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 😉