London / Restaurant Reviews

Vegetarian Dinner at Tibits, Piccadilly Circus, London

Tibits is tucked down Heddon Street just away from the bustling crowds of Regent Street. The restaurant describes itself as a ‘Vegetarian Paradise’, a big claim considering the rise of Vegetarian cooking in recent times. I love this sort of  food particularly Ottolenghi’s sweet potato and maple salad, and establishments such as Food for Thought in Covent Garden, and The Prince George in Brighton.

Not only is Tibits totally meat free, but it delivers its dishes in a totally unique way. The restaurant does everything in its power to avoid calling itself a buffet; the entire sleek and tastefully lit dining room is centred around a food boat from which you help yourself to a variety of dishes spanning Asian, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines. The idea is simple, you fill your plate, take it to the bar, put it on some scales and pay for it based on it’s weight (£2.20 per 100g at dinner, less at lunch). At the same time, you can order drinks (cocktails, beers and wines) to collect from the bar, there’s no table service. To start we tried two cocktails, a tasty, unique and refeshing apple and cucumber mojito, and a disappointingly pink and sugary whisky based Ice Tea. The disparity between the two was an omen of things to come…

There were three components to the boat; hot dishes under heat lamps, cold salads & dips, and a smaller selection of puddings. There were some truly great dishes in the mix: the red pepper humous was sweet and well spiced and went great with the mouthfuls of warm crisp and soft falafel, the dried bean salad (above left) was moreish with crunchy walnuts and a coriander heavy dressing, my boyfriend could have eaten the spicy and creamy stuffed jalapeno’s all day (above right), and the squash salad was delicately flavoured with warming curried spices.

The other hot dishes were a little underwhelming. The sweet potato curry was slightly undercooked, the ratatouille was underseasoned and unexciting, and some of the other hot bites rest were very pastry heavy; mini pizzas and pies are great for snacking but less ideal for a sit down dinner. More crucially we sometimes struggled to build complete plates of food, with so much to choose from we had to think carefully about what we were selecting to avoid ending up mismatched plate like the ‘curried apple falafel coleslaw humous salad’ pictured above.

Tibits offers over 40 dishes and with so many options infront of you (and having no idea which are the gems and which are the duds) it can be tough to make a complimenting selection of foodstuffs. Guidance by the staff or in the information on the tables as to what elements of the food boat had been crafted to go with each other would have been very helpful.

On another note don’t bother with the desserts. Unlike the rest of the beautifully presented food they weren’t much to look at and more closely resembled school dinner puds than then other high-class savoury buffet dishes. Unsurprisingly they didn’t taste great either, bland cheesecake, a bizarrely textured sticky toffee pudding that was neither sticky nor toffee tasting and an oddly sweet and fruity tiramisu.

The dinner for two with two plates of savoury food each, a sharing taster of desserts and two cocktails plus glass of OJ came to £58, decent, but a little overpriced for the hit & miss nature of the savoury food & cocktails, not forgetting the totally unnecessary desserts. But there were plenty of saving graces, such as the slick operation of the food boat whereby dishes were almost never empty or messily presented (no mean feat when there were so many patrons helping themselves to the food), the buzzing atmosphere, the sleek, modern yet comfortable decor and all of the staff we saw and chatted to were quick, efficient and friendly.

Will I be back? Well… now I know which dishes are top-class and which are lacking I’ll probably stop by for a quick lunch plate, but unless the menu gets a shake-up I’ll not be there for dinner again.

Crumpeats was a guest of Tibits.

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