I’ve lived in London now for almost 7 years and having been vegan for 3 of those I’ve discovered my fair share of tantalising vegan and vegetarian food jaunts. The one, however, that I resisted going to for such a long time was Tibits; a very well-known veggie haven amongst plant-based peeps in the know. Somewhere in my past I developed an irrational fear of buffet dining (ok, it was the $4 Chinese buffet in an inner-city Melbourne basement) and even though I had heard good things, the fear held tight! It’s for this reason that I am thrilled to report that this lovely establishment on Heddon Street (right off Regent) has well and truly reversed my negative opinion of the humble buffet.
Apologies now for the phone pictures, I didn’t have the beastly Nikon with me!
On a bright and cold night in December, there is really nothing like walking down Regent Street, with its glory on display lit up in warm Christmas lights and the hum and buzz of excited tourists and reckless locals clambering around with their arms overflowing with shopping bags. Turn off onto Heddon Street, away from the frenzy, and you enter into a little culinary oasis with a number of impressive-looking eateries. Here you find Tibits with a welcoming facade of large windows and low lighting. The outdoor seating area too would provide diners with a perfect setting for lunch or dinner in slightly warmer months! On entering, we were met with a very friendly waiter who showed us to our table, within view of the sumptuous ‘food boat’ (a fancier ring to it than buffet!). He explained that once you serve yourself from the array of dishes, you take your plate to the bar, order drinks, pay up and you’re good to go. (Cost is by weight).
So away we went, first rounding the boat to excite the senses before grabbing a plate and stocking up. My plate was loaded with: tofu and tomato pasta salad, potato wedges, onion rings, falafel, avocado and tomato salad, panzanella, beet hummus, baba ganoush, carrot salad, roasted fennel, green beans and fresh bread – and that was only round one!
Everything was freshly prepared and there was no sign of that dreaded out-of-date looking produce or dried edges that sometimes accompanies a buffet. The wedges were perfectly crispy and seasoned (and heavenly when dipped in the beet hummus can I suggest!); the pasta salad was moorish as was the creamy avocado salad. The fattiness of the onion rings and falafel were offset by the crisp carrot salad and fresh green beans that were wonderfully mixed in a not-too-salty dressing.
The food boat is also loaded with a variety of sauces, condiments for salads, dips and fresh bread; all of which found an accompanying main or salad on my plate to cosy up to! Although the salads were delightful, it would have been nice on such a cold evening to have a few more hot dishes, but as the lovely manager informed me, each day the menu can change and so this may just be another reason for me to return and sample some more delicious cuisine!
The restaurant itself has a warm and exotic atmosphere, with a well-designed interior and furniture. I was thankful for the comfortable setting as we were there for over an hour gorging ourselves on all Tibits had to offer; which, I should not forget to mention, included a pint of Freedom organic lager during and a cup of green tea for after – what can I say, there was an eclectic theme to the evening! Both I and my partner had a great time and with the news that they now have VEGAN days at the restaurant (where everything on the boat is animal product-free; next one is 15 December) I will certainly be returning and will in fact become a regular no doubt, as they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner – all with the option to take-away also.
I strongly suggest to all my London/UK readers, next time you are having a bit of a shopping spree down Oxford or Regent street, that you rest those tired feet and calm those grumbling tummies with a stop in at Tibits – the cuisine, whilst being delicious and (mostly) plant-based, is the perfect refuel food for getting back out there and tackling the high street. And for those international readers, perhaps travelling here, put Tibits on the to-do list; your taste buds and bellies will thank you.