King of the veggie/ vegan buffet
Tibits, 12-14 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA (0207 758 4112). Two-course meal for two, including drinks: £46
If you’re walking down Regent Street and realise you haven’t breathed normally in several minutes in an effort to dodge everyone, take a diversion down Heddon Street. It’s the type of street that Muggles don’t notice – you wouldn’t know there was anything to discover unless you were looking for it.
Suddenly you’re in a leafy enclave of restaurants, with strings of lightbulbs overhead. On a half-hot September day you can eat outside and forget about the bustle.
Tibits is king of vegetarian and vegan buffet. The food is so appealing because 1) it’s instant, just like Yo Sushi and 2) the quality and variety is excellent.
When I went on a Sunday lunchtime, there was a pleasant chattery thrum oozing out of the open windows. An oval table in the centre of the restaurant is filled with hot plates and salad dishes.
You pay by weight (£25/kg). So I set about filling up my plate with a little bit of everything…
- gnocchi verde
- beer battered onion rings
- carrot salad
- vegetable tartare
- orecchiette pasta salad with tofu, olives and sundried tomato
- houmous and za’atar
- okra tempura
- dried bean salad with a walnut coriander dressing (wait for it, this was unbelievably the best part)
The gnocchi was a little overcooked and starchy but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to carry on eating it for the rest of the day. It comes in a creamy sauce with spinach, leek and basil, which was heaven. The onion rings were sweet and juicy and dangerously addictive. The carrot salad was not naked and sidelined but has its own secret recipe dressing.
Veg tartare had an odd carroty flavour but the tomatoey orecchiette salad was better. The houmous was one of the best ones I’ve had. Tempura okra was great, if you like okra.
But hold on. The best bit, incredibly, was the dried string bean salad. Nope, I’ve never heard of dried string beans either. They don’t look particularly special but the texture was so good and rubbery in a really, really good way? The garlic, walnut, coriander, onion, balsamic sauce – just yes.
The recipe is actually online here. Thank you Tibits.
… and that’s not all.
Vegan pudding. I know what you’re thinking. But oh my, the chocolate molten pudding AND sticky toffee pudding made me all fuzzy inside. They were squidgy and gooey and cakey and datey and saucy. I actually wrote down the word ‘PHENOM’ in my notebook.
I had them with a vegan mocha cream, which was thick, delicious and what a hippy Nigella Lawson would adore.
So now you know about Tibits, don’t be a Muggle.