In 2009, brothers Daniel, Christian and Reto Frei extended their popular vegetarian restaurant chain from Switzerland to London. The franchise started, as they describe it, from a frustration with a lack of plentiful vegetarian options. The Freis met with the owners of Haus Hiltl (the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe) and established a place that offered fresh vegetarian and vegan food with the speed of a fast-food stop.
What this means in practice is a self-service buffet with an abundance of cold fruit and vegetable salads, soups, hot mains and desserts. Food is priced by weight: all dishes cost the same and you only pay for as much as you have on your plate. The price per 100g changes throughout the day, providing more affordable options at lunchtime.
Like any buffet, the dishes – about 40 in total – vary based on the availability of ingredients and the season, but there are cuisines that carry through one day to the next. You might find influences from Asia (noodles, dumplings, stir fry), Italy (gnocchi, lasagna, frittata, risotto), the Middle East or the Americas (guacamole, jalapeño poppers), not to mention a tantalising selection of puddings and cakes. The buffet is topped up regularly and it’s rare to see an empty dish. You can order cocktails, beer and wine at the counter, along with other drinks like cold-pressed juice and coffee.
Tibits say that 80% of their food is vegan and that everything is local and organic where possible. Breakfast is served on weekday and Saturday mornings from 9am to 11.30am. Every Tuesday is ‘Vegan Tuesday’, offering an entirely vegan afternoon and evening buffet. An ingredient guide notes whether each dish contains allergens (eggs, nuts, celery, gluten) and onion or garlic.
The restaurant is large with an additional space downstairs for groups and busy evenings. Tables that seat four or more can be booked in advance. Many tables seat two people, which, when combined with the lighting and warm decor, creates a cosy, intimate setting.
In their words, Tibits have always strived to cater to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, and the number of customers bears this out. With a consistently impressive spread of dishes, it’s not hard to see why so many people are drawn here for a delicious meal.