Guilt Free Feasting: Ethos Review

I love nothing more than a good veggie restaurant- I would happily go meat free Monday to Sunday if I could afford to eat out every night. Experimental, exciting and packed full of flavour; today's veggie options are a million miles from plates of insipid steamed carrots and gelatinous tofu.

London has always been abundant in vegetarian restaurants, but the veggie food boom is arguably the best bi-product of the capital's wellness wave. Now, even the most ferocious of meat eaters could be tempted to veg out.

Of all the new openings worth raving about, my favourite is Ethos. On paper, it sounds hellish- it’s just by Oxford Circus, it has curry and arancini on the same menu and it is self-service- but in reality, Ethos is heaven.

Though the concept of "help yourself" sounds chaotic, the practice is actually quite sophisticated and allows for greedy girls like me to go to town on the starters and mains, trying a little bit of everything without feeling like a pig. Having been “good” at lunch with just a Boots Meal Deal (such a foodie- AA Gill, I’m on to you), I was pretty starving when 6:30 hit and, naturally, I loaded my plate with absolutely everything I could get my hands on. Moroccan stew, arancini, curry, courgette and feta fritters, mushroom gnocchi, sweet potato, mashed avocado, salads a-plenty, BBQ seitan ribs- my wrists were cowering under the weight.

Taking my overflowing plate up to the counter, I felt a sense of dread and was a little shocked when my dish tipped the scales at £22.00. Initially I thought that was pricey, but when I sat down and discussed with my companion, I realised I had taken way more than I could actually manage, and boxed up the rest. Though £22.00 for just one dish sounds a lot, for the volume and quality of food, it really is great value- no wonder Time Out named Ethos as one of 2015’s best cheap eats.

At Ethos, you can have a delicious, satisfying meal with a glass of wine for well under £30.00, and then have lunch leftover for the next day. It’s also a great idea for a date – you and your significant other can pile your plates high with all manner of yummy treats and then share them, like a bespoke mezze. You also pay up front which is great for two things: 1) It eradicates any awkward bill-splitting situations 2) You don’t need to wait for the bill, meaning you can polish off that bottle of wine and head straight home.

Food-wise, my standouts were the BBQ seitan ribs and the Moroccan stew. Both were rich and full of flavour, the ribs sweet and the stew spicy. I had gone with the intention of trying the giant Indian-spiced Aloo scotch eggs (separately priced at around £3.00 each- you could easily go in at lunch, pop one in a box with some salad and spend less than you would in Pret) but when we arrived they had all disappeared. After we had eaten, the chefs brought out a fresh batch, but I just couldn’t quite justify any more food.

Okay... That's a fib. We shared a veggie-friendly carrot cake with the most scrumptious cream cheese icing. Moist and rich in vanilla, it was a real treat, if a little heavy. But, hey, if it's veggie it doesn't have calories, right? Good. Glad you agree.

You really have to go to Ethos to appreciate it. Despite my hesitations, I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner and would go back in a heartbeat. I’ve popped a few tips below for first-time Ethos diners and would love to hear your thoughts on the restaurant. Tweet me at @SWfashion_ or pop a comment below.

HEAD HERE FOR: Informal dinner dates; leisurely brunching/lunching; impressing veggie visitors; lunchtime refueling.

YOU’LL LOVE IT IF: You don’t eat meat (obviously); you are weight-conscious and looking for a light, healthy dinner spot; you like to try a little bit of everything; your stomach is rumbling, and your pockets are deep.

PRICE: You can easily eat here for £30 pp with a glass of wine, and you’ll probably have leftovers for lunch. It is £2.70 per 100g at dinner, £2.50 per 110g at lunch. You can also get a hot brunch for £5.95.

DON’T GO IF: You’re going to moan about how much you love meat. Just go to Bodeans or Nandos. No one wants you here. 

DRESS CODE: No dress code, but during the week you’re likely to find a fair few fashion and media types- it is in Soho, after all.

TIPSDon’t go on an empty stomach. If you head to Ethos for dinner, have a decent lunch (no- that does not include courgetti) and then a bag of Propercorn or something to tide you over in the afternoon. That way you won’t clean out the buffet and your bank account. 

Don’t fill up your plate with salads and bread- you can get those anywhere, silly.

Box up any leftovers, add some quinoa and dressed spinach at home, and enjoy them for lunch the next day. 
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