Hiltl – Zurich, Switzerland

Reviewed on August 23rd, 2015 by Dina

Hiltl is known for being the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe and has been run by the Hiltl family since 1898. The restaurant is deceiving in size; it is a lot bigger than it looks. There is a huge buffet area with over 100 different varieties of food with flavours and cuisines from all over the world. In addition to this, Hiltl provides an A La Carte menu.

The clean and tidy restaurant area is spread over two levels. Plush cushions and patterned seating make it a comfortable dining area. There are also wooden tables and chairs. The lighting is quite striking and there are chandeliers on the upper level. The staff are really polite, attentive and give great service.

The A La Carte menu provides a refreshing take on vegetarian food with so many intriguing items. The menu is categorized by Starters, Salad Platters, Fresh Vegetables, Traditional, Hiltl Classics, Pasta and Asia. There is also a list of allergens for all of the dishes. It was too difficult to choose what to have so we went with the staff’s recommendations for a couple of things from the Traditional section of the menu.

The Hiltl Burger was made to a secret recipe and was in a sunflower and pumpkin seeded bun. The tasty burger had so much flavour. It came with Swiss herbal quark, coleslaw and a tomato based cocktail sauce. These sauces were ideal for the fresh country fries. The burger and all of the accompaniments were served on a wooden board.

It was nice to try something different by having the Cordon Bleu. This was made of seitan, smoked tofu and Appenzeller cheese all wrapped in a crispy coating. The smokiness of the tofu went well with the nuttiness of the Appenzeller cheese. Appenzeller cheese is a speciality cheese produced in the northeast region of Switzerland. The Cordon Bleu was made complete the vegetables of yellow and orange carrots and courgettes. The vegetables were all chunky and not overcooked.

Hiltl has tempting desserts on offer and it is a shame that they could not be tried on this particular occasion due to the restaurant closing for the evening. There are also a range of juices and different teas such as peppermint combined with thyme.

All of the food at Hiltl was delicious and very enjoyable. The combination of the flavours for the dishes work so well together. Even if you are not vegetarian, Hiltl is a fantastic and worthwhile restaurant to try.

Hiltl, Sihlstrasse 28, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland

Rating: ★★★★★

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Yumchaa – Goodge Street

Reviewed on August 16th, 2015 by Dina

For those of you who enjoy tea, you will be spoilt for choice at Yumchaa. At Yumchaa, it is all about the loose tea with signs saying “No tea bags, no tea baggage and no tea bagging” and “Drink loose leaf tea”.

The variety of teas are displayed in little labelled milk jugs. Take your pick from the black, green, red and white teas. All the teas are listed with the ingredients, the type of tea, the caffeine level and also whether it is available hot or iced.

As there is so much choice, be warned it may take a while to decide. After narrowing it down to have a caffeine free tea, the Raspberry Vanilla Rooibos tea was chosen. The components of this red tea were raspberry, vanilla pods, rose petals and rooibos. The tea was fragrant and fruity with a hint of vanilla. It was pleasant together with some hot soya milk.

The counter is adorned with sweet and savoury scones, thick slices of cake and a tower of brownies. It is a shame that it is an open display of the food and items are not covered. But Yumchaa did inform us that this is going to change by September and all of the food will be displayed behind a glass counter. If you want something for lunch, then there are also wraps, sandwiches and salads.

The cheese and chive scone was of a good size. It came toasted with butter on the side. The scone was dense with cheesy pieces and was filling.

The staff at Yumchaa are friendly and don’t rush you to order your tea. They make sure that the tables remain clean and come round frequently to clear up anything that you have finished with. It’s great that they also don’t mind refilling your teapot with more hot water.

Different wallpapers with different themes decorate the walls. There is a cuteness about Yumchaa with its displays. A big wooden table and chairs make up the window seating. The rest of the cafe is brought together by cosy sofas and smaller tables. It feels fairly spacious.

Even though Yumchaa is a popular cafe and tearoom, it is not overly noisy. Maybe this has something to do with the calming effect that tea has on people! There is a nice buzz about the place.

Yumchaa sure has got things right with going back to serving loose teas in a relaxed environment. It is easy for the hours to pass by at this wonderful cafe. All of the loose teas are available to buy so once you discover your favourite, you can enjoy it at home.

Yumchaa, 9/11 Tottenham Street, London, W1T 2AQ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Bibigo – Angel

Reviewed on August 2nd, 2015 by Dina

Even after reviewing many eateries, it’s exciting to come across a cuisine that has not been tried before. Bibigo was my first experience of Korean food and it was perfect. It felt like a high end restaurant. The interior was clean and spacious with lots of wood decor and intricately carved wood panels. The bar was at the entrance with high stools. The chefs at work in the kitchen could be seen from the dining area.

There were many items on Bibigo’s menu which sounded interesting but the one that was settled for was the Hot Stone Bibimbap. A sizzling hot stone pot contained the colourful vegetables of mushrooms, sliced greens, kimchi and tofu. All of this was on top of a bed of fluffy rice. The spicy Kohot sauce and yellow sauce was given on the side. The Bibimbap tasted delicious. The combination of the seasonal vegetables with the sauces and rice went really well together.

The Kimchi Stew that my friend had was equally satisfying. The spicy stew was made of pork and tofu and came with rice. There seemed to be a slight confusion when more rice was asked for. The staff came and gave an empty bowl. So we weren’t sure if they were coming back to fill it with rice. After a short while, we asked again and this time a bowl that was full of rice was given.

The staff were all very professional and gave us good service. They were able to explain the items on the menu in detail when we asked about the dishes. The hot water and the regular water were given in small glasses. These had to be asked to be refilled throughout the meal. It may have been better to have been provided with a jug of water.

Bibigo is a truly lovely place to come to for healthy Korean food. It is nice that we will be returning to try the other items on the menu in the future.

Bibigo, 407 St John Street, London, EC1 4AB

Rating: ★★★★½

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