Friday, 6 March 2015

Ethos (London)

It's hard to get vegetarian restaurants right and it's hard to get buffets right.  It's difficult to develop a vegetarian concept that can also draw in the carnivores and it's incredibly limiting in terms of the food you can prepare as they need to be served on a warming plate for 30 minutes before people eat it.  However, Ethos, a vegetarian buffet restaurant, has made a good effort.

It's not the standard falafels and roasted potatoes (though you get that too), but rather dozens of dishes ranging from rainbow salads to aloo scotch eggs to vegan Shepherd's pie to seitan ribs.  You grab a plate, take what you want, and then you pay at the counter by the weight.  Simple.
The restaurant itself is centrally located, being only minutes away from Oxford Circus, and beautifully designed. You've got high ceilings, plenty of light, modern decor with white brick walls and wooden furniture -- all very chic and minimalistic and trendy.  The food is laid out on big platters across tables, and everything is presented in such a way that it looks inviting, bright and colorful.  Just being there makes you feel healthy and stylish. 

At the cold section with all the salads - everything was fantastic.  All the ingredients were evidently fresh, handled with care, dressed and seasoned well.  With the hot section, the thing is, hot dishes are a bit tricky to get right in buffets.  There was a rather sad looking tray of thin lifeless flatbreads, many of the stews were either over- or under-seasoned, and most things was overall just a bit "meh".  The aloo scotch eggs were perhaps the only stand-out dish - crispy on the outside, then it's the soft, well-spiced potatoes and the all-important runny yolk.  That was good.
The desserts you pay for them separately and were rather...unimaginative.  There were the "healthy" nut and dried fruit truffles, the vegan carrot cake, muffins and other simple baked goods.  However, we had the key lime pie and it was surprisingly good.  Crunchy cookie base, a dense cheese filling and sweet caramelized key lime slices on top -- delightful.  

Ethos has been advertised as one of the best "cheap eats" in London.  Well, the thing is, it's good value for money if you don't eat much.   It's all by weight (£2.50/100g for eating in), and as I have no concept of weight, my big plate of salads and stews ended up being £21 and I was still hungry afterwards. T hat said, my companion paid £10 but she doesn't eat much.

For a quick light lunch, why not?  It's vegetarian but "deliciously different" with interesting options that can tempt carnivores and herbivores alike.  You've got the antioxidant salads for the health-conscious and indulgent cheese cakes for the rest.  If you pile your plate with light things like kale rather than heavy chickpea stews, it's good value.

48 Eastcastle Street,
020 3581 1538
Mon - Fri: 8am -10pm
Sat: 10am -10pm
Sun: 12pm - 5pm

Square Meal

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