Ethos

Buffets do strange things to people. I’ve seen civilised folk gauge each other’s eyes out for the last sausage roll at a wedding. I was there man.

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Ethos isn’t strictly a buffet, in fact if you go there with buffet-style tactics of piling your plate to the ceiling you might regret it. Everything on offer here is on a self-serve basis and is charged by the weight (£2.70 per 100g for dinner) – worth remembering as you precariously balance halloumi bites on top of broccoli on top of wasabi potato salad like a vegetarian Buckeroo.

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Yes, if you haven’t already twigged this is a meat-free zone. I know, I’m scared too. Turns out though, you’ll probably forget about your beloved carcass seconds into your first walk around. It’s a real feast for the eyes; serving bowls are piled with things so vibrant with colour you feel healthier just looking at them, and there’s a plethora of naughtier bite-sized bits to draw you in too.

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I feel fairly confident saying that the salads will blow your mind. Every one we tried was layered with thoughtful flavour combinations and textures.  The Dream salad was the highlight, a summer snog of avocado, mango and berries with mixed greens (and a shitload of antioxidants.)  Fennel and apple salad was just as frickedy fresh, bolstered by disgracefully moreish caramelised peanuts up top.

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I keep finding more on my plate. Roasted cauliflower florets, beautifully crunchy with walnuts, cranberries & tahini; giant couscous, simply done but perfectly garden fresh. The only slightly underwhelming choice were the ‘Brocco beats’ with lotus roots – hip name but not much going on and Dre noticeably absent.

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I’m pleasantly surprised by the price. My Jedi mind tricks didn’t work on the weighing scales but my plate still came to well under £20 (despite an impressive Jenga effort.)

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The hot dishes comfortably dot around the culinary atlas, taking in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian influence. I loved the Japanese miso aubergine, roasted slices with chilli and spring onion, and also suggest that you get all over the Lebanese loubieh and Turkish bamya (okra, aubergine, sesame seeds.)

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If you’re still missing your meat fix try a couple of ‘meatballs’, a delicious aubergine-based substitute in a rich tomato sauce, and pretend it came from something that used to stand on four legs.

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The problem is knowing when to stop – I could have easily done another round of the tasty bits, like arancini with feta and pesto (‘low in cholesterol, high in calcium’) or pumpkin and ricotta fritters (‘rich in protein and high fibre.’) There’s no ‘deep fried to buggery’ sign so it’s seemingly all good for you. In which case crack on….

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…but don’t be daft and miss the puddings. I scoffed an epic portion of pecan pie whilst V waxed lyrical about her lemon slice. If there’s any chocolate marquesa slices left, chin anyone who looks like they might get some before you. It’s everything you remember Sara Lee gateau to be when you were young (and it wasn’t.)

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Ethos is a great place to have a chilled lunch or dinner. It’s informal but inviting inside, and the pay-by-weight schtick is actually a great wheeze. It doesn’t really seem fair for a beast like me to pay the same price as Emilia with her three olives and solitary leaf of spinach. With the exception of an undercooked zucchini and feta cake (the horror) the food excited me in a way I never thought vegetables could do. I’ve already been back and came out unscathed both times – now that’s a civilised buffet.

4/5

48 Eastcastle St, W1W 8DX

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