Their idea was to create modern, vegetarian restaurants-takeaways, where healthy food would be served all day, from breakfast to dinner.
In order to achieve their goal, they relied on the gastronomical background of Rolf and Marielle Hiltl, owners and chefs of Haus Hiltl in Zurich, Europe’s oldest and award winner vegetarian restaurant.
The partnership resulted in a successful venture, and in 2000 Tibits opened in Zurich. Today they have four restaurants in Switzerland, and two years ago opened their first international branch in London.
Tibits is located in London’s Food Quarter, a pedestrian area a few meters away from Regent’s street, where many restaurants such as the Moroccan Momo’s, and the Italian Piccolino’s, opened next to each other.
A combo between a café, a restaurant, and a self-service, it offers a variety of recipes that satisfy not only vegetarians, but vegan and dairy free customers as well.
At the entrance of the restaurant, there is a boat-shaped table where more than 40 choices of food are showcased. Customers can create their own ideal meal from tempting recipes inspired by Asian, Indian, and Mediterranean flavours, including good old British classics such as bangers and mash. Fresh juices, organic beers and wine are also on the menu.
Friendly staff will hand you a tray to help yourself at the buffet, and give you a credit card size badge where the total weigh of your portions will be summed at the counters at the end of your meal. In fact you will only pay for the food weight, not for its ingredients.
The first time I went to Tibits for dinner, as a starter I tried a crusty but soft Herdsman focaccia with goat’s cheese. The cheese was neither too strong nor too mild but perfectly matched the baked aftertaste of the bread.
I tried as well one what they consider their specialty, a dried been salad with walnuts enhanced by a red balsamic vinegar and coriander sauce, an original assortment of ingredients that transformed a simple vegetables dish into a tasteful main.
Chefs need to improve the cooking of the pasta dishes, as they were all mainly overcooked and served just warm, while the pastry of the pies was far too thick, leaving very little space for the stuff.
As a dessert, among their vast choices I tried the dairy free “cheese” cake, only a person with a discriminating taste could have recognized the total lack of dairy ingredients. The same for the pineapple tiramisu, interfiled by a tasty and dense cream, made of soya pretending to be mascarpone.
All food is freshly prepared by Chefs, and comes from organic markets. There is also an on-site store where customers can buy the vegetables or spices used in the recipes.
The restaurant decor has a baroque touch, the main room is a large dining area completely decorated by Designers Guild, with brocade wallpaper, velvet poufs, and huge chandeliers covered in red fabric with purples fringes. The basement, has a simpler decor, there are a few long rectangular tables to accommodate large families, some large mirrors and a playroom for kids.
The atmosphere is relaxed and easy, customers come from different backgrounds, you can easily find students mixed up with locals in their 40’s, tourists, and groups of friends of all ages and nationalities. I was expecting a more “Yogi”clientele, instead it is very clear that healthy and vegetarian cuisine is spreading across different lifestyles and ages.
Even if the association between vegetarian food and Swiss is not very clear -one might think they are good in doing chocolate and milk- the matching works, and I won’t be surprised to discover soon, another branch of the self-service in some other posh London area.
12-14 Heddon Street
off Regent Street
London W1B 4DA