Tibits (London)

Having had a good whinge about a nearby v*gan restaurant recently, I've nothing but good things to say about Tibits.

Though I know Soho well; the other side of Regents Street is unknown territory. Therefore, whilst I've known of Tibits existence for a number of years, I've never randomly walked past and eaten there before.

I'd planned to visit October Cafe, but it was 9am and I didn't fancy waiting around for it to open at 10. I wanted to try somewhere else new, so found Tibits' location via google.

The format is similar to Aloka in Brighton - fill a plate then get charged by weight. Everything is vegetarian and the majority marked as vegan.

I'd been up for several hours by this point, so had an early brunch, costing a reasonable £6.40:

I've a feeling that they've more hot things available at lunchtime, but I was pretty happy with what I got.

I can't remember what everything was; I had a spoonful of each thing that looked vaguely good. There was definitely a black quinoa thing, some dhal, a fig and tofu salad, cucumber and tofu, a bean thing and some pasta. It tasted pretty decent and was all very fresh.

They've put a bit more effort into decor than most places, but whilst flock damask is totally my thing, I'm not 100% sure that the overall effect is to my taste:

I didn't have room for dessert, so got an apple turnover to take away - again reasonably priced at £1.70.

I took a photo, but I was on a train by this point and the dodgy lighting makes it look a lot less appetizing than it was!

The pastry was as close to perfect as I've ever had. They could have been slightly more generous with the filling and for absolute perfection; included some custard too, but now I'm really picking!

So, Tibits hasn't wowed me enough to be in my top 10, but I'll certainly return and would suggest it to others.

The food is above average value for money - you just won't find yourself laying awake at night longing to eat there again, that's all.

Mildred's & Mrs Marengo's

When I first went to Mildred's in 2004 I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the experience. The food was so-so and service truely absymal.

I had a better experience in 2008 (including a mushroom pie which inspired me to make my own, much better version), but it's not been on my list of places to rush back too.

In all honesty, it's not a bad restaurant. The food's alright and if it were the only choice in the town I lived then I'd probably go a few times a year. London's got too much choice though, including far better value for money options.

I decided to give it another try recently, simply for dessert after visiting Beatroot for mains.

Service this time round was quite friendly. I sat at the front by the bar and despite the uncomfortable metal seating the experience was quite pleasant.

As my eyes are bigger than my tummy I ordered myself a couple of things and a soya latte.

The raspberry truffle torte was pretty good. It'd got the right balance of creamy / chocolatey / sweet:

As a big wedge on a plate with no accompaniment though the overall effect was lacking something - at £6.40 I'd expect a bit more in the way of specialness - homemade iceream, a biscuit etc.

The banana tofu cheesecake really did taste like it contained tofu (e.g. not in a good way). It was like I'd been transported back to the 80s (infact I'm pretty sure it's an adapted cheesecake recipe from Baskerville's 1986 "The Vegan Cookbook"):

The sliced banana tasted good though and appart from that unmistakable taste of silken tofu; the overall dessert was alright.

On their website they have listed "banana tofu cheesecake with coconut brittle and pina colada icecream". If it'd included the brittle and icecream it'd have been a pretty decent dessert, worth the money. Without it though it just lacked.

The bill came to £16.95 including their "optional" 12.5% service charge (which the first time I refused to pay as the service was so appalling).

£17 for 2 desserts and a coffee is understandable in a premium restaurant like Terre-a-Terre, but Mildred's isn't in the same league as far as I'm concerned. Whilst it's above average, it's still very much in the average camp.

In short: their food isn't worth the prices they charge.

As I walked back to the tube I noticed Mrs Merango's on the same street, which I'd heard about but not visited (nor realised it was located so close). I decided to get a couple of cakes to take home for @cherrivalentine.

I immediately realised that it was the same stuff as Mildreds, but at less than half the price!

I got another slice of the raspberry truffle thing and a carrot cake, both of which made it the 100 mile journey home in more or less one piece:

(at first I thought it was a slice of tomato, but was pleased when it turned out to be orange).

I really enjoyed the carrot cake and would buy it again. Both tasted better with a scoop of icecream.

My advice? Skip Mildred's and go to Mrs Marengo's for dessert. It's the same stuff, at much more realistic prices.

Beatroot (London)

I've been going to Beatroot for more than 10 years. In this time the format's remained the same....I'm not even convinced they've changed their menu.

I like it though - it works for me: wide choice of things to eat, all piled together in the same box. By the time you're half way through they're all mashed in with one another, but that's part of the fun.

Value's good, currently about £6.50 for a large box (I didn't bother looking at price of smaller options!). They don't mark the vegan items but if you ask they'll point out those that are unsuitable. There's limited seating, but several parks near by.

I probably wouldn't go there too regularly if I spent more time in London, as I expect it'd get a bit boring after a while. It's good for occassional lunch if you're in a hurry though (or shitfaced on rum, wearing a santa suit - don't ask).

Top tip: If you want more than a couple of sausage rolls; ask for some first, then again at the end. They seem to scrimp on them otherwise.

I always go with some shepherds pie and a bit of pasta, then try other things each time.

I've had cake from there in the past, but it wasn't amazing. I'd recommend visiting Mrs Marengos for dessert after.

Madeira Guide

There's not a lot of info online about availability of vegan food in Madeira, so I'm posting here in the hope it'll find its way into Google and be useful to someone in the future.

@cherrivalentine and I visited last week and had a fabulous time.

Having spoken to various people who've been before & following a trip to portugal a couple of years ago; I felt it prudent to pack some essentials with me. The general consensus seems to be that there's nowhere to eat out. We went self catering so this didn't overly bother us.

I took non-liquid/paste/jel things to eat on the plane (such as nakd bars), then tofu, cheezly/scheese, fake meat and other things in my hold luggage that I assumed I wouldn't find when I arrived. In hindsight I'd also have taken some packets of ready made sauce/curry paste (indian, chinese etc), just to make meals easier. I'm lazy like that!

I'd recommend also taking pepper/salt/herbs/oil/ketchup etc in suitable portioned containers. Not because you won't find them on the island but because you'll end up buying full jars and not be able to take it home with you at the end.

In terms of things you can buy, I suggest you visit Funchal on the first day and stock up at Bio Locos. You'll probably want to go to Funchal at some point anyway for the cable car/toboggan (both worth doing). It's not a big town - you can walk from one side of the shopping district to the other in 10-15min.

Here's the hawl we got, costing about €85:

It included a couple of loaves of sourdough bread (the sesame seed was nicer than the plain) and this rather bizarre turd shaped thing:

(which thankfully tasted better than it looked). We ate it on bread, but you can probably cook it somehow.

They had fresh ravioli too, which was nicer than the stuff sold in the UK. We got a few things which I wouldn't recommend, like a big bag of chocolate biscuits that tasted like bourbons without the cream.

They've a mix of UK / Portuguese / other origin products, including quite a few I've not seen before. The person working there (owner?) spoke fluent english and was happy to translate ingredients lists.

Pricing is reasonable. There's obviously a premium (reflecting the fact it's been imported), but it's not outrageously so.

You can expect to find egg free dried pasta, rice, jars of tomato sauce, long life soya milk, soya desserts etc in larger supermarkets. There's a pretty big Continente half way along the on the south coast. I wasn't at all impressed by the quality of their fruit and veg though - you may be better off with markets. Also, there was a complete lack of asian foods - no indian, thai, chinese ingredients etc (other than soya sauce and rice!). I'm still not sure what 100% vegetal means, so don't assume it's 100% vegan.

There's an English supermarket in Funchal called Goodies with a reasonable amount of "accidently vegan" products (like Blue Dragon sauces), but expect to pay UK prices x3. If you're desperate for a tin of heinz spaggetti then give it a go! Otherwise I'd try to avoid.