Near Piccadilly Circus (and also in Westfield), the best self-service diner concept we’ve come across; the fare is varied but all-vegetarian – for the sort of lighter meals to which the place is best suited, we don’t think that’s much of a disadvantage.
‘Swiss’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘concept’ – can there be three words more destined to inspire despair in any red-blooded Englishman? That does seem to be the evidence – this smart new place, in the heart of the West End, has yet to achieve even one major newspaper review. Which is a shame: if you’re looking for a light meal within five minutes’ walk of Piccadilly Circus, this place is pretty much perfect.
Let’s work backwards, and start with with the ‘concept’. Like its branches back home in Switzerland, the West End operation is open all-day, seven days a week. Everything is presented buffet-style. At lunchtime – the meal, we would suggest, for which the establishment is most obviously suited – you’ll find an appetising selection of hot and cold dishes, savoury and sweet.
You pay by weight – a bit disconcerting at first, but a two-course lunch for one, with a glass of wine and a cup of coffee ended up around the £15 mark, which we didn’t feel anyone could realistically complain about.
Now for ‘vegetarian’. The food here is admittedly meat-free, but not so you would really notice. There’s a good range of dishes, all colourful and flavoursome, and including some quite ‘meaty’ selections – such as a solid (in a good way) mushroom risotto on the day we visited – to complement the samosas, salads and so on. Except perhaps at dinner, all but the hardest-core carnivores should find plenty here to tempt them.
Vegetarianism of course doesn’t have much influence on puddings at the best of times, and we thought the desserts here were really very good indeed – certainly enough to make a mid-afternoon visit an attractive proposition.
Lastly, the most vexed word of all. ‘Swiss’. Let’s be honest, Switzerland doesn’t always get a great press. This, however, is an operation which has made a virtue of that country’s better bourgeois virtues, and left the other aspects back home. Clean, bright and welcoming, it is notably well run in a non-officious sort of way.
When you go for your pudding, your main course tray will magically disappear before you get back. The staff are all really friendly. And they speak English too well to be English; just enough of a Germanic hint remains, however, to convey an appropriate degree of authenticity.