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Restaurant Ethos, London. No meats, and not just shoots and leaves.

Ethos Self Service Restaurant Selection

Ethos Self Service Restaurant Selection

No meats, and not just shoots and leaves.

I have a problem with Ethos, it’s the name. Nothing wrong with it, other than I can’t remember it. Nor can my girlfriend. Not sure why. However the food on the other hand is memorable.

On a weekend trip to London staying at the commendable Charlotte Street hotel – an easier name to remember especially when you know the address – we had heard of Ethos, but just to be sure, we asked the concierge where was good for vegans – my girlfriends’ affliction through both ethical and medical choice, and a commendable one – he mentioned ‘the new vegetarian place around the corner, called ethics or something’, good olde Google pinpointed it for us ’7 minutes’ away and off we walked down the narrow allies adjacent to the hotel. Following my Google maps on my phone we were in the vicinity when I heard someone say ‘that’s that Ethos place’ – We’d already walked past it!

The distinctive almost Persian looking blue signage was all that broke the clean glass frontage allowing us to see the food laid out inside, ‘posh buffet style’ and the central area broken with what I can only describe as a coppice of silver birch trunks from floor to ceiling. Interesting.

 We were greeted by an enthusiastic server dressed in white shirt, and natty blue braces – I had over heard him enthusiastically explaining the ‘concept’ to some passers by “it’s a simple concept” he explained “you choose to eat by weight as pay as you go, or our Sunday brunch where you eat as much as you like for a fixed price £17″ No brainer for me.

Hot selection of Ethos food

Hot selection of Ethos food & good wines

We were seated and took a few moments to take in the decor. Clean. Kitchenesque (if that’s a word) with occasional seating, wood, leathers, fabrics and lots of glass. We too were approach to be briefed on the ‘concept’ which though simple is a lot to remember when you first arrive. I wasn’t sure if they were licensed as it felt a bit Pret. in style, and I had to ask – reassured they were, we handed a simple drinks list. Of concern, the wines were priced at £25 for a 500ml bottle, which I thought expensive, however we went for a Domaine de Bellemare Viognier which was proudly indicated on the list as ‘vegan’ – not a lot of people know that some wines aren’t, with fish ‘finings’ in them (part of its balder to help clear the liquid, as it’s does in beers), but nowadays many use synthetic ones and haven’t bothered being accredited as vegan – off we trotted to inspect the food.

The presentation is very fresh. All clearly labelled with simple descriptions of each dish and whether it’s vegan, gluten free or vegetarian – or all. One would expect that every dish may be based around chickpeas, shoots and leaves. Far from it, there is a great deal of creativity amongst the team of chefs who you can clearly see in the open kitchen – they actually seem happy in their work, which contrasts with many of those you see in hot kitchens cooking up bits of animal and fighting the flames from the dripping fats. All seemed cool, calm and collected – much like their creations.

Another server enthused about the dishes, explaining which dishes he ‘loves’ and ‘delights in’ and ‘enjoys’ on his break. We decided to start on the cold dishes first.

It’s easy to pile a plate high at a buffet, as it is at a carvery, so I attempted restraint. The colourful selection of roast vegetables in the beetroot and quinoa salad, avocado rich guacamole, courgette ribbon salad with unctuous feta, a wonderfully refreshing tangy Eritrean mango and cucumber salad, and a rather palatable Chinese cabbage, carrot and chilli sauce, all found space on my clean white plate with the reassuring word “ethos” embossed on the rim.

The wine was the perfect accompaniment, and to my relief was actually a full blown 750ml bottle, and the 500ml was a typo and was actually a carafe 50% more value already. Time to order another bottle for when we returned with our hot plates.

Moorish (& Thai, , Indian, Malaysian...

Aloo Scotch eggs amongst the ‘Moorish’ selection (plus Thai, , Indian, Malaysian…

Another visit to the servery and I was reaching for the diversity which included sweet corn Thai fritters with lemongrass, Moroccan tagine with butternut squash, “Loubieth”, which is a warm Lebanese green bean dish with roasted cherry tomatoes and cinnamon and cumin dressing (though Lebanese, I can only describe this as ‘Moorish’ which I satisfied in my second visit to the servery). There was also a spicy miso roasted aubergine dish which was worth a second visit too along with their “Aloo scotch egg” with spiced tomato ketchup and runny egg in the middle. One dish that didn’t seem to work for us was the ‘Seitan ribs’ which was described as ‘spiced rubbed Seitan ribs, marinated and smoked on the BBQ’ with a BBQ sauce…though I understand why they are there, the texture was neither veg, nor meat, and we both agreed that there is so many good ingredients to source for vegetarian food, maybe there is no need to create a faux meat dish- though guests of vegetarians may wish to indulge their carnivorous desires on them – I understand they are very popular  with those who long the textures and flavours of meat but continue with their love of life for others.

Again restraint was applied for the hot course, but again I ate too much but the good thing about vegetarian food is as long as you steer clear of the pasta dishes and other wheat based ingredients (being gluten free I do by default as many are increasingly doing through choice) and the pulses, you soon digest it and that panic feeling of eating too much soon passes – again the wine complimented perfectly and during a break from eating. By this time around 4pm as we arrived at 3pm, I watched the staff one by one taking their well earned break ( it opens for brunch, through to dinner) doing I as they described, revelling in helping themselves to the dishes they ‘loved’ and scurrying to a corner of the restaurant to ‘devour’ their chef’s creations.

Ethos, not just deserts…but healthy ones too (almost)

Ethos, not just deserts…but healthy ones too (almost)..no space left for one, but worth leaving some for their dark cacao truffles…

There is certainly a lot of love in the room at Ethos. Maybe that’s what the name stands for and the owners who are also on hand to ‘share the love’ have certainly instilled their own passions for the root and shoot into their team. There are a few operational improvements that can be made – wastage is always an issue in a fresh flowing all day operation depending on what time you arrive (we arrived 3pm and all still looked fresh), as is freshness of hot food that is under the constant gaze of the overhead hot lamps, and inquisitive diners, as is the replenishment of the dishes throughout the day.

I would also prefer the ingredients that the dish DOES contain being highlighted, perhaps on the back of the simple cards – so you can make your own assessment, as we noted the system that indicates if its Gluten Free, Vegan etc occasionally confused as some contain certain wheats and others didn’t, also soya needs highlighting.

Smiles all round, we left with the thoughts that if this first venture is the success it is clearly becoming and they iron out their operations to maintain the fresh appearance of the food and indeed the staff, it could clearly be the next fast food concept roll out, but without the stigma that that phrase carries.

Ethos Restaurant team - Healthy smiles all round

Ethos Restaurant team – Healthy smiles all round

…as for the name memory problem, maybe our own word association to help us may explain what it’s all about too, ‘think ethics’. www.ethosfoods.com  IMG_9461

Moorish (& Thai, , Indian, Malaysian...

Moorish (& Thai, , Indian, Malaysian…

Hot selection of Ethos food

Hot selection of Ethos food

IMG_9449 IMG_9445 IMG_9444

Ethos Self Service Restaurant Selection

Ethos Self Service Restaurant Selection

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