Gluten-Free Dining: Ethos

by Olivia Cox December 22

I am gluten-free. I have been for about a year now, and the difference it has made to my health and happiness is just phenomenal. The realisation that a daily 4pm bloat is not ‘just one of those things’ has made life infinitely more enjoyable, and has taken the risk factor out of socialising. One slight problem is that cutting-out gluten entirely has meant that if I do have some accidental gluten, my reaction is far worse that it used to be, presumably because my body is just not used to having to process it anymore. And many restaurants have been a bit slow to realise that gluten-free is not a dirty word. So ensuring I’ve eaten GF can be a bit tricky.

Not so with Ethos, a new self-service restaurant in Fitzrovia that specialises in vegan, meat-free and gluten-free dishes (and handily labels them as such, too).
I visited last week with my friend Pandora for a festive meal ahead of a trip to Winter Wonderland. We arrived around 8pm and were shown to our table, and had the dining experience explained to us. Essentially, you get to choose what you want based on what looks good. There is no actual written menu – instead, you are invited to fill a (small or large) plate with as much as you fancy from the buffet area, then take it to be weighed. A bit like Tibbits in Heddon Street. Or pick n mix, for that matter.
The great thing about this is that you basically veto the possibility of food envy from the word go. I did a cursory first lap to plan my buffet assault, then got stuck in, piling a potentially unusual combination of things like humous, stuffed potatoes, massaged kale (still adore the concept of massaging a kale), stilton gnocchi, tabouleh, avocado quinoa, curried broccoli… To say the food is beautiful is an understatement. By the time I had finalised my plate, it really was something of a work of art. If I do say so myself…
Note: The buffet is split into hot and cold dishes, so technically you could be a little more civilised about the whole thing and have starter then main. I did no such thing. I don’t have the patience for that, and actually I quite enjoy mixing flavours that might not ordinarily go side-by-side.
By the time we returned with our laden plates, our drinks had arrived. There’s a fridge stocked with things like water and soft drinks, or you can order smoothies, cocktails and wine from your waiter. We did the latter, settling on a refreshing cucumber gin & tonic followed by a glass of malbec.
Aware of just how quickly a self-service dining experience can be over, we paused between savoury and sweet to have a look around the place. The actual seating area is very modern. All marble table tops with navy leather seats and gold hardware. Birch trees are scattered around the place (don’t ask me how) which gives it an al fresco feel, and to my left there’s a more casual area with comfy chairs and a minimalist fireplace. One of those ones with a row of grey pebbles that’re somehow alight.
Onto the desert stand, which was again signposted by nutritional information. I had a slice of gluten-free millionaire’s shortbread, and Pandora had a gluten-free sticky walnut tart-type thing. Then, because we realised we hadn’t had any chocolate, we got a brownie to share as well. Because, Christmas.
Ethos is a very modern way to enjoy eating exactly what you fancy, without any of the faff or awkwardness usually associated with free-from diets. Their symbol is a stag (there’s a large gold one emblazoned on the floor by the check-out). I asked about this – turns out the stag is seen as the protector of the forest in English folklore. It is a confident creature, a leaderand a herbivore. Which – tbf -probably neatly sums up what the restaurant is all about.
For more info and reservations, visit the Ethos website.
Olivia x

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