I don’t mind admitting I was a little anxious about visiting Titbits, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant and bar, as there was no fishy safety net to catch me, no tender breast of chicken to soften the fall if I could not go through a meal without the flesh of an animal passing my lips. I invited Fiona to come and hold my hand. She is a good friend and a vegetarian of many years standing, so I felt safe in her company.
Titbits is run on a buffet system with the food in a central island that gets topped up regularly, and drinks ordered at the bar. The novelty here is that the food is costed by weight, so you join a queue of people placing their plates on the scales and charged accordingly. The chefs at Titbits obviously know what they are doing and are not just cooking vegetables and pulses merely as an accompaniment to something else, but as the main attraction.
I soon became quite excited when I saw the many creative dishes on offer, like a kid in a sweet shop. What I did like was the opportunity to sample small portions of dishes I’ve never tried before knowing I could go back for more if I really liked it. Titbits gave me the chance to discover new foods and fruits. Who knew that Persimmon was so delicious? Even more so with Walnuts and a Sambal Dressing. And now I’ve actually tried the product that non-vegetarians always use for mocking purposes and found that quinoa is very nice, especially curried with cranberries.
We began with a cold plate to start, plus a beverage; me having a Freedom Pale Ale and Fiona a Virgin Mojito, which she emphasised was excellent. ‘Make sure you write that down,’ she said. And seeing as Fiona can be a bit scary, I did!
The two of us then circled the island of goodies with our plates. It was carnival of colour. Nothing looked boring. Hardly anything was served plainly but with a spice or herb, a berry or a nut. Fiona sprinkled sunflower seeds over her plate, so I copied her. At our table we both agreed that the artichokes were delicious. Titbits changes like the TARDIS once you enter. The buffet is the first thing you encounter before you are led to a conservatory at the rear where natural light can pour in to the dining area below in the daytime, and which is mood lit at night – It is where couples were sitting over bottles of wine and small sharing plates. It is a place for conversation as there is no music playing – Or, if there is, it was barely discernible. Architects have designed something extremely modern in an old building.
Over drinks and food we chatted about shared friends, work, drinking responsibly and not having the Sicilian wine. After a decent interval of gossip and digestion we returned to the buffet to choose some of the hot dishes. There were spicy dishes in tomato sauce; sweet and sour vegetables, squash curries; there were basic potato wedges, onion rings, steamed rices, samosas, spinach and kale falafel, pasta dishes and bean delights, and all looking rather superb under the lighting. Everything had its own unique flavour and some tastes were quite intriguing, but not once did I get meat withdrawal symptoms; nothing seemed tired or been-there-done-that, but new and fresh. I found the Brussel Sprouts with onion and pepperoncini oil decidedly special, and a step up from boringly boiled sprouts. And all the food went surprisingly well with a Chilean Malbec, but no surprise there…
Of course we had to try the desserts, and I was somewhat more taken with the Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake than the Molten Chocolate Cake, which was more like rock than molten. Those who have already made the leap to vegetarianism will know of Titbits. Carnivores, however, should not be afraid to go for lunch or dinner there. It doesn’t hurt. In fact it is quite a pleasant experience.
Titbits, 124 Southwark Street, SE1 0SW
0207 202 8370
Mon – Wed 7.30am – 10pm; Thur – Fri 7.30am – 11pm; Sat 10.30am – 11pm; Sun 10.30am – 10pm