Vegan Guide to Dubrovnik

It’s been almost two years since my last travel post – my trip to London in October 2019 was the last time I was abroad before COVID hit. And while Switzerland is definitely a great place for living and holidaying, you just don’t get any seaside vibes in this landlocked country – most definitely not during this summer of epic rain. Craving sunshine and the sea, my boyfriend and I ended up visiting and instantly falling in love with Croatia.

We were there for 8 nights and decided to focus on the Dalmatian coast in the area close to Dubrovnik. We spent 3 nights in Dubrovnik, very close to the Old Town, before heading a 30 min. drive up north to peaceful Brsečine for rest and relaxation. We spent the final night in charming Cavtat, walking through the old town and making the most of the sea before an early flight home. Short but very sweet, we had a good mix of activity and exploring (highlights: the old city walls of Dubrovnik – best in the early evening; kayaking around the island of Lokrum) coupled with downtime, basking in the Croatian sun. While Dubrovnik is not (yet? hopefully 🙂 ) a vegan hot spot, there were some foodie highlights I can share with you:

Continue reading “Vegan Guide to Dubrovnik”

Plant-Based Eating – Zurich, Part II

Hello and happy Monday!

I’m finally back with some more plant-based food recommendations.

Work and moving has meant less time and energy for hobbies. But eating as much good plant-based food as possible is still very much a passion, so here are some more recommendations for vegan food in Zurich (for the first part of this series check out this post).

 

For every daySimply Soup

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This has become one of my favorite go-to’s for a quick & healthy lunch during the week. Their aim of making ‘delicious but healthy fast food available to everyone, everywhere at any time!‘ and their belief in fresh, seasonal andhomemade food definitely comes across in their dishes. Besides the obvious option of soup (always including a vegan choice, such as ‘lentil green-curry’ or ‘indian dhal saba’) they have salads, sandwiches and – the main attraction for me so far – their buddha-bowl style bowls. Currently they have a ‘Crunchy Kale Quinoa Bowl’ that I haven’t yet tried, as I’m too obsessed with the ‘Asian Soba Noodle Bowl’ (soba noodles, edamame, mango, avocado, carrots, broccoli, sesame seeds and a wonderfully flavorful sweet tahini dressing). They also sell delicious sweet snacks by Joeli’s (@hellojoelis) in cute little tubs: Raw Brownie Bites, Coco Kisses and Cacao Energy Balls (super yummy and they went down well with my work colleagues).

I like the bright interior, the positive and healthy vibe and the fact that Simply Soup is active on social media so you can always see what’s going on and what new items they have

Locations: There is one near the tram station Kalkbreite/Wiedikon (Kalkbreitestrasse 10), one near Stauffacher (Hallwylstrasse 24) and the most central one at Pelikanstrasse 19 (haven’t been to that one yet).

 

For special occasionsMarktküche

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For vegan haute cuisine/fine dining this place is a MUST! All-vegan and all out amazing, this place is worth the hefty price tag. I took my boyfriend here to celebrate getting the job I wanted, and we were in heaven eating 5 courses of beautifully arranged dishes that were absolutely bursting with creativity and flavor. The service reflected the high quality of the place and added to our experience. If you’re visiting Zurich or have something to celebrate definitely make a reservation and let yourself be delighted by the amazing combinations of tastes and textures. (On the last Friday of every month they’re also open for lunch).

Location: Feldstrasse 98 (near Bäckeranlage)

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Vegan buffetVegelateria (The Sacred)

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I first found out about this fully vegan eatery and gelateria (!) via my HappyCow App, but only ended up going when one of my work colleagues mentioned it recently. Once there I kicked myself for not going earlier – this place is like a less stylish version of trendy vegetarian eatery Hiltl, but more exciting. The buffet is fully vegan and, while smaller than the one at Hiltl, has all kinds of interesting dishes (once you’ve been to Hiltl a few times, you tend to recognize most things). I was in heaven walking around, deciding which items to pick and piling a bit of everything on my plate. A serious highlight was also the chocolate truffle I got for dessert – the most satisfying chocolately experience I can remember. There are also cheesecakes and all kinds of other sweet treats, not to mention a large array of vegan ice creamsthat I can’t wait to try, now that the weather has gotten warmer.

Location: Müllerstrasse 64 (near Helvetiaplatz)

 

Le Cèdre

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If you like Lebanese food, you should definitely give this a go. This place is quite well-known, and I’ve been loving it since before going plant-based. I went there again recently after my graduation ceremony, and was hit again by just how delicious everything is. There are many nice Lebanese places in Zurich, but this is the best in my eyes. My favorite thing is to order vegetarian mezze (most of it vegan, and they’ll tell you which ones are not) to share and then feast on the creamiest hummus, delicious falafel, moutabel etc. Be sure to make a reservation, to be on the safe side.

Locations: one near the tram stop Bellevue (Schifflände 5) and one near the stop Bezirksgebäude (Badenerstrasse 78)

 

Neni 

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Now while Le Cèdre (above) is definitely the place to go to for Lebanese food, I have to mention the delicious (!) hummus and falafels I had at the Neni (within the 25hours hotel Zurich). Some friends and I originally went there because we’d heard they do a great, veggie-friendly brunch. To me the brunch (around CHF 36) looked like a typical European hotel brunch, with Zopf, butter and jam, cheeses and meats, and I would have struggled to get a proper meal in. Luckily we were there just in time for the lunch menu (around 11.30 am), and we all ended up going for hummus and falafels while sharing super satisfying and crispy sweet potato fries. While I’d not specifically recommend it for brunch, the lunch dishes we tried were so delicious and I’d definitely order them again!

Locations: Zürich West (Pfingstweidstrasse 102; near the Toni-Areal) and Langstrasse 150

 

Vegan PizzaAvanti

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This (from the outside) not extremely impressive-looking Italian joint was a completely accidental discovery. When I was driving into Zurich to bring more of my things to my new place, we took a wrong turn. Somewhat grumpy by that point, my mood immediately changed for the better when I saw the words „vegan pizza“ – all irritation at the traffic and false turns vanished as I delighted at the prospect of a new place to try. I went there on Friday evening around 8 pm and was surprised to see the place completely crowded, with young couples and groups of friends sitting in the tiny dimly-lit restaurant, the TV on in the background, and a queue of people ordering takeaway while an authentically rotund, Italian-looking guy was preparing pizza after pizza. I was so impressed that this (non-vegan) Italian place had specifically designated vegan options. I went for a vegan vegetable pizza (they use a soy-based cheese) and enjoyed every bite. While no Pickywops or Fed by Watersensation you can get in London, this is definitely the place to hit up in Zurich for pizza cravings – both vegan and regular.

Location: Stationsstrasse 1 (near Kalkbreite/Wiedikon)

 

That’s it for part II of my Zurich recommendations – as vegan options are becoming more and more widespread here, I’m sure I’ll be back with another part in the not-too-distant future

Have a lovely evening and a great start to the week!

Celine

xoxo

Plant-Based Eating – Zurich, Part I

Good morning and happy Saturday!

This post is way overdue – It’s been a bit over 4 months since I’ve moved back to Switzerland, and I’ve had some great plant-based food I want to share with you! I’ll be doing this in several parts, with this one focusing just on Zurich – the largest city in Switzerland. (Check out Part II here).

Juicery 21

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I first tried this place when I came home the Christmas before last, and I absolutely loved it. It’s probably one of my favorite health food spots in Switzerland, as it serves delicious and creamy açai bowls (tip: ask for some peanut butter on top!), super comforting bowls of porridge (love the mango and passionfruit one) that you can get topped up with extra almond milk and really nice hot chocolate. They also have juices and some savory options like bagels and a quinoa bowl, but I always go for a breakfast-y option. Add to this the generous portions, reasonable prices and relaxed vibe, you have no reason not to go here on your next visit to Zurich 😉

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Roots & Friends

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This place had just opened before I moved to London, and it was the first fully plant-based restaurant I’d been to in Switzerland. They serve fresh, nourishing bowls and also do a good açai bowl (Juicery’s is my #1 favorite though). Besides the location near Zurich main station you can also find them close to Paradeplatz, as part of Balboa Bar & Gym (really awesome HIIT/strength classes!). The Balboa location also does a weekly Sunday brunch (for CHF 35, last time I checked).

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Hiltl

I already did a full blog post on the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe, so check that out if you want to know more. This place is veggie paradise, with all kinds of fantastic options, warm and cold. Every dish is clearly labeled, and most things are vegan (there are only some with dairy). I definitely recommend piling up your plate at the buffet, but there’s also a menu you can order from instead. There are several locations throughout Zurich and the original one (Sihlstrasse 28) also has the Hiltl Shop (see below) around the corner, where you can shop for Hiltl brand goodies, order a matcha latte or pick something up from the veggie butcher’s section 😉 (They also sell some UK goodies, like Trek and nakd bars, Rude Health mylks as well as great quality vegan chocolates from Naturkostbar and Löwdelights).

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Tibits

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Tibits is another awesome veggie place – very similar to Hiltl, to which it belongs, but buffet-only. If you have to choose between them, I’d definitely go for Hiltl, as the options are just that little bit better in my opinion, but a meal at Tibits is always a treat. There are quite a few Tibits throughout Switzerland (St Gallen, Basel, Lucerne, Winterthur), plus, as you may know if you live there, there are also two in London (one off Regent Street and a new one on Southwark Street, near the Tate Modern). They also do nice drinks, my most recent try being the rooibos cappuccino, which I can only recommend!

 

Elle ‘n’ Belle 

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This fully vegan restaurant is one of my favorite places I’ve been to here, which is why I’m so sad that it’s closing soon! If you have the chance you definitely should take it – the place has a really fun and relaxed rock ‘n’ roll vibe (try to bag the comfy armchairs by the window front) and both times I’ve been there I’ve loved every bite. I first went with my boyfriend for some burgers (his – the Manson Burger – was the best!) and another time I had “Vish” fingers (tasted like the real thing) with pumpkin mash and creamy spinach. So so good.

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Vegan Velo

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This little joint is located in the Seefeld area, near the lake, and will deliver any food you order before 10 am to you by bike. I once stopped by for the ‘cactus burrito’, which was yummy (and very spicy!!), but a bit small. Maybe it’s because I’d just come from a workout, but I could have eaten three of those things! Nevertheless, I’d definitely try more of their food – maybe I’ll order some to work sometime.

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Beetnut 

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This plant-based place offers healthy options, most of which are vegan (it’s possible to add things like eggs or cheese). I have slightly mixed feelings about this place, as my first two visits there left me feeling quite disappointed. I definitely do not recommend the açai bowl (go to Juicery 21 instead – cheaper and so much better!), which was watery and almost tasteless, and the “power bread” was nothing special. Why am I including this place here? I recently went back to try one of their savory bowls, and I absolutely loved it! ‘Khaled’s Favorite‘ is a bowl of quinoa, kale, aubergine, cauliflower, chickpeas, avocado, pomegranate, fresh mint, slivered almonds and lime – so delicious! I was initially a bit irritated by the fact that the white hummus sauce is not vegan (it contains yogurt), but the incredible tomato balsamic dressing completely made up for this. Conclusion: I’d go back for Khaled’s Favorite, and try other savory bowls – for breakfast options I’d go elsewhere.

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Gärtnerei

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This place focuses on fresh, nourishing ingredients and, while not fully plant-based, does offer vegan options. I’ve had their smoked tofu burger (with hummus and in a wholewheat bun) and, more recently, the ‘Fall by Fanny‘ bowl (black rice, pumpkin, carrots, purple cabbage, marinated tofu, fresh figs and mixed seeds), created by food blogger Fanny the foodie. It was a dream! Gärtnerei has several locations around Zurich as well as some stores.

 

Cupcake Affair 

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This cute little place is not vegan, however, there is a vegan cupcake every Tuesday as well as a daily vegan mini cupcake. When I was there I had a matcha cupcake (yummy, but could have had a stronger matcha taste) and a delicious soy milk matcha latte. It’s definitely a nice little place to warm up in and have a little treat. Other locations are: Aarau, Berne and Basel. Speaking of cupcakes, Michelle’s cupcakes has vegan ones every day – I haven’t been yet, but it’s definitely on my list!

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That’s it for today – I hope you enjoyed reading, and please let me know what you think of these places, and if you have any recommendations of your own!

Have a lovely weekend!

xoxo

P.S. For more information on vegan options around Zurich, definitely check out @vegansofzuri 🙂

 

 

 

Vegan Afternoon Tea in London

There’s something so indulgent about the whole ceremony, as time and troubles are forgotten over tea and tantalizingly tempting treats. Who doesn’t want to sit down and feel spoiled, the only dilemma being which delightful dainties to devour first!

While vegan and dairy-free options are increasingly being offered by traditional tea houses, when it comes to afternoon tea you don’t want to simply make due with potentially uninspired substitutes. You want to be wowed, oo-ing and ah-ing and savoring each blissful bite. Where can you get this experience?

Here are my recommendations for fantastic fully plant-based afternoon tea in London:

 

Livia’s Kitchen Cream-Free Cream Tea

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This was the first plant-based afternoon tea I had the pleasure of enjoying, and what a pleasure it was! (For my full account of the event click here). There was an absolute abundance of food, and I definitely made the most of it, tucking into three incredibly delicious scones with almond butter and chia jam, along with a chocolate cupcake, hummus and avocado filled sandwiches, maca oat cookies and raw millionaire bites. And the fact that  all guests were at one table created a wonderfully social atmosphere. This event will always have a special place in my heart, as it’s where I met my lovely friends Jordan from Leitchy Creates and Gemma.

[Note: everything is also gluten-free].

Dates: in the past they were held every couple of weeks, check the website for availability.

Price: definitely the priciest one on the list (I’m not aware of the exact current price, but in September I paid £35 – which was a reduced price at the time), however, there was also a goodie bag included.

 

Ethos

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Ethos was the perfect choice for when I went for afternoon tea with friends who were visiting from Switzerland. The regular menu is vegetarian (great for my omnivorous but not very meat-keen friend), then there is the gluten-free version (ideal for my gluten-intolerant friend) and the vegan one, which I was obviously happy about. [They don’t yet do vegan and gluten-free]. The items were distributed among two etageres, which created the feeling that we were all sharing in the experience together, instead of everyone tucking into their own menu. The highlight for me was the scones – which tasted like proper scones (the Livia’s Kitchen ones are delicious, but definitely not like traditional scones) – with a wonderful cashew clotted cream and raspberry jam.

Dates: Daily, between 3 and 5 pm (book at least 48 hours in advance)

Price: at £20, quite good value for money in my opinion

 

Lele’s

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This was the most recent tea I went to, with my wonderful fellow vegan foodie Kym (check out her Instagram for more vegan food places in London). Lele’s is a lovely little space in Lower Clapton, bright and relaxed, serving vegetarian and vegan food. It was the most traditional I’ve been to, with generous-sized scones, a buttery spread and jam (not chia, sadly, but still delicious) and avocado and beetroot sandwiches (with traditional white toast bread). The real stars, however, were the incredible cakes and patisserie items. The only thing that was missing for a chocoholic like myself was, of course, something chocolatey, especially as two of the tartlets were quite zesty. Overall, however, this was an absolute stunner of a vegan afternoon tea, and such a treat!

Dates: every Sunday from 12 – 4 pm (book in advance)

Price: £18 with tea (amazing price for the quantity and quality of the food!)

 

Cake & Cucumber

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And, finally, the most eccentric of the bunch (meant in the best way possible)! This African-inspired afternoon tea was bursting with exciting flavors and combinations such as savory cassava cakes and gram flour ‘omelettes’ with banana ketchup, charcoal cake and salted cacao & chilli bundt cake (the absolute winner in my eyes!). It was held at Tea Leaf, a cute little tea shop near Bethnal Green. The only thing that slightly detracted from the experience, in my opinion, was the ambience. While the little tables were dressed in beautiful African-themed cloths, the room felt a bit bare and not as cozy as the other locations. This is only a minor point, however, and I definitely recommend checking the website for further events – afternoon teas, supper clubs etc. for truly unique and delicious food!

Dates: check the website for upcoming events.

Price: £29.27

 

Further Recommendations:

Farmacy 

I haven’t tried this one myself, as they’ve only recently started offering afternoon tea. I absolutely love Farmacy, however, and can’t imagine that their afternoon teas are anything but amazing. Check the website for the menu, price and availability.

Delicously Ella 

This is another one I haven’t attended, yet recommend as worth considering, simply due to the general deliciousness of the food. They are held once a month and cost £30 without Prosecco (£36 with).

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or if you know any other great places for plant-based afternoon tea, wherever they may be! 🙂

xoxo

Leggero – An Evening of Light & Laughter

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Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of accompanying my lovely friend Leila, her equally lovely sister Sasha and the wonderful Catrina to the re-launch of a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Soho.

Formerly La Polenteria, Leggero serves delicious and innovative gluten-free Italian food. Italy, with all its pasta, pizza and bread, is pretty much synonymous with gluten, as owner Gabriele Vitali – an Italian with an obvious passion for what he does – joked. Seeing the gap in the market for catering to pasta-loving, gluten-avoiding individuals, the team embarked on a mission to create high quality Italian food for all to enjoy. This idea has gone beyond offering coeliacs an enjoyable dining experience, by making the kitchen and menu accommodating to people with various allergies and special dietary requirements. The fact that, minutes before his talk, we were enthusing about how refreshing it was to have such a restaurant where everyone could find something exciting on the menu and not have to worry about “being complicated”, is surely a testament to the success of Leggero’s mission.

While you certainly can find everything from unrefined sugar-free raw vegan to a meat eater’s paradise in London, it’s harder to find a restaurant where there is common ground for people with different preferences and requirements, i.e. where the carefree omnivore can enjoy, let’s say, lamb meatballs with mint and grilled butternut squash (as was served last night), while the gluten-free vegan can tuck into the courgette burger with mixed vegetables and homemade hemp bread muffin – and all from the same menu. This seems to me more important than ever in this age of ultra-individualism, where you can find all kinds of specific needs catered to, but, in the world of food at least, not necessarily at the same table.

At Leggero last night, we ended up with gluten-free Leila insouciantly dipping handmade artichoke, tomato and olive focaccia into oil and balsamic vinegar, dairy-intolerant Catrina having her (almond and orange) cake and eating it too, my plant-based self delighting in handmade sorghum and hemp tagliatelle (the culinary highlight of the evening for me!) and the omnivorous Sasha being in the happy position of sampling all the delightful dishes.

All this ties in perfectly with the restaurant’s new name – leggero, or light, as it means in English. Gabriele explained that the concept embodies not just “light” food, that makes us feel good, but also a light and happy way of life – something that couldn’t have come across any better in the wonderfully bright, intimate space, filled with the sounds of live music and laughter.

Let me conclude by once again thanking Leila for inviting me along and the lovely people at Leggero for having us. I can’t wait to go back for a big plate of delicious pasta!

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(This was the sorghum hemp tagliatelle – absolutely divine!)

Eat Smart Brunch at Farmopolis

 

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Can brunching be a hobby? I feel like that’s all I’ve been doing lately on the weekends, but what can a healthy-food-obsessed girl do if there are so many pleasingly plant-based places and exciting events to go to? When I found out about Niomi Smart’s brunch at Farmopolis I jumped at the chance to eat some more of her delicious Eat Smart food (I already got to sample some at her Q&A at Wholefoods in September) and I’m so glad I got my hands on a ticket – it was a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable way to spend part of my Sunday.

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The event started off with refreshing mocktails: Pina Coolada, Cucumber & Melon Muddler (what I went for) and Virgin Mary. Next we were served artisan-style rye toast with different types of chia jams: Strawberry, Orange & Apricot and Plum & Ginger, which were all incredibly tasty. My favorite was the Plum & Ginger, which is on page 57 of Eat Smart. Next was what was, for me, the star of the show: the Swiss Bircher Muesli (page 49). Being (half) Swiss I have had my fair share of Birchermüesli over the years, yet none of them vegan and none of them as yummy as this one! I will definitely be making this, maybe as a lunch (I don’t think I can ever wean myself off of my breakfast smoothie bowls and, hey, why should I!) or afternoon snack. It’s made with almond milk, oats, apple, lemon juice, cinnamon – which gives it a wonderful warming note – raisins, flax- and sunflower seeds. If you have the book I definitely recommend you give it a try!

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The final course was the full English (pages 62-63), consisting of tofu scramble, grilled tomatoes, garlic mushrooms and baked beans. Now, I’m not such a fan of savory dishes for breakfast or brunch and I was semi-considering asking for another bircher instead, but as the whole point was to try several different recipes from the book I went for it and I have no regrets! The flavors all harmonized really well – especially the scramble with the tomatoes and the delicious (!) baked beans with the mushrooms. It was a nice way to end an amazing brunch that left me feeling satisfied, yet energized instead of overly full and sluggish.

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The event was all the nicer thanks to the lovely hostess, Niomi. She’s just as warm and friendly as she comes across in her videos and it was great seeing her in a more relaxed setting with less people than back at the Whole Foods Q&A. What I also love about these events is the people you meet, as more often than not you end up having a lot in common! It was so nice to be surrounded by people also into plant-based eating and a healthy lifestyle in general 🙂

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Tip: check out the Farmopolis website for more interesting events. It’s a café, bar, cinema and event space and is also London’s first floating garden, rehousing plants from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It’s a really nice space to be in and there is so much going on there – this Tuesday, November 29th, for example, there is an event called “Wildlife Drawing: Miniature Pigs”, a drawing class where the subjects are mini pigs!! How cute is that? It was already sold out when I checked though, so I unfortunately won’t be posting about mini pigs any time soon…

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My favorite places to eat in London (Part II)

I promised you more great plant-loving places in London and here they are (check out part I, if you missed it). Again, these are in my eyes all a 10/10 and highly recommended!

JAZ AND JUL’S CHOCOLATE HOUSE

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This is maybe one of my favorite places ever -full stop. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago wile walking home and couldn’t resist a peek at the menu. Once I saw fully plant-based French toast and chocolate smoothie bowls I knew I had to go back. Since then I’ve gone every weekend, always taking someone new with me to share in the joy of Jaz and Jul’s.

Best for: brunch, or a rainy day (or any day!) hot chocolate 😉

The food: There is sweet and savory (both often containing some form of chocolate – doesn’t the cocoa nib and olive tapenade toast sound intriguing?) and everything from smoothie bowls to waffles and french toast. I’ve had the insanely good french toast (in a coconut, almond and banana batter, cinnamon and cocoa dusted, with berries, berry compote & maple syrup), tried some of the chocolate waffles with berry compote, coconut cream and granola), the chocolate avocado smoothie bowl, tried some of the berry & almond smoothie bowl (pictured below), and had the dark rye sourdough with Seggiano chocolate-hazelnut spread and fresh blueberries (pictured at very top) – and I’m still going back for more!

While it’s not fully vegan, there are so many great fully plant-based options that I do honestly find it difficult to decide what to get every time I go there. It doesn’t help that the counter displays numerous indulgent looking vegan baked goods (the chocolate espresso cake I had last time was so good)! What I love about this place besides the scrumptious food is the cozy atmosphere and the fact that it has genuine personality – something that has unfortunately become rare these days.

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The drinks: Their hot chocolate is amazing (13 different kinds, if I counted correctly) and all the flavors are available to be made with almond instead of regular milk. I started off with the single origin Brazil (70%) and then moved on to the Peru (75%), which I’ll be enjoying again in future, until I work up the guts to try the Madagascar (100%). There are also flavored ones with fabulous names such as Caramelicious, Mintchievous and Gingerbread, man! , the mix for which you can also buy in the cafe (they also sell other speciality chocolate items).

The location: 1 Chapel Market, London N1 9EZ.

 

 

THE MAE DELI

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This is an obvious one for anyone who knows me, as the Deliciously Ella books are what partially inspired and greatly facilitated by transition to a fully plant-based lifestyle. I followed the opening of the deli from afar, eagerly anticipating my move to London so I could go there myself. Since moving here I’ve been four times and absolutely loved both the food and the positivity exuding atmosphere. I think it’s safe to say that it’s one of my happy places 😉

Best for: casual lunch or tea and cake with friends or a healthy take away

The food: Central to the menu is the Mae bowl, which consists of four of the seasonal dishes you’ll see displayed behind the counter – you choose what you want and can have it to eat there or as a take away. I’ve eaten from the September menu and also recently tried the new dishes and have loved both. The new cauliflower falafels were a wonderful consolation for finding the sun dried tomato falafels gone – in fact, I think they’re even better! I also love the lemony butter bean hummus and the spiced sweet potato as well as the black rice salad that are currently on the menu. Make sure you leave room for dessert though, as there are lots of eye catching options to chose from. The Mae cake is divine and I’m told the carrot cake is incredible – I desperately need to try that. They also sell the Deliciously Ella Energy Balls, at a discounted price compared to stores (just recently had the Cashew & Ginger one, so good and perfect for this colder time of year!).

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The location: 21 Seymour Place, London W1H 5BH (a second one will be opening up on Weighhouse Street).

Note: If possible, go in the evenings as lunch time is usually very busy. In summer it’s no problem to grab a take away and enjoy it in nearby Hyde Park, but in winter this is obviously less ideal. Afternoons are also a good option – just stop by for some cake and a turmeric latte 🙂

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MILDRED’S

Best for: A yummy meal with non plant-based friends

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The foodMildred’s is a vegetarian restaurant with many delicious fully plant-based options, such as the fabulous rose harrisa hummus with pine nuts, spicy tempeh and chargrilled flatbread (a starter that I had with the mixed leaf salad with organic sprouts for a light yet incredibly satisfying meal – had to keep stopping myself from exclaiming how good it was, as the friend I was with is not a foodie and would probably have thought me strange had I kept interrupting her with ecstatic proclamations as to the divineness of my meal). The tastes and textures were amazing and the soft, hot, doughy flatbread was everything flatbread should be and more. The menu is full of other exciting vegan dishes, as well as some marked with the option of being vegan, such as the black turtle bean and squash burrito. I really need to go back and try the sweet potato fries and the turkish rose pistachio truffles! The place has also got a really nice and relaxed vibe – at least the one at King’s Cross did on a Sunday noon.

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The location: 200 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, London N1 9JP. There are also restaurants in Soho (45 Lexington Street, Soho, London W1F 9AN) and Camden (9 Jamestown Road, London NW1 7BW).

Hope you enjoyed reading about these places. Let me know what you think or what your favorite places for plant-based options are!

My favorite places to eat in London (Part I)

So I’ve been in London for over a month now and I feel fully qualified to share with you some amazing places for delicious, nourishing and exciting food! They are not all plant-based but all obviously have great fully plant-based options. Now, if you’ve read my post on recommendations for New York, you’ll have seen that I use a blueberry rating system (10 = the best). For this post I’m not going to bother, as they are all a 10/10!! In order not to make this a massive post I’ll be doing this in parts, so stay tuned for more restaurant recommendations 😉

FARMACY

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Best for: celebrating! 🙂 Eating here feels like a real treat, and if you have something special to celebrate, this place will make the occasion extra memorable.

The food: The main menu is full of amazing options such as salads, mezze, vegan pasta and pizza,  “earth bowls” (£1 of the price is donated to Drop4Drop, an organization funding sustainable clean water solutions) and yummy sides, including sprouted grains, hummus, steamed greens and sweet potato fries.  I opted for the Mexican Bowl (one of the earth bowls), which consisted of sprouted coriander rice, romaine, guacamole, frijoles, tomao ceviche salsa (so fresh, spicy and flavorsome!), salsa and “sour cream” topped with purple potato mash, corn chips & chipotle mayo. There were so many interesting components in that bowl and they all tasted amazing in their own way while still complementing each other. It was a veritable feast. My boyfriend went for the Farmacy Burger (millet, black bean & mushroom burger served with garlic aioli, goji ketchup, avocado, pickles, tomato & potato chips served in a wholemeal vegan bun – which can be ordered gluten-free). But seriously, let’s talk dessert. The highlight without a doubt was the fully plant-based and refined sugar-free Nice Cream Brownie Sundae (brownie served with vanilla nice cream, seasonal fruits, raw cacao and housemade maca caramel). This did not taste healthy, let me tell you! It tasted sensationally sinful and every bite had us in raptures. This was hands down the best and most extravagant fully plant-based dessert I’ve ever had and it left me feeling happy and energized hours later.

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The drinks: Along with the sundae I had a hot chocolate (the first in years!) – we were celebrating, afterall 😉 It was made with almond milk, cacao powder, dates, cinnamon, vanilla and was the perfect indulgent accompaniment to the sundae. Besides smoothies, juices and lattes Farmacy also offers “Farmaceutical Syringe Shots”, which are amazingly healthy sounding shots served in an actual syringe. My boyfriend couldn’t resist the novelty and had the “Melt Away” one (gingko, turmeric, gotu kola, garcinia, milk thistle and cucumber juice – not going to pretend I know what everything is!); definitely a fun way to end your meal.

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The location: 74 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5SH

Note: They do not take reservations, so you may have to wait a bit, depending on the time you go. We went for lunch on a Sunday at around 1.30 pm and got a table just after 2pm. If, like my boyfriend, you’re too hungry and need some sustenance while waiting, check out the nearby Yogland, (the green chia bowl was good!) 😉

REDEMPTION

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Best for: date night or drinks and a meal with friends

The food: All dishes are vegan, gluten- and refined sugar-free, fully in line with their cheeky motto of Spoil Yourself Without Spoiling Yourself 😉 The menu may not appear extensive, but you’ll still be spoilt for choice! Everything sounds and looks intriguing. My first time there I had the raw courgette spaghetti tossed in basil and pumpkin seed pesto, rocket and cherry tomatoes, topped with brazil nut “parmesan”, which was really indulgent. For some reason I was expecting a meager little portion and was therefore positively surprised to get a plate stacked high with courgetti and lots of wonderfully flavorsome pesto. My friend went for the Tokyo salad (brown rice and avocado salad with cucumber, radish, chilli, hijiki seaweed, an (incredible!) citrus-miso dressing and sesame seeds). When my boyfriend visited me last weekend I knew I had to take him there – solidifying my status as girlfriend-with-impressive-knowledge-of-great-places-to-eat. This time I went for the maki rolls platter – an enticing tray of maki rolls filled with quinoa, avocado, enoki, sesame seeds and micro amaranth shoots. I also had some of my boyfriend’s asparagus black rice risotto, which more than justified its recommendation and high praise by the waiter. It had a wonderful flavor that I can only somewhat lamely describe as unique. The food at Redemption  tastes like nothing you’ve ever tasted before – it surprises and teases and highly pleases! I can also recommend the nibble platter, with amazing kale chips, and the raw chocolate mousse (made with avocado) with cashew cream.

The drinks: all non-alcoholic, with fun names and interesting ingredients. I tried some of the (oh no, I’ve forgotten the name!!) one with beetroot and orange, which was really refreshing, but I’ll definitely have to go back and try some more.

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Locations: 6 Chepstow Road, London W2 5 BW (the one I went to) and 320 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR.

Note: You can find a sample menu on their website and most of the dishes and drinks on there I saw offered in the restaurant. We were told the menu is about to change though, which means new exciting – and seasonal – options will be offered!

THE GATE

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Best for: a nice evening out with family or friends

The food: Everything at The Gate is vegetarian and the menu focuses on lots of wonderful fresh veggies. The first time I went to eat here I ordered the Mexican-inspired sweet corn and cilantro fritters, accompanied with salsa, avocado and beans – a wonderful harmony of tastes and textures (the fritters were so fluffy!). I’ve also had the Green Dragon (salad of glazed smoked tofu, avocado, sweet potato, red cabbage, pak choi, daikon, heritage carrot, peppers with a teriyaki and sesame dressing), which was fresh and light but packed with amazing flavor. The portions here are maybe a bit on the smaller side, but that just means you have more room for dessert, which is a great thing at this place! Vegan banoffee pie anyone?? This was literally one of the best (closely following the epic Farmacy sundae) vegan desserts I’ve ever had. It was utterly divine and I could not stop making noises of appreciation and wonder with each bite. Everything from the caramelized banana and banana coulis to the caramel-y base was scrumptious and the top layer of the dessert was soooo incredibly smooth and silky. It was a dream.

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The location: 370 St John St London EC1V 4NN (The Gate Islington); there are also restaurants in Hammersmith (51 Queen Caroline Street, London w6 9QL) and – as I just found out this minute – there will be one in Seymour Place (22-24 Seymour Place, London W1H 7NL) from December 1st onwards.

Note: Make a reservation! This place is always packed. The staff was kind enough to give my boyfriend and I the couch when we stopped by spontaneously 😀 comfy, but a bit difficult to eat with the low table (but hey, great food, cozy atmosphere – what more do you need?)

Hope you enjoyed this and please let me know what you think if you go to any of these place – I’d love to know 🙂

Delicious plant-based food in New York

I was in New York for a few days in the middle of August this year and – my first time in NY as an eager plant-eater – I was keen to see what the big apple had to offer in terms of healthy, whole plant-based foods. I was lucky enough to stay with a friend, so I didn’t eat out every night, but also enjoyed some simple meals at her apartment. Healthy food is expensive, I discovered. Probably not so surprising for most people, but visiting from Switzerland, a notoriously expensive country for eating out, I did have some naive hopes that I could have my açai bowl and eat it too (while feeling good about the price). Regardless, here are some places I ate at and would definitely recommend if you’re in NY or planning to visit. They are not all fully plant-based, but they all have good plant-based options. Before we sink our teeth into them let me just say that I will be awarding them blueberries, 10 being, obviously (the more blueberries the better, right?), the best.

Beyond Sushi Version 2The food: The name already gives this away – sushi, but 100% plant-based sushi. When I mentioned this to my friend she wasn’t very excited – vegan sushi probably conjured up images of boring cucumber rolls and not much else. Well, there was not a single cucumber roll in sight. The menu had only wonderfully unusual and creative sounding rolls, such as „Sunny Side“ (black rice, braised fennel, sun-dried tomato and avocado topped with butternut squash and almond pesto), which all look like works of art – on your plate and hung up on the walls as large printed images. It was tough making a choice but I went for the „Spicy Mang“ (black rice, avocado, mango and English cucumber topped with spicy veggies and toasted cayenne sauce) and also tried some of my friend’s „Chic Pea“ (black rice, roasted eggplant, artichoke and English cucumber topped with saffron chickpea purée and parsley with tahini sauce). Besides the 8 different kinds of sushi rolls they also serve soups, side salads such as seaweed and kimchi, rice bed salads (bowls of black rice topped with greens, various toppings and sauces), rice paper wraps and noodle soups. Besides my fabulous rolls I also had a “green root” noodle salad (green tea noodles, seaweed salad, roasted almonds, sesame seeds, parsley and cilantro with ponzu sauce), which was absolutely delicious. It was a great meal that was almost as pleasing to the eye as to the taste buds. You might be thinking this sounds like some seriously expensive sushi, but it was amazingly affordable: I paid only around $13 (water was free) for the meal. In Switzerland you would probably get 6 measly little cucumber rolls and some water for that price.Version 2

Location: I was at the Midtown one (62 W 56th St.), but there is also one at Union Square (229 E14th St.) and Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue). The Midtown one was quite small and looked more like a takeaway place, so not exactly a fancy venue or anything, but it was relaxed, bright and full of colorful, mouthwatering pictures of sushi rolls.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 9/10

 

Souben 

The food: This place is all about natural, organic, macrobiotic food in traditional Japanese style. I had to look up what macrobiotic means, but it’s basically a nutritional philosophy that revolves around balanced, seasonal and unrefined food to promote physical and spiritual health. The food at Souben is all about fresh vegetables, grains and plant protein, such as beans, tofu and tempeh. I went for the Macro Plate, which is an “ideal balance of steamed greens, vegetables, brown rice, beans and hijiki seaweed” with a sesame vinaigrette. I have to say that the food was tasty and the whole atmosphere very calming. It was around 2pm when I ate there, so there wasn’t much of a hustle and bustle and just knowing that I was eating something health-promoting and based on traditional principles made me feel good. I might mention at this point that I’ve been suffering from chronic stomach problems for several years now and 99% of the time I have symptoms in the evening, before, during and/or after dinner. On that particular day, I was symptom-free after lunch all the way till I went to bed. Coincidence? Maybe. But either way, it was an interesting and beneficial experience.img_6403Location: There’s one in Soho (210 Sixth Avenue at Prince St), which is where I went after some Soho shopping, and another one at 326 East 6th St, between 1st and 2nd Avenue).

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 8/10 (My meal didn’t excite my taste buds quite as much as the one at Beyond Sushi and the overall style of the place felt a bit muddled to me somehow. The atmosphere was good though and the servers friendly).

 

Franchia Vegan Cafe Version 2The food: Korean, vegan and delicious. That’s all you need to know. Among other things there are kale dumplings, salads, noodle dishes and something called bibimbap – a popular Korean rice dish (choice of white or brown) with vegetables, tofu, tempeh or soy “meat” and various sauces. I went for the Kale and Brown Rice Noodles in Black Bean Sauce, which was an absolute dream. I ate it in a slow, semi-meditative state, enjoying each blissful bite of deep, satisfying flavour. (The extremely relaxed tempo had more to do with my lack of chopstick skills concerning the slippery noodles, but added to the zen-like experience. About half way through though, once my white shirt was already spattered in black bean sauce, I admitted defeat and shamefacedly asked for a fork and spoon.) To accompany my meal I sipped their Organic Lotus Tea, which was wonderfully soothing. They have a very interesting selection of teas, which I would definitely recommend checking out if you’re there.

Location: 12 Park Avenue. I would recommend a reservation, as I wasn’t able to get a table the first time I wanted to eat there, which was for lunch on a weekday. I had no problem getting a table at around 6pm though on a Sunday evening, when I needed an early meal.

Blueberriesblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 10/10

 

Saigon Market The food: This Vietnamese place serves up a large variety of dishes – both with meat and vegetarian. I hadn’t researched this place, but met up with some friends here, one of whom had discovered this place while on a particularly bad date. The menu has a section of vegetarian dishes, such as Curry Tofu and Bamboo Steamed Vegetables (which could be paired with a side of brown rice for a healthy plant-based meal). Under the section labelled “Noodles” you’ll also find some fully veggie options, such as the flavor-packed Rice Vermicelli with vegetables, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts and a delicious sauce, which is what I went for. It was a huge bowl and I wasn’t able to finish it, but at the same time it was a very light meal, not making me feel sluggish at all.

Location: 93 University Place (near Union Square)

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 7/10 (The meal itself was delicious, but I’m taking points off because the atmosphere wasn’t particularly warm or modern or exciting, and also due to the fact that there weren’t as many interesting plant-based options as at the previous restaurants.)

 

Whole Foods Takeaway img_6386Since I was staying only 5 minutes away from the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle and have been a fan of this place for years, I came here at least three times – maybe four. It’s perfect for a yummy and nutritious takeaway and what better place to enjoy it at than Central Park, which is literally across the street. (The first time there we ate at the food court area inside, however, as it was just too ridiculously hot and humid to venture outside).The food: While the takeaway area is quite large, with options such as sushi, sandwiches, wraps, pre-packaged salads and a warm buffet, I always made a beeline straight for the cold buffet area where I’d start with some greens – a mix of spinach, rocket and mesclun and add things like quinoa, seaweed, beans, different kinds of hummus, grilled veg and drizzle some balsamic on top. You pay by weight and my large box was between $8-13 (once, after a particularly impressive amount of walking I carbed it up a bit more by adding a whole wheat bagel).Version 2Location: 10 Columbus Circle is the one I went to and there are two more: 250 7th Avenue and 95 E Houston St.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 8/10 (It’s invaluable for putting together a healthy meal according to your preferences without having to be fussy. I did, however, have some extremely smoky baba ghanoush once, which completely ruined everything it touched, and the quinoa lacked flavour. In terms of veggie choices for on the go, you can’t beat it though, in my eyes).

 

Juice Generation img_6107This chain was also conveniently located, so I ended up coming here three times during my stay. Besides the actual food I enjoyed the atmosphere in there, even though it was only a take away place. It’s super clean, colourful and fresh – you can see and smell the ingredients they use and everything in there exudes health and positivity.The food: Açai bowls! There are six different kinds: PB Açai, Amazing Green, Protein Revolution, Almond Butter Bliss, Aloha Açai and XO Coco. I tried the first three and they were all incredible and beautifully decorated with fresh fruit and toppings such as cacao nibs and hemp seeds. If I had to pick a favourite it was probably Amazing Green (acai, almond milk, avocado, banana, blueberries, hemp granola – this stuff is so good! – hemp seeds, kale and spinach). It had just enough subtle sweetness and I loved the green colour and the feeling of additional virtue due to the fact that I was having my greens for breakfast. The peanut butter was, in one word: indulgent. If I’d have to fault it I’d say there was too much peanut butter (if that’s even possible!).Version 2Besides açai bowls this place also has wonderful sounding smoothies and juices as well as health shots, vegan lunches such as the Macro Bowl, sushi, Jackfruit Tacos and a Kale Quinoa Burger – I have to admit, though, that I was too much enthralled with the açai bowls to have the attention span for much else – and interesting baked goods (vegan matcha baked donuts anyone?).Version 2

Location: There are quite a few, so I’ll only list the one I went to: 979 Eighth Avenue btw 57th and 58th – check out their website for locations near you.

Blueberries: blueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberryblueberry 10/10

Restaurant Review – Swiss Edition: Hiltl

I love love love coming to this place for a delicious, healthy yet indulgent meal. It has become a bit of a birthday tradition and I’ve also treated friends to lunch or dinner here for special occasions. Eating out in Switzerland – especially Zurich – is generally more expensive than in some other countries, so for the average student like me, a visit to Hiltl is a wonderful treat, to be savored moment to moment.

It’s a vegetarian restaurant, so not completely plant-based (for example there are curries with paneer). Most dishes are fully plant-based though, so you won’t feel limited at all if you don’t eat any animal products. Also, all dishes have labels, so just look for the “v” for vegan symbol if you’re unsure.

Fun fact # 1: Founded in 1898, Hiltl holds the Guinness World Record for being the “oldest continuously open vegetarian restaurant in the world”.

Fun fact # 2: Restaurant by day, Hiltl turns into a club by night. Just don’t show up in fur – you won’t be allowed to enter!

The food: While you can order à la carte (can’t understand those people!), my recommendation is that you fill up your plate at the enticing and wonderfully colorful buffet. There is an array of cold dishes ranging from exotically flavored salads to lentil and chickpea dishes, bowls of quinoa, vats of good old guacamole and hummus etc. etc. Above the cold options are the warm dishes, where you’ll find falafels, vegetable samosas and other delights. To the side of this buffet area there are hot dishes of curries, rice, sweet potato mash and much more! Oh and don’t forget: you get a complimentary little bread roll or slice of pita bread with your meal that you can pick from a basket (usually includes a glutenfree option).

For dessert you’ll be spoiled for choice again. Besides fresh fruit there are various vegetarian and vegan (soy-based) mousses, such as chocolate, mango and passion fruit, cakes and brownies (at my most recent birthday dinner there I had a vegan sweet potato brownie so good!) and crumbles. To one side of the room there are also glass jars filled with various nuts, seeds, dried fruit and granola. 

My favorite dish: definitely the cold orecchiette pasta salad with a tomato-balsamic dressing, olives and tofu (see picture below). It’s divine and I never miss it. Other favorites that usually make their way onto my plate are the falafels, the seaweed salad, hummus, green beans with walnuts and some fresh mango.

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How does it work? You take a small or large plate and pay by weight. To give you an idea of the price: my large plate usually racks up around CHF 25, while my boyfriend pays between CHF 35-45. My sweet potato brownie, chocolate mousse and mango were around CHF 7.

Bonus: Free water! This is something thrifty students will definitely appreciate, as it’s the exception in Switzerland. Unlike the US where you are always served water free of charge, in Switzerland you’ll probably raise an eyebrow or two if you ask the waiter for tap water in a good restaurant and your request may even be turned down.

Location: I always go to “Haus Hiltl” which is located at Sihlstrasse 28 in central Zurich, close to the Orell Füssli bookstore. There is also “Hiltl Sihlpost” at Europaallee 1A, which opened earlier this year. If you’d like to enjoy this awesome plant-based food with a view, why not check out “Hiltl Dachterrasse” at Bahnhofstrasse 88?

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Extra tip: If you like Hiltl you’ll also want to check out tibits, the slightly more casual sister of Hiltl. The vegetarian pay-by-weight buffet joint was founded by three Swiss brothers in collaboration with the owners of Hiltl. Today there are eight tibits restaurants in Switzerland and… there’s one in London as well! As I’m moving to London this September I was pleasantly surprised to discover this. If I get homesick I’ll know where to go 😉