Set in the heart of London’s West End, Ethos restaurant (with their tagline ‘Deliciously Different’) exploded onto the London restaurant scene in September 2012, fast becoming renowned as one of the capital’s best options for meat-free dining. So when the opportunity arose to take a seat and of course over-eat with the team, how could we possibly say no? Read on for our review and discover the ethos behind Ethos.
Vegetarianism could’ve perhaps at one time been categorized as an extreme lifestyle choice, reserved only for a certain subculture of activists. However, over the last few years, this once perceived alternative dietary measure has exploded into the culinary mainstream, giving birth to a gastronomical revolution and societal re-education of the delights and deliciousness of meat-free living. Demonstrative of this has been the increase in diversity of the meat-free ‘eating out experience’ and the London restaurant scene has never been so thrilling a place for any person looking to explore this healthy, nutritious and downright delectable cuisine!
To explore this creative world of nutritional wonder further, it seemed only fitting that Keep Fit Kingdom did some investigatory work. Keen and hungry for some healthy grub, we wasted no time at all, diving head-first into our first experience, at one of London’s most innovative and exciting offerings into the marketplace in recent years – Ethos Foods.
Leaving the stuffy caves of the London underground, I was promptly propelled into the heaving swarms of Londoners, battling their way through the mid morning mayhem. Head down, march on, drowning in the grey shadow of the concrete jungle, I quickly joined the weaving masses. But no longer than 5 minutes after my immersion into the hustle and bustle, I turned my last corner and in the middle of East Castle Street, situated just behind the chaos of Oxford Circus, I was greeted by the enormous glass windows of Ethos Restaurant.
Having been foretold of the gloriously fairytale-like experience to expect, I couldn’t wait to step through the not so secret doors to London’s very own Narnia and see if the insides would in fact, live up to every expectation I had.
In terms of setting the scene and tone, Ethos has well and truly nailed it, with the interiors and visuals demonstrating the flawless connection between nature’s raw beauty and the nutritional, natural food she provides. Swamped in natural light, the woodland like setting, was exquisitely brought to life by real life trees jutting straight out of the flooring and beautiful, wild flowers lining the walls. Stepping over the glowing gold face of the infamous Ethos logo stag face, which was etched into the tiles, I could finally see how Ethos had carved out a reputation for being one of the most enchantingly magical, dining experiences around. Ah yes and then there was….THE FOOD!
Positioned on tall tables in the middle of the floor space, the display of brilliant, vibrant colours looked more artistic installation than edible array, but thankfully edible they were. Operating a pay-by-weight eating experience, customers are invited to indulge in a variety of self-service delights, with bowls upon bowls of mouthwatering and enticing treats, teasing you to pile your plate high. Creative selections that inspire and spoil for choice in every way imaginable; cultural influence, flavour, texture, taste, colour and of course quantity. All meat-free and stacked with nature’s best goodies, catering for all manner of special dietary requirements with a vast range of refined sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, veggie and 100% vegan options too.
Five minutes in and no sooner had my taste buds begun to water, I was greeted by the Ethos marketing manager Kyle, who with delightful cheeriness whisked me away to introduce me to the rest of the team. My rumbling tummy was thankfully distracted by the tidal-wave of good vibes and infectious smiles delivered by the rest of the staff who proceeded to bowl me over with their obvious enthusiasm and passion for the business. What also struck me was the surprising education I received from this group of well-informed, intelligent workers, who seemed to relish in educating me about the health, well-being and energy-accelerating benefits of meat-free living.
After my first blast of nutritional schooling, next on the agenda was an absolute treat of a chat, with none other than the head chef, Casaba Gagna. Like the rest of the Ethos crew, Casaba welcomed me with the warmest smile and most enthusiastic demeanor and for the next 30 minutes, went on to amaze me with his encyclopaedic knowledge of nutrition, food values and ethical viewpoints on using locally sourced organic produce.
As Casaba and I conversed, he explained that despite the distinct lack of meat on the menu, Ethos makes no claims to be a purist ‘vegetarian restaurant’. In fact, the Ethos methodology centers around encouraging its customers to undertake a “flexitarian” lifestyle, whereby your diet is encouraged to be primarily vegetarian with occasional eating of meat or fish. This approach seems to have had broader market appeal, engaging with a brand new customer base, one brimming with non-traditional veggie food followers, who perhaps have never considered meat-free eating before.
After my engrossing and interesting conversations there really was only one thing left to do on my Ethos agenda and that was…..EAT!
As a self-confessed, health food nut and non-meat eater myself, I could not wait to get my chops round some of the tremendously tasty morsels I had already spied. From vegan Shepherd’s pie, to kale and quinoa salad, protein bomb slices, to dairy free cheesecakes, I genuinely could not hide my utter exhilaration as I piled my plate high and began my gastronomical adventure with gusto. Flavour, texture and spice so beautifully transformed into exquisitely scrumptious bites, each one more flavoursome and heavenly than the last. But despite the volumes of deliciousness I was able to cram in (believe me there was a lot!), I was left with no feeling of gluttony or guilt, as each offering was so ridiculously healthy, it felt like I was detoxing my body from starter to dessert.
Despite my efforts of trying to eat as many things as possible, my stomach could only handle so much and alas my visit had to come to an end. Begrudgingly I said my farewells, to people, the trees, the secret garden, the hidden wilderness of natural goodness and stepped once more out into the starkly contrasting urban landscape outside.
As I rejoined the swarms once more, I couldn’t help but think what a peaceful and charming wonderland Ethos provides. Perhaps the old saying does ring true ‘You eat with your eyes first’ because the completely immersive experience of Ethos certainly had me salivating from first approach. However, once inside and eye eating complete, I could only surrender to the creativity, innovation and undeniably appetizing delights of this excitingly refreshing dining experience.
So If you want to test out some healthy yet delicious, meat-free food, Ethos certainly fits the bill. Where it stands out against its competitors of course, is the alluring escapism you can experience here, when dining amidst the inspiringly creative faux alfresco backdrop; an entirely magical and dreamy, midsummer-night fairytale-fantasy all rolled into one.
Ethos Restaurant is situated at Eastcastle Street, Westminster, London. Open 7-days a week and welcomes all; man, woman, child, foodies, newbies, flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans. For more info visit Ethos’ main site, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!