12-14 Heddon Street
It’s not easy to categorise tibits into a particular eating occasion. I think that could be key to its charm - it’s that in-between place. It’s definitely the best place to stop in the morning and serve yourself the most delicious bircher muesli I’ve ever had, full of red berries and just the right balance of sweetness and tart sharpness. It’s also a great place to have an unplanned dinner if you’re anywhere near Regent Street. It’s relaxed, unpretentious and you serve yourself so that means it’s great for fussy eaters (as long as they’re not die-hard carnivores), and there’s no messy bill-splitting because you pay when you order. The drinks list is short but includes interesting juices and some excellent wines by the glass, and classic cocktails too. tibits is an easy place to dine alone, great for groups and even has a dedicated children’s area downstairs – unheard of for central London.
The thing that always makes me nervous in the pay-by-weight buffets is that it’s hard to gauge how much it’s all going to cost when you get to the till, and if, like me, you’ve shared the shocked feeling of paying £10 for what felt like a handful of salad leaves, you will be relieved to hear that there’s a maximum plate charge of £9.50 (with a free bread roll thrown in). So pile ‘em high folks! Add a drink or two and possibly some of that bircher muesli for dessert if you’re feeling wholesome (there’ll definitely be something more sinful available too). It’s not too pricey a night when you compare to most places in the area - even the ones on the cheaper end of the scale. Here at least you have the advantage of seeing your food before you select it. And before you turn your nose up at a buffet, it is elegantly decorated and carefully lit to feel worlds away from a standard buffet restaurant.
Tibit offers a selection of around 12 warm dishes and 15 salads and antipasti (everything is vegetarian). To make it your own, you will find several homemade sauces and dressings, plus bowls of nuts and seeds to satisfy the serious health enthusiasts. The hot selection ranges from Thai curry to samosas to soy lasagne to mash. Amongst the salads there are some inspired mixes reminiscent of the colourful combinations at Ottolenghi, but with better seasoning and a more balanced flavour. After piling our plates high with a little of everything, we learnt we would have been best to follow the recommendations of our smiling host. Kacharis with extra peas and raita were moreish, as were the lentil balls with date chutney and tahini dip. Interesting salads I’d go back for included dried green beans with walnuts, and quinoa with cranberries. I know they sound weird and I wasn’t convinced either, but trust me: it works. The antipasti was superb, full of flavour. We particularly liked the crisp, fresh fennel.
The layout at tibits is easy to navigate and excellent for allergies, with everything clearly identified on the labels. The staff are all warm and passionate about the food and wine at here too. There’s a tangible feeling that tibits is a lifestyle, not just a restaurant: a palpable enthusiasm for food, for keeping it simple, seasonal and accessible to everyone, and to offer unique, healthier options that pack a whole lot of flavour.
Tibits: 12-14 Heddon Street, London, W1B 4DA.
Reviewer: Jennifer Earle