You’re in central London, tired and hungry. Where do you eat?
You know all the chains and coffee bars around Oxford Circus tube station, but you don’t really feel like that. This is why I am really happy that my friend F took me to a side street to Tibits, which is part of the Regent Street Food Quarter (I know, I had never heard of this area either, but it seems it has been going for a year and a bit now). This place is vegetarian (yay!), and this fact together with its location was enough to get me through the door.
A bit of digging reveals that this a Swiss concept, from the people behind Hiltl in Zurich, one of Europe’s oldest vegetarian restaurants. There is a selection of dishes from a range of cultures, served buffet-style, and the interior has a fresh, funky and bright interior thanks to the work of the Design Guild. So what does all this mean? Yes, it is veggie, but it does not scream this at you, so even carnivores will be happy to chow down in here, and it has a funky, relaxed vibe which is welcome when you realise you are just a couple of minutes from one of Europe’s busiest streets. All this, and the staff are friendly, helpful and efficient.
I really liked the feel of this place. There is a bar area if you are in a prop-yourself-up-with-a-drink mood, tables to sit at for a chat and to plan your sightseeing escapades, and a lot of outdoor seating in a pedestrianised area for when the weather finally gets warm. So much nicer than sitting on a street with buses whizzing past. What was also nice is that it is huge – there is lots of space, and lots of natural light. This might not seem like a big deal, but I really do not like to go somewhere during the day and sit in a bunker. We don’t get that much sun here, so it seems a shame to hide from it. A calm but buzzing atmosphere, rather than busy and hectic.
Tibits has a great selection of fresh juices and smoothies, with a range of food from around the globe in the buffet section – hot dishes, salads, nibbles, bread and fruit. We arrived around 5pm, so went for a glass of Pimm’s and lemonade and made up an ad hoc aperitivo platter from what was on offer. The food was clearly fresh (new platters were coming out with a pleasing regularity while we were there), and there was a nice balance of salads based on healthy lentils, quinoa and cous cous. In our little selection, the marinated mushrooms, cooked aubergine cubes and falafel were all excellent. Fresh and delicious, with judicious use of olive oil. If I have one niggle, it was that I took a few potato wedges, but these were not really that great – I like mine hot and super-crispy, and these weren’t. I think this was a sign that I should stick to the more traditional looking tapas-style efforts or explore the lush-looking salads. Perhaps I should have had the okra in tomato sauce, tofu blocks with dipping sauce or bean and walnut salad? I think those will be for next time, as I will surely be going back.
I would really recommend Tibits – a welcoming, chilled place in this part of time is a welcome discovery, particularly one with a veggie focus. You’ll probably even be able to get a meat water to come here with you!