I’m a hardcore meat eater.
I love turkey, chicken, beef, pork… I’d choose a juicy steak over any vegetarian meal anytime. Whenever someone suggests that “they do some really good salads here,” I shoot them a look that could kill, and politely remind them I’m not a rabbit.
I don’t believe a vegetarian diet is healthier (hey, science says eating cooked meat is how we got our big brains and became smarter) or tastier. In fact, I never thought any vegetarian, or vegan, dish, could taste amazing. Nice, yes. Good, yes. Amazing, no way.
So, when I received an invitation to sample the winter menu at Tibits, a vegetarian (mostly vegan, really) restaurant nestled in a peaceful oasis just off that chaotic hubbub that is Regent Street (12-14 Heddon Street), my first reaction was to turn it down. Then, I checked the website. They had stuff like coffee and chocolate risotto, and who wouldn’t want to try that?
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste that. As I said, I was there to try the new winter menu, which includes delicacies such as aubergine amaranth, Middle Eastern aubergine stew served with Lebanese white rice, and orange risotto with rosemary and caramelized walnuts. I love both rice and orange, so this was a match made in heaven for me.
Another favourite dish was the vegetable tartar. I have no idea what’s in it, but oh my God, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. One of the best dishes I’ve had in my life. So, yeah, I had to eat my words too. Vegetarian and vegan food can taste amazing.
But, you know what really surprised me? The fruity red cabbage salad. Now, salad to me is only a side dish to meat and fish, and, of course, there was neither here. But, the fruity bit was actually orange, and I’m crazy about oranges, so I thought it would be safe enough to give it a go. I devoured it. The juice from the orange adds a freshness and zestiness to the sweet red cabbage that makes anyone wonder if they’re really eating cabbage. Cos, you know cabbage isn’t supposed to taste this good.
Then, there were the desserts. The choice was between avocado chocolate tarte, sticky toffee, or wildberry bake. I wish I could have tasted them all, but I was quite full at this point, so I opted for the wildberry bake. The sweet berry filling was absolutely delicious, and the perfect conclusion to the meal.
If you think all these dishes are mouth-watering and are wondering how the heck you can choose, well, have them all. Tibits isn’t your usual restaurants where you sit down, they bring you a menu, and you order one or two dishes, plus dessert.
No, in the middle of the cosy restaurant is a wooden boat (yes, really) loaded with more than 40 dishes. So, you can fill your plate with a bit of this and a bit of that, sampling one quarter of the menu without breaking the bank. Then, you head to the bar, where your food is weighted.
At lunch, you pay 2.30 per gram, at dinner 2.60. More than reasonable, when you consider the location and the talent of the chef. Seriously, he must have some sort of superpower to make fruits and veggies taste this good.
But you can give it a go, too. Vegan Love Story, Hiltl & Tibits The Cookbook, is full of delicious and beautifully illustrated recipes you can recreate at home, so you can surprise your friends with healthy and colourful dishes that taste as good as they look.
Tibits is a place where anyone, meat lovers included, can go to enjoy an exceptionally good and healthy meal. It’s also the perfect place for meat eaters to lunch or dine with their vegetarian and vegan friends. For once, you’ll both enjoy the food!