I have the week off work this week (amazing, I know!) so as a lady of leisure, I decided to join my friend Matt in town during his lunch break.
We’ve recently been making a list of all the vegetarian and vegan restaurants around London that we want to visit and tibits is one that seems to keep popping up. It’s close to Matt’s work and as it’s a buffet-style restaurant, much quicker than sit-down table service, it fit the lunch break bill.
I’ll be honest, buffets normally freak me out a little. They seem a little… cheap and nasty. But when I realised that the main reasons for these thoughts stemmed from visions of Chinese buffets where trays of greasy food sit around for hours, just waiting for salmonella to jump on board and the idea of cross-contamination from bits of meat dropped by careless tong users into the veggie dishes, I decided that a mostly cold, strictly vegetarian buffet didn’t sound too bad after all. In fact, for the world’s most indecisive person, a vast array of dishes, all of which I can actually eat and that I can pile up to my heart’s content seemed a little like heaven!
Tucked away on pedestrianised street in Central London, tibits was buzzing when we walked in at around 1.30pm on a rainy afternoon. They don’t take reservations and it’s a ‘seat yourself’ kind of place but we were informed by a member of staff that the upstairs area was full and we’d have to eat downstairs. This suited us fine and we headed down to an almost empty room to take our choice of seats (a cosy corner table)… and then back up to get our food!
I wish I had been able to take a photo of the ‘food boat’ to give you the full idea but in the middle of a busy restaurant, it just seems well, kind of rude and awkward to say the least. Check out their website for the full idea!
For lunch, there are almost 40 fresh salads, hot dishes, and snacks to choose from with the cold dishes stored on ice and the hot dishes stored on heated trays above, so nothing looks or tastes stale or soggy or old as can often be the fate of buffet food. Apparently around 80% of the dishes are vegan, though judging by what I chose (to my knowledge, an entirely vegan plate), I would have guessed more! The dishes on the food boat were bright and fresh-looking (in fact, the falafel and a salad came out as we were loading up) and seemed an en entire world away from the aforementioned brown-themed, gungy Chinese buffets.
You pay for food by weight, rather than per dish (£2.20/100g at lunch and £2.50/100g at dinner), so although I tried to just take ‘a little of this’ and ‘a little of that’, my plate still piled up pretty quickly! Matt and I both spent around £14 for our meal and a drink. A tad more than I would normally spend on lunch but hey, it was a treat!
Many of the dishes have an Asian or Mediterranean influence and I’d love to be able to tell you everything I chose but there were so just so many options! Here’s what I remember: chilli tofu & cucumber salad, Asian glass noodle salad, wild rice, Indian dhal, aubergine (something), rosemary potatoes, falafel, and mango & apple chutney. I had mine with a delicious apple and carrot juice. I wish we’d realised you get free bread rolls with your meal but being in a rush, we didn’t read the small print! Dammit! We still fared pretty well:
I would definitely go back to tibits but probably for dinner because to get a decent meal, you end up paying more than I would normally like to for lunch. That said, you’d pay the same at a nice pub or fancy café and wouldn’t get the huge selection we did!
The food is incredibly fresh and served on a well-presented buffet and the range of dishes is fantastic. Just don’t get too excited or you may end up paying a fortune!
tibits is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (hours vary per day) with takeaway available as well.
12-14 Heddon Street (off Regent Street), London W1B 4DA