
Dinner (6pm onwards) - £2.50 per 100g

You can of course get your food weighed at the till as many times as you wish to ensure that you only spend what you want.

A suggestion would be to get all your cold items first and then select your hot items to ensure your meal remains warm.  If you're planning to have more than one plate, it would be worth opening up a tab at the till so you only have to pay once before you leave.

More Dishes from the Food Boat

The dishes on the Food Boat during our visit were:  Chilli Sin Carne, Gnocchetti alla Mediterrana, Indian Dhal, Aubergines, Power Green vegetables, as well as cold salads and their signature dried green bean salad (which was my absolute favourite).  So much so, I am hoping to re-create the dish at home for myself!  The beans were beautifully dressed with scattered walnuts and were promoted as a 'concentration booster'.  Look out for a future blog post about it!

Dishes from the Food Boat

Each dish has a name plaque against it which contains a description and main ingredient list.  There are also abbreviations listed to help those on a specific diet.  Of course everything is vegetarian, but V = Vegan, L = contains Dairy G = contains Gluten etc. 

To maximise the tasting opportunity, I had morsels of nearly all the dishes.  I had:  houmous, olives, falafel, pasta, Indian Dhal, Power Greens, broccoli, roasted parsnips/carrots, Lebanese Tabouli Salad, Gnocchetti alla Mediterrana (made with courgettes, capers and kalamata olives) and chilli sin carne (meaning chilli without meat - soya mince with tomatoes and kidney beans).  My husband had: chilli sin carne, guacamole, jacket wedges, Indian Rice and salad.  My dish came to approx: £10 and my husband's dish to approx. £12. 

My Husband's Meal

My Meal

Everything that we both had was delicious, packed with taste and flavour.  My husband was totally enthused with the chilli sin carne commenting on how it had been seasoned perfectly and as a daily meat-eater, the whole meal hadn't made him miss meat at all!  I couldn't resist an extra portion of the Gnocchetti covered with the dried green beans - the two items worked so well together.

For dessert we both went for a favourite of ours which was tiramisu.  Made on site, the sponge was deliciously drowned with strong coffee and the cream was freshly whipped - we could've easily gone back for seconds or thirds!

Dessert Section of the Food Boat

There are a mixture of soft drinks, smoothies, juices and alcoholic cocktails available at the bar.  We opted for the Lemonade (which was made from passion fruit syrup, lemons and sparkling water), Ginger Carrot Apple Juice (which included those ingredients plus lemon and fennel) and also Fitness Juice (made from apple, fennel and lemon).  The lemonade was particularly welcoming for the hot weather and acted as a palette cleanser as well.  The juices were really tasty, I was curious how they would taste with fennel, but it balanced well with its fruit counterparts and of course the added benefit of them being packed with vitamins was a great bonus!   

Ginger Carrot Apple Juice
Lemonade with tibits 'I Love You' Reward Card

Fitness Juice

In addition to dining-in, tibits also offer a take-away service for those in a hurry.  Costs are cheaper than dining-in and also include the provision of small or large containers plus lids and cutlery.
Takeaway costs:
Breakfast - £1.40 per 100g
Lunch & Dinner - £1.70 per 100g 

In addition, the Bar serves at least 4 types of sandwiches for takeaway (inc vegan options), plus crisps and pastries.  There is also the opportunity to buy their recipe books if you want to recreate the tibits experience at home.

tibits Cook Books For Sale

tibits Ice Cream Cart

The customer base is varied and somewhat eclectic ranging from city office workers conducting informal meetings/interviews, theatre goers seeking a quick dinner, tourists looking for hearty fare, through to celebrity clientele - you can find everyone here proving its mass appeal.

Their success can of course be attributed to their excellent food, location and ambience but the one thing that is key and of continued focus is their dedication to customer service.  They are very keen to receive feedback and to act upon it always ensuring that the restaurant is geared towards the customers' preferences.  For instance, there was repeated feedback for more vegan dishes which they have listened to and now the restaurant provides more vegan dishes than previously with more planned in the future.

They commend loyalty by running a Reward Card scheme whereby you get a free drink after every 6 meals purchased which is a token of their appreciation for custom.

It's not just the customers that love the concept of tibits, Head Chef Brian stated:
"I've worked as Head Chef at tibits for almost 5 years and, although I'm not a vegetarian myself, I love working with the huge range of delicious, fresh ingredients we use to create new and exciting dishes for our customers. We change our menu seasonally, which also includes dishes that are influenced by cuisines from around the world, including Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and the best of British. On our unique 'food boat', we offer over 40 healthy but satisfying hot dishes, salads, soups, desserts, smoothies, cocktails, wines and beers - so come on in and try us out!"

tibits is absolutely perfect and can morph into any occasion you want it to.  For a quick lunch, grabbing a take-away en route from work or for drinks with friends in the evening.  In Lidija's words, "We like to wave each customer off with a smile" and I can vouch that they do and to quote their mantra about tibits it’s: "Food that loves you back”.  Indeed it does, guaranteeing that we ourselves will be back.  And soon.


tibits Restaurant
12-14 Heddon Street (Off Regents Street)
Sunday-Wednesday 10:30pm closing time. Thursday - Saturday 11:30pm closing time.


Other Links

To read my review of 'tibits at home' cook book, click on this link.


Disclosure:  This post was written following a kind invitation from tibits Restaurant London to  experience their menu.   This review was conducted with honesty, without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.

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