Ever since the 80s Ikea have been bringing Scandinavian practicality to the world of home furnishing and introduced our palettes to a whole new world of delicious yet questionably sourced meatballs. In 2008 the latest Swedish export arrived in London. Tibits, situated in the haven that is Heddon Street’s food quarter just a stone’s throw from busy Regent Street, is educating Londoners on the joys of vegetarian, seasonal non-GM food.
Tibits with its sleek front, elegant clientele and elaborate al fresco dining area wouldn’t look out of place on an LA street front. This is smart vegetarian cuisine, a world away from the hippy Camden cafes that have previously dominated the London vegetarian-dining scene. Upon arrival you are asked ‘have you been to Tibits before?’ a precursor to the unique dining experience it provides. Situated ceremoniously in the middle of the light and airy top floor of the restaurant is the ‘food boat’, a buffet table filled with over 40 vegetarian and vegan hot and cold dishes which diners serve themselves.
It would be inept to describe Tibits simply as a restaurant, it is an eclectic dining experience that hammers home to its visitors that healthy, ethical, seasonal food can be delicious and exciting. Its vast range of dishes include ‘seitan stew’ (a hearty ‘meaty’ dish loved by carnivores and vegetarians alike), the new edition to the autumn menu ‘pumpkin sesame salad’, the trademark ‘dried bean and walnut salad’ and the new homage to the restaurant’s Swedish routes the ‘Swedish kjoettbullar’ (Swedish meatballs). The choice between dishes can be overwhelming, especially as your meal is charged by weight. The moment when place your plate on the scales is a little anxiety inducing and rightly so, a full plate can cost £20 and if you’re prone to piling at buffets it can be extortionate. Nevertheless, the reason Tibits was named this year as the winner of Best Vegetarian Restaurant at the Cook Vegetarian Awards is that its food is flavoursome and diverse in a way that surpasses even competitors as illustrious as Primrose Hill celebrity haunt ‘Manna’ and unlike the over hyped ‘Mildred’s’ you can always get seated.
However, vegan dessert lovers may be met with a tinge of disappointment as the vegan sticky toffee pudding, (richer, stickier and sweeter than its vegetarian counterpart) is the only one truly worth forking out for. But on the all vegan days (usually scheduled 3 times a month) vegans call really fill their boots.
Following the Tibits dining experience most will be desperate to go back, in part to try the dishes that would have broken the bank the first time round. But keen cooks needn’t bother, the restaurant is scattered with recipe cards and the brand have just released a cookbook ‘Tibits at home’. In true Swedish style Tibits has seen the progressive future of food and is showing Londoners the way.