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: ★★★★★

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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Caravan – Kings Cross

Reviewed on June 2nd, 2015 by Dina

Birthdays are always good to be celebrated but sometimes the organising of such an event can require some time. Hence together with a friend, we decided to plan a birthday dinner for a close friend. Originally Grain Store was suggested but as it was fully booked even though the booking was tried to be made a few weeks before the event, the next option was Caravan next door.

The area in and around Kings Cross and the canal has undergone a big change compared to a few years ago. The regenerated area has made way for Granary Square, “grass” covered stairs, deckchairs and playful fountains. Granary Square has also become home to a few restaurants.

Caravan has a lively atmosphere and a great vibe about the place. It has a warehouse feel to it with exposed metal frames. The kitchen is at one end. Candlesticks and low lighting decorate the windows and the dining area.

Caravan Place SettingCaravanCaravan InteriorCaravan Jalapeno Corn BreadCaravan Chickpea ChipsCaravan Olive and Herb FocacciaCaravan Watermelon and TofuCaravan Butterbean and Heirloom TomatoesCaravan Heritage CarrotsCaravan Aubergine MaghmourCaravan CappucinoCaravan Hot WaterCaravan Interior 2Caravan Granary SquareCaravan Canal

The menu is split into small plates, large plates, breads/cheeses/meats and sides. This makes it great for a group of diners as it enables you to try a variety of dishes. Caravan boasts a fantastic range of really fresh seasonal vegetarian food. The dishes are brought out as soon as they are made so they come at random times. This is not a bad thing as it gives you time to start sampling the delights.

For the breads, a corn bread and focaccia was chosen. The corn bread was not spicy even though it had jalapeno. It had a nice flavour and was more cake like than bread. The olive and herb focaccia came as two wedges with la saba butter. It was not oily at all.

Caravan puts flavours that you wouldn’t think to put together such as watermelon, tofu, coconut yogurt and lemongrass caramel but it really does work. One of my favourites had to be the chickpea chips with the jalapeno ketchup. Gone away is the grainy falafel like texture which is what I was expecting. Instead, the chickpea chips had a wonderful smooth puree like interior with a crispy outer.

Butterbeans with heirloom tomatoes and goat’s curd had a real freshness to it. This was helped by the gazpacho dressing. Contrasting colours of the heritage carrots was beautiful. The carrots had a bite to them and hence were not overcooked. The dish also had goats cheese, sultanas, greens and ras el hanout. The large place of aubergine maghmour, courgette, dukkah, yogurt and sumac focaccia was delicious and hearty.

For dessert, I was lucky enough to try a bit of the chocolate pot with raspberry and blackcurrants. The rich chocolate contrasted the tart berries. What is there not to like?!

Caravan specialises in coffee and they are coffee traders and a roastery. The decaffeinated cappuccino was really smooth and made a good end to the feast. Hot water was also served and this was given in a teapot.

The only qualm that I have about Caravan is that they only give diners two hours and fifteen minutes at the table. So the issue that we came across was that when we were told that our time was up at the table, the staff still let us order more drinks. This brought about some confusion as in where were they expecting us to drink the drinks if we had to leave the table. It seems like the days are gone where you can just spend as long as you want out for dinner. It is a shame to have to be time conscious, especially when you are out for a special occasion.

On a plus note, when Caravan was emailed prior to the booking, asking about certain dietary requirements and queries about their food, they did respond with some good suggestions. The staff and service was good and friendly.

All in all the evening out at Caravan was a success! The main thing is that the birthday girl did have a good time for her dinner out with friends. Guess we should start planning something for next year!

Caravan, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square (off Goods Way), London, N1C 4AA

Rating: ★★★★½

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