Review: Vegan days at tibits

I visited tibits restaurant in London for the first time a while ago and have been keen to go back ever since, all the more so since they’ve recently started holding “Vegan Days” every 11th day. I finally managed to get to London for a few days at the end of last week and took the opportunity to have a meal at tibits and a catch-up with my Mum at the same time.

tibits vegetarian restaurant, London

Tibits is an all-vegetarian restaurant in the heart of London, just off busy Regent’s Street. It’s a big space, clearly needed, since it’s very popular and was packed the evening we went. I think the interior design is pretty stylish and rather funky with its night-time lighting.

tibits vegetarian restaurant, London

It works a little differently to most restaurants in that you don’t order off a menu but help yourself from the “food boat”. You fill your plate with all the goodies you like (hot dishes, salads, soups, breads and desserts) and pay by weight. About 80% of the dishes are vegan on normal days but on Vegan Days almost everything is vegan, including all the hot dishes. The selection is regularly topped up so everything is fresh.

I was pleased to see an emphasis on seasonal ingredients too and for those with allergies or other specific dietary requirements everything is clearly marked with a symbol or letter (containing gluten, nuts, soy, onions, garlic etc.)

tibits vegetarian restaurant, London

It was the ideal system for someone like me who can never decide what to have when faced with a menu. This way we could try lots of things. I love eating out with my Mum as we always share so we can maximise the number of dishes we get to taste!

On to the food! As it was dark in the restaurant and I was just using my iPhone to take pictures they’re pretty poor-quality. For some better pictures of the dishes on offer you can take a look at the tibits site.

tibits vegetarian restaurant, London

I started with a freshly-squeezed juice while my Mum had wine. This was the “Juice of the Month”- Blueberry, Orange, Apple & Grape.

tibits starter plate

We thought we should pace ourselves as neither of us were especially starving. I think we still managed to do pretty well though! We got a starter plate to share with a selection of cold salads- carrot and beetroot, greens, falafel, a curried quinoa & cranberry dish, a lentil salad and, what I’ve been told is one of tibit’s signature dishes, their dried bean and walnut salad. We also got two little gluten-free linseed and soya rolls, cutely named “glutinis”. Everything was delicious and I was particularly taken with the dried bean salad.

tibits main plate 1

We then got two plates of hot dishes and shared again. As you’re paying by weight rather than per plate you can go up as many times as you like. Pictured above is a chickpea tagine and couscous, we both agreed this was a bit too spicy, though perhaps we’re wimps! The lemony braised fennel was divine, and just like the mangetout it was perfectly cooked. It might sound strange to rave about such simply prepared vegetables but I don’t think I’ve ever had such tender, crisp mangetout before! The autumn roasted vegetables with figs and pears also went down very well with both of us.

tibits main plate 2

As tibits has a Swiss chef (as well as several restaurants in Switzerland), there’s a decidedly Swiss feel to some of the dishes. These hearty pasta dishes reminded me of something I might have had in the mountains skiing when I was younger. There was spaetzle with oyster mushrooms and tomatoes and a pumpkin and chard lasagne with a hazelnut sauce (my favourite).

tibits dessert 1

For dessert there wasn’t a huge selection of vegan options, but enough for us both to get something different. I chose the berry cream and topped it with a little toasted coconut. My Mum opted for the sticky toffee pudding. We were apprehensive about this one but wrongly so as it was very good- sweet, moist and perfectly spiced. I only had a little bite but it was a memorable one.

tibits dessert 2

We finished up with fresh mint teas.

The staff were lovely, very friendly but not intrusive,  and efficient clearing plates and keeping the “food boat” topped up.

If you’re paying a visit to London I would definitely say tibits is a must-visit. They’ve got the dates for the next Vegan Days up on their website so you can plan accordingly. There’s a wide selection of vegan dishes even on non-designated “Vegan Days” so I’d be perfectly happy to visit any time.

Have you eaten at tibits yet? If you’re vegan or vegetarian, do you prefer to eat at exclusively vegan/vegetarian restaurants?

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Disclaimer: The meal was complimentary, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Review: Al Shami, Oxford

I wasn’t planning on posting today but I couldn’t resist a little bonus post This is not following my Vegan MoFo theme. I’ll be back on the A-Z next week, with the letter F on Monday.

As I’m shortly leaving Oxford to move to a new city my Mum asked if there was anywhere I’d like to go out to eat for a “farewell” meal. I didn’t have to think twice about my choice as Al Shami is my favourite Oxford restaurant. It’s not vegan, nor even vegetarian but is incredibly vegan-friendly and all vegan dishes are clearly marked with Ve on the menu. Apparently a new menu is in the works with  info for those avoiding gluten and nuts too.

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

It’s a Lebanese restaurant and if you’ve been reading Coconut and Berries a little while you’ll know that Middle-Eastern might just be my favourite cuisine!

The restaurant’s not particularly fancy at all but it’s definitely authentic :)

There are so many dishes to choose from that it’s best to go with a few people so that you can try more! Most of the dishes are “Meze” (small plates) anyway so order lots! Although I was eating with omnivores everyone was very happy to eat vegan and let me take charge of the ordering.

Here’s what we got :

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Mohammara Bil-Jawz- Mixed crushed nuts, red capsicum, olive oil and spices

My love of dips probably warms me to Lebanese food as there are so many, and all completely different. This is rich and slightly spicy.

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Fattoush- Mixed salad with herbs and toasted Lebanese bread

A traditional salad with plenty of parsley and lemon, just how I like it.

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

They automatically bring a basket of flatbread and a plate of salad to the table- lettuce, tomato, raw carrot and pepper, radishes and pickles- which is nice to nibble on to start with or to use to scoop up the delicious dips and other dishes. Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Moutabel- Puréed aubergines, tahini, lemon juice, garlic

The phrase “looks can be deceiving” comes to mind with this dish as it looks slightly bland and insipid. I don’t know how they managed it but it had a fantastic smoky flavour. I thought it must be smoked paprika but it’s not red coloured so I’m perplexed… Any suggestions? I really want to recreate this one!

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Falafel- Ground chickpeas and broad beans mixed with spices, fried

Does anyone not like falafel?! These were rather a treat as I always bake rather than fry the falafel I make at home. I adore them anyway but they’re quite different to these crispy little morsels.

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Ardi-Shoki- Artichokes with selected vegetables cooked in our special sauce

The cute name alone enticed me into ordering this one (!), but it was delicious too. I’ve not had artichokes cooked like this before- I usually just use them to top pizza to be honest but they soaked up the sweet, tangy sauce wonderfully.

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

It came served with rice…

Review: Al Shami Lebanese Restaurant, Oxford

Mujadara- Cracked wheat, lentils and fried onions (This comes with yogurt but we asked them to omit this).

I’m going to be on the look out for cracked wheat like this as the bulgur I’ve bought before is finer and doesn’t have the same toothsome quality.

I forgot to get a picture of this dish but you can kind of see it in the first photo- Zahra Maqlia- Fried cauliflower topped with tahini, parsley, garlic, lemon juice. Gosh was this good. The cauliflower is wonderfully tender but crisp and draped in silky tahini sauce. We were so stuffed but couldn’t bear to leave any of this behind.

There were four of us eating and it all came to only £8 a head (excluding drinks)! Seriously good value I think. For some reason it wasn’t listed on Happy Cow so I’ve just added it to the listings so other vegans/vegetarians visiting Oxford can find out about it.

Are you a Middle-Eastern food fan? Which dish looks best to you?

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

Last week I had a few days away in Edinburgh, Scotland. Every year for 3 weeks in August the “Edinburgh Fringe Festival” takes place in the city and me and a friend, R,  went up to check it out. It’s the largest arts festival in the world and involves thousands of performers presenting all kinds of shows- theatre, comedy, music, dance and more.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

We saw some fantastic performances…as well as some less than brilliant ones. My top pick was “Angels in America”, an adaptation of Tony Kushner’s play about the AIDs crisis in America in the mid 80s. I’m going to have to check out the film version. Also up there amongst my favourites was “John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice the Musical” , which describes itself as “an all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2,500 years of political philosophy” and was equally hilarious and thought-provoking. What’s more, it was put on by a group of Oxford students so we were particularly pleased that it was so good Smile

It was my first time to Edinburgh, and actually my first time to Scotland too, so it was fun to do some exploring and get to know a new city as well as enjoy the festival.  We had to eat too of course, so took the opportunity in between events to explore Edinburgh’s veg-friendly dining options. Meals were rather erratic due to show timings, queuing for tickets, and late starts (my getting up early definitely went out the window…) but we still managed pretty well on the eating front.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

Café Milk was a good little find for breakfast one day. I loved the quirky “milk bar” decor and the menu was more innovative than most. By the time we ate it was more of a lunch than a breakfast hour and I was nearly tempted by their savoury options but in the end I settled for sweet as per usual.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

This was the Bircher Muesli. Soaked oats with strawberries, topped with banana, granola and honey (yes I eat honey on occasion…). This was so so tasty and very filling.  I think the oats were just soaked in water, authentic Bircher muesli style (It’s usually topped with yogurt but I asked for it to be left off) but soaking them makes them magically creamy all the same.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

We passed by The Baked Potato Shop several times and it certainly seems to be hugely popular as there were always queues outside and customers sitting on the pavement eating their humungous spuds! I loved that it said “vegan” on the shop-front. It’s exclusively vegetarian and pretty much just does baked potatoes but with a whole range of creative fillings alongside the more standard baked beans, chili etc. It’s a shame that we didn’t end up sampling their food but the fact that we were spoilt for choice with all the other veg options in the city was definitely a good thing I suppose!

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

Henderson’s vegetarian restaurant is something of an institution in Edinburgh. They now have 3 locations in the city- the original restaurant, the bistro and deli. They’re known for their wholesome, hearty food, and that’s certainly what we got. I chose the Thai nut burger which came with homemade potato wedges. It was decent but could have done with some kind of sauce as it was a little bland. I thought it was also a bit expensive, especially considering it was counter not table service. My friend chose better, opting for the Malaysian curry with brown rice. The presentation was lacking but I had a bite and it was tasty, and a huge portion.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

One of the many groups of street performers on the High Street. Scottish Highland dancing looks so fun! Though I’m not sure I’d want to wear the outfit…

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

Our meal at Orb Café, Scotland’s only raw food restaurant, was probably my favourite of our trip. We had scheduled in a few hours between events one afternoon and took the opportunity to walk out a bit further from the busy centre to this place and enjoy a more leisurely meal.

I had a lovely green smoothie to start with. This was mild and refreshing, just what I needed, as I never get enough vegetables, especially greens, when travelling.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

My friend chose the raw pizza- a flax-buckwheat base topped with red pepper cashew cheese, olives, capers and sundried tomatoes. It came with kale chips and salad. R’s not vegan but I’ve taken him to quite a few vegan and raw places before so it’s not unfamiliar territory for him. He even told me he craves the raw flax crackers from Saf sometimes! He said it was good but the kale chips and base could have been a little crisper.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

I had already decided I’d be having dessert so didn’t go too wild on my main meal. This was the pear and walnut salad which had both fresh and dried pears, a delicious sweet mustard dressing and came with chewy onion bread. I really enjoyed it and it was the perfect size.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

R accompanied me in having dessert, choosing the nutty brownie with raw chocolate ice cream, berry coulis and cherries. I gather it was good and the ice cream was Booja Booja which I know is amazing.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

I had the banana coconut cream pie. This was perfect for me as it wasn’t too sweet but had a light, moussey texture and chewy coconut crust. It came with a dollop of cashew cream, prettily adorned with pink buckwheat crispies.

Like most raw food places it was quite expensive, but I’m happy to pay for good quality, well-presented food.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

I couldn’t leave Scotland without trying vegetarian haggis! On our last night I finally got to. I’m sure most of you know what the non-veg haggis is and it’s not something pleasant to think about so I won’t go describe it here. The veggie version is really a thick bean and lentil stew, lightly spiced and thickened with oats. It does somewhat resemble the kind of early vegetarian food from the 70s, but it’s delicious in a homey sort of way.  Like the non-veg version it was served with “neeps and tatties” (turnip and potato) and red wine gravy. You’ll have to excuse the terrible photo- the restaurant’s in a basement so has no light, and I can’t really imagine this dish photographing well in any case.

If you’re interested in trying it for yourself, Henderson’s have actually posted the recipe they use. I’ll be recreating it in the winter for sure.

Vegan on Tour: Edinburgh

Despite the haggis being pretty substantial, this was lunch and dinner in one go so I indulged in a piece of chocolate hazelnut cake (with oat cream on the side).  This was delicious, albeit very rich, so I took my time over it while my friend enjoyed a glass of wine, and we listened to the live piano performance in the background.


Other places:

Hula Juice Bar was a useful find for a decent breakfast/lunch and we went a couple of times. As well as fresh juices and smoothies other vegan options included porridge, granola, bagels and wraps.

David Bann vegetarian restaurant. A little smarter than most. It was candle-lit so I couldn’t get any pictures, but Ienjoyed the Chilli pancake which was sort of like a dosa done Mexican-style. The crepe-like red lentil pancake was rolled around a spicy bean filling and served with  grilled sweet potato, courgette and chocolate sauce. The service was incredibly speedy, ideal when you’ve got to dash to your next performance although there was a nice atmosphere to the place so it would have been nice to take our time.

Dovecot Café. When we arrived on Monday it was almost 2pm and we were definitely ready for lunch by then. We had an hour to kill before we could check into our hostel anyway so grabbed a bite at this cute place. It’s not vegetarian but they had a few nice options: sandwiches, soups and salad.

The Chocolate Tree was another place I’d have liked to visit but we didn’t get to this time as unfortunately it was a bit far out of the centre. It’s a chocolate shop and café in one! They sell their own artisan individual chocolates and bars, and have a range of special hot chocolates to enjoy there, along with homemade cakes (many are apparently (vegan and often gluten-free), ice creams and sorbets.

I really enjoyed my time away and might well go back to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival next year. I’ve just read that Glasgow was voted the most vegan-friendly city in the UK though so maybe I should be going to a different Scottish city..

Have you been to Scotland before? Enjoyed any good veg meals out recently?

Vegan on Tour: Bath

I’m just back from a couple of days in the beautiful city of Bath! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned on here but in September I’m moving from Oxford to Bath to do a masters at the university there. I’ve visited the city twice before but only for assessments and both times I’ve hardly had time to see the city. This trip was planned specifically for exploring the city, flat-hunting, and having a little Mummy/daughter time.

Royal Crescent and Circus

We had a really lovely time getting to know the city and I was so pleased to find a flat I love. What’s also made me even more excited to move was the great veg dining options we discovered! As before any trip to an unfamiliar place I’d had a browse on Happy Cow at home to find out what was on offer and was pleasantly surprised to find a few entirely vegetarian restaurants. As part of getting to know the city we of course had to do the rounds of all the veg eateries Smile

We arrived at lunchtime and so after checking into our bed & breakfast walked into town to find the first place on my list!

Chapel Arts Café is an all-vegetarian café connected to an Arts Centre with all sorts of interesting sounding events. I’m afraid snapping a photo slipped my mind as we were pretty hungry. We shared 2 dishes and just about managed to finish them between us as they were so tasty- the portions were huge! Flatbreads make up most of the menu (in your choice of spelt or wheat) and there are a range of toppings. We went for the “Moroccan” which had a thick layer of hummus, tabboulleh, salsa + harissa, and the chef kindly subbed avocado for the tzatziki.   We also had the “salad combo” plate which changes daily and had a lentil salad, a carrot + caper salad (my favourite), more tabboulleh and green leafies.

The afternoon we walked (in the pouring rain) around the city and had a flat-viewing. This was in fact my first and only flat-viewing as it was too perfect and I decided it was pointless to see any others! All the arrangements were made and after a little more exploring and a relax back at the hotel it was time for dinner.

I’d heard about Demuths before and how it was a must-visit but I didn’t realize it was going to be a vegetarian fine-dining experience. A quick glance at the menu and I was swooning. There weren’t too many vegan options but in this case it was a good thing as otherwise I’d never have been able to decide what to have! Here’s the menu so you can see what I mean:

Demuths Menu, Bath

I love eating out with my Mum as she’s always willing to share dishes with me, which means I can try more without getting too stuffed! So that we had room for 3 courses we shared a starter and a pudding and had our own main courses.

Charred Leeks starter, Demuths

Charred Leeks with hickory smoked potato, hazelnuts, apple + pickled yellow mustard

This probably isn’t something I’d usually go for but it sounded intriguing and I thought the other vegan option, carrot cashew paté, was something more like what I might make myself. I was pleased I pushed myself to try something different as this was really tasty, especially the smoky potatoes. Fennel + Apricot Tagine, main course, Demuths

Fennel + Apricot Tagine with roast courgette, chickpeas, citrus purée, pistachios and spiced panisses

Another very good dish. I was a little hesitant before this came as tagine is usually a homey, rustic sort of dish, but this was unlike any tagine I’d ever made, not simple, hearty food but far more special. Every flavour was allowed to shine individually as well as blending so well together. Panisses are fried chickpea flour cakes, and although I’ve used chickpea flour a lot in my kitchen, I’ve never made these. That will soon be changing though!Chocolate Ganache with Port Cherries, dessert, Demuths

Chocolate Ganache with Port Cherries + Frozen Coconut Mousse

I think I’m incapable of leaving a restaurant with vegan dessert options without having one! I was pretty excited that there was more than just sorbet available for vegans. This was so so delicious. I’m glad we shared again though as it was very rich. The crunchy cacao nibs, toasted coconut and salt sprinkled on top really made the creamy ganache sing. Cherries are always fantastic with chocolate. I only wished the coconut mousse pieces were a little bigger as I thought their flavour got a little lost.

It was a great meal in a very cozy setting, and although Demuths is definitely not an everyday restaurant I’m sure I’ll be back for special occasions.

The next day it was raining again, and having already chosen a flat  decided to go to Ikea in nearby Bristol to see if we could find anything useful and hope it brightened up for an afternoon back in Bath. The hotel put on a lovely breakfast- we had fruit compote, cereal and soy milk from the buffet and I had grilled tomatoes and mushrooms on toast as well! The hotel staff were very helpful and even offered non-dairy spread for toast.

After a successful Ikea trip we made it back to Bath in time for a late lunch. Next on my list was The Green Rocket. I gather this place is fairly new but it already seems to be doing well and had a steady flow of diners in while we were there. I wasn’t surprised when I tasted the food. Almost everything on the menu was vegan and all the cakes were too! We weren’t particularly hungry after a big breakfast and knew we’d be eating out again later so didn’t go crazy and shared 2 starters and 2 cakes.

Courgette "Spaghetti" Salad, The Green Rocket Café

Courgette “Spaghetti” Salad

If you saw my last post you’ll know I’m already a courgette spaghetti eater! With just a few ingredients this was one of the best courgette noodle dishes I’ve eaten, if not the best, and one I’ll definitely be recreating at home. It had olives, sundried tomatoes, dates, torn basil and just a touch of olive oil.

Fennel + Chard Pakoras, The Green Rocket Café

Fennel + Chard Pakoras

Light and flavourful and not greasy at all. The perfect size to leave a little space in our tummies for a piece of the lemon-lime polenta cake and a piece of coffee-walnut cake between us.

Lemon-Lime Polenta Cake, The Green Rocket Café

The sun came out for us in the afternoon which was ideal for a good walk. It’s nice to see how much green space the city has and we walked up through Royal Victoria park and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens (highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the city), and I had to see the iconic Royal crescent and “The Circus”. We rested our weary legs for a while back at the hotel again and got cleaned up for our final meal out.

We tried a Nepalese restaurant with a great name “Yak Yeti Yak”. I’ve had Nepalese once before and enjoyed it so I was keen to try it again.  What made our evening even more fun for me was eating, sitting on the floor! We had little cushions and sat cross-legged at our low table. The guys running the place were Nepali and all the classic dishes were there. We had the vegetable momos to start, steamed vegetable dumplings served with a delicately-spiced hemp seed chutney.

Nepalese feast, Yak Yeti Yak

For our main we again shared a selection of dishes: Cauli Keraw, cauliflower and green peas stir-fried with freshly ground spices, Chamsur Sag, stir-fried spinach and watercress, Bhuteko Bhat, fried rice Nepalese style with turmeric, mustard seeds and mixed vegetables, and finally Musurko Dal, split orange lentil sauce cooked with traditional spices and finished with garlic fried in vegan butter.

We got chatting to two girls my age at the table next to us who were planning a 3 month trip to India and Nepal. It turned out that one of them had been vegan for life and her Mum was Amanda Sweet, author of the classic vegan guide,  The Vegan Health Plan! I’m always pleased to meet vegans when out and about as we are still few and far between in the “real world”.

We said our goodbyes to Bath the following morning and drove back to Oxford but I’m now really looking forward to starting my course in September having got such great vibes from the city.

Have you been to Bath before?

Do you live in a veg-friendly area?