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Tibits: The Buffet is Back Just Don't Ask for a Carving Knife

Tibits
124 Southwark Street, London, SE1 OSW
Cuisine: Vegetarian
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@import url(http://www.foodtripper.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Load.ashx?type=style&file=SyntaxHighlighter.css); Helen Hokin: This basically being a buffet, it's easy for things to get messy. But with the precision of a Swiss timepiece, chefs trotted in and out of the kitchen to keep things tidied up.

 

I’m a wheat, meat and dairy girl. Two slices of white, toasted, slathered in butter with a couple of crispy rashers in between and I’m in piggy heaven. 


So what am I doing in the new Tibits vegetarian restaurant on Bankside, for a weekend brunch? A plant-based, Swiss restaurant chain boasting a self-serve ‘food boat’, fresh fruit cocktails and the promise of 40 globally-inspired menu items, I confess, got me only mildly interested. But the talk of a ‘living garden wall,’ and interiors created by Swiss designers Atelier Oi, whose clients include Louis Vuitton and Hermes, provided the pull. Food that fits its surroundings - it had to be worth a look.


Inside the exposed brickwork, graphic geometric walls, tiling and exposed urban piping are elegant, urbane. But alas, the garden wall, at least on my visit in mid-July, had yet to be unveiled. Still being quietly cultivated behind a temporary screen, there was neither shoot nor leaf to be seen. 


So garden- and bacon butty-less, I turned to the business of brunch. 


The delightful servers explained how it all works. You grab a plate from a neat stack and simply help yourself to any combo of the veggie and vegan choices arranged on the ‘food boat’ which you then pay for by weight, 

 

On the lower deck there's cold food arranged over a bed of ice, while the top works as a hot plate. It’s basically a monster salad bar – and with its eerie white lights and aerodynamic disc-shape, more flying saucer, to my eye than ship. 


We tried the hot caponata: rich, tomatoey and vibrant with a nice crunch from the addition of celery. I wondered at how the green beans in garlic managed to stay al dente after sitting up there on the hot plate. Crunchy, deep-fried jalapeños stuffed with sour cream were divine. Cauliflower with Nigella seeds, again, had just the right amount of bite. The same can be said of a slice of carrot and courgette rosti. My sister approved of a cheesy-spinach tart. She took two slices. 


This basically being a buffet, it’s easy for things to get messy but with the precision of a Swiss timepiece, chefs made regular trips, toing and froing from the kitchen, to top things up. 


Into my dessert bowl, I loaded a square of walnut cheesecake, blackcurrant-studded Bircher muesli, a couple of fresh strawberries. The cheesecake won me over. The Bircher muesli, not so much. The combination, not at all. My sister adored her strawberry cream and tutti frutti juice. I took advantage of the restaurant’s opening offer of a free glass of prosecco.


The mere whiff of a bacon sarnie, it’s been said, has turned many a veggie. But can TIbits turn a lifelong carnivore the other way? I doubt it but you don’t have to be vegetarian to walk away satisfied. I’ll be back to see the garden - once it’s grown.


Helen Hokin was a guest of Tibits, Bankside


Tibits Bankside: 124 Southwark Street, SE1 OSW, 020 7758 4113

Opening hours: Mon-Wed 7.30-22.00, Thurs-Fri 7.30- 23.00, Sat 10.30-23.00, Sun 10.30-22.00


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18 July 2017
By: Helen Hokin
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