What: Pay by weight vegetarian buffet
Where: 48 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DX
Why you should go there: A wide variety of vegetarian food in a non-preachy environment
Favourite thing we ate: Thai sweetcorn balls
When I arrived at Ethos it was about a third full, if that, and when we left people were queuing to get in. Now I’m not saying I’m an early diner but the sooner I am eating the better in my mind. The majority of the crowd I noticed, were women although there a few men too (mostly on dates it would seem), I would imagine this is because the ratio from female to male vegetarians leans majority towards the ladies.
The venue itself is in no way feminine though and in fact looks very slick, no tree hugging (although there is a tree inside) or wheatgrass shots in sight. Now although it is vegetarian it’s by no means super healthy, so don’t think you can get away heaving your plate with fritters and sweet potato fries and still tick your ‘didn’t eat like a pig today’ box. The menu on the website gives you a guide of what you can expect but the food varies and there will always be an element of surprise on the actual day.
The food is separated into 3 sections, hot food, cold food and desserts. The hot food features items like Seitan & Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff, Zucchini & Feta Cakes (amazing) and Aloo Scotch Eggs, which looked very promising but had a slightly overpowering lemon flavour I couldn’t get on board with. Typically with a buffet, the food has been prepared earlier in the day so there is always the risk of drying out and getting a bit chewy, this was the case for the Halloumi Bites which as any cheese aficionado knows needs to be served fresh from the heat to get the best texture. The other food, especially the cold section fared better with offerings of Butternut Squash, Spinach & Feta Salad, The Good Green Salad and dips like homemade guacamole and spiced butter bean.
The dryness problem continued over to the cake section with the Orange Cake tasting a bit drab, it reminded me of an orange flavoured madeira cake; a splodge of icing would have brought it back from the brink of crustiness. The Carrot Cake survived the wait from creation to plate better but really, any cake item which is prone to drying should either not be left out in the air or avoided from a buffet all together. I was eyeing the (moist-looking) flan and instantly regretted my choice after flicking bits of cake around my plate.
Pay by weight is an interesting way of doing things and not best suited for those on a budget as prices aren’t listed so it’s guess work on how much it will cost. For frame of reference, I weighed my plate and it came to around £22 with a drink – it was mostly salad though I promise*. If you aren’t worried about counting pennies then it’s great fun, especially if you are vegetarian as it offers a wide selection and veers away from common veggie dishes that regularly rear their ugly heads, no matter how high end the restaurant.
*It was not mostly salad.