12-14 Heddon Street London W1B 4DA
Located just off London’s Regent Street, tibits is one of the many vibrant bars and restaurants in lively, pedestrianized Heddon Street. The restaurant is part of a chain (made up of five tibits eateries in Switzerland plus the London branch) and the best thing about it is that it’s 100% vegetarian!
The tibits dining experience goes something like this: After being greeted by the friendly staff who explain the set up, you’re shown to a table and then in your own time you can wander round the large “buffet boat” towards the front of the restaurant, selecting what you want and piling it up on your plate. You can take a complimentary bread roll, then go up to the till where your plate is weighed (current price is £2.30 for 100g at dinner). You can also purchase drinks such as organic lager and cider, cocktails, wine, teas and freshly squeezed fruit juices. There’s a tap at the side where you can help yourself to cold water.
With dishes ranging from Lebanese Lentil Hotpot to Asian Glass Noodle Salad, and Frittata with Spring Vegetables to Chilli Sin Carne, the secret is not to take too much of any one thing – just select a small spoon of the dishes which take your fancy, unless you want to be doing extra sit ups for the next few weeks! It’s certainly not that the food is unhealthy – to the contrary, it’s one of the freshest, colourful and healthy buffets I’ve been to – it’s just that the choice is huge.
As a vegan I often get asked “What do you eat?” and it’s at times like these I wish I could be instantly transported to tibits along with the enquirer, to show them how much variation a vegan diet can offer! In fact approximately 75% of the dishes are vegan (and clearly labelled too), much more than when the restaurant opened in 2008. “tibits is reactive to customers’ needs” explains duty manager Lidija, who is clearly passionate about the tibits concept.
tibits has avoided going down the route of offering faux meats, so for vegetarians who aren’t keen on anything which vaguely resembles flesh, it’s a must! My favourite dish, of the many I sample, is the Mung Bean Hotpot, deliciously flavoured with smoked tofu, carrot and parsnip.
On the evening of my visit, the restaurant is accommodating approximately 50 people, of varying ages – I’d guess mid-twenties to late-sixties. There’s a definite buzz to the place with contemporary decor and colourful cushions, candles on the tables and modern chill out lounge music. It’s a venue suitable for a first date or a quick lunchtime stop, a business meeting or a birthday meal. You can even bring children as there’s a crèche area downstairs.
tibits is not one of those “eat-as-much-as-you-like-for-a-fiver” type budget buffets. A full plate of food plus dessert, with wine, can easily set you back around £25 per person. But the quality and huge variety of food is worth the cost.
Founders Reto, Christian and Daniel Frei, and their business partners Rolf and Marielle Hiltl of Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe, had a vision to create a high-class, fast food restaurant where people could enjoy tasty vegetarian food in relaxed surroundings. They have most definitely realised this vision with tibits.