Miso-Roasted Aubergine – where have you been all my life?! That’s what I was thinking when I recently visited Ethos, a newish vegetarian restaurant tucked behind Oxford Circus. The nutty sweetness, the moreish umami finish, it was something special. To all the sceptics out there who think vegetarian food is bland, mushy and won’t fill you up, I urge you to get down to Ethos immediately and give your taste buds a treat.
Jessica Kruger, who opened Ethos last Autumn, wanted to share her vision – or ethos, you might say – that vegetarian food can be inventive, delicious and supremely satisfying. Tick, tick and tick. The restaurant has a kind of Scandi-meets-nature vibe, with a calm palette of white, grey and mid-blue with real tree trunks stretching from floor to ceiling. On one side are the tables, on the other is the food: huge plates and bowls sit on round marble table tops under pendant lamps. The idea is that you serve yourself, buffet-style, then you pay at the counter by weight.
And the food… Oh the food… It’s an eclectic mix, inspired by cuisines around the world. There’s an Asian clementine and cabbage salad, Moroccan chickpea tagine, arancini balls. The salads are a fresh and sumptuous rainbow of beetroot, blood orange, kumquat and quinoa and butternut squash, spinach and feta. A pile of pitta bread sits next to bowls of baba ganoush, hummus and guacamole, while the dishes of zucchini and feta cakes and aloo scotch eggs are emptied as quickly as the chefs can replenish them. After a few moments of “buffet panic” – what to choose and how much to have? – I got stuck in.
A generous plate of food costs around £10-£12. At the counter you can also buy wine, bottled beers, juices and other soft drinks. And there’s a dessert table, priced per item, sitting pretty with pecan pie, orange and polenta cake and raspberry and lemon cheesecake, as well as less sinful options like coconut and cocoa truffles and chia-seed pudding. The ethos here isn’t about denial, it’s about indulgence. And I’ve never felt better for indulging so much.
Ethos 48 Eastcastle Street, London W1W 8DX. Lunch, £2.50/100g; Dinner £2.70/100g