N & Co by Quinte & Sens (Vevey, Switzerland)

netco_exterior

Quinte & Sens is a shop in Vevey which sells biological products. Attached to it is N&Co, a small café. The entrance to the shop is at on one side of the block, N&Co has its own entrance in a pedestrian area at the other side. (You can also pass through the shop to get to the café)

Food at N&Co
Vegan pastries and savoury snacks!

The café is small, with some seats inside and a small terrace. The food in N & Co is touted to be 100% vegetarian, gluten-free and lactose-free. They use a lot of local, and of course biological products.

There is a counter with some savoury items, a glass display with pastries and sandwiches, a small refrigerated area with pre-made and pre-packaged dishes and drinks, and a salad bar where you can compose your own salad. You order at the counter, pay, and they bring your food after heating it. N&Co does a lot of take-out too, from what I could see when I visited. It was quite busy actually.

Salad bar at N&Co
Salad bar

It was a bit unclear to me if they serve vegetarian or vegan-only food, but when we visited and asked, we were told all the food was vegan! We tried a piece of broccoli savoury pie, empanadas and a lentil salad (from the refrigerated area). All of those got heated (also the lentil salad…I guess it was not a salad 🙂 )  Unfortunately the reheating of the lentil salad was not very thorough, some parts were flaming hot and others were actually cold.  That is too bad since the salad itself was pretty tasty.

Lentil salad at N&Co
Lentil dish

I never really tasted empanadas until I visited New York, were I found a lot of vegan ones and I ate a ton of them. They are generally very tasty, so I was excited to try them! The empanadas at N&Co were okay but lacked a bit of spiciness to me. Maybe because I got used to the spicy NYC version 🙂

Empanadas at N&Co
Empanadas!

My absolute favourite was however the broccoli tart. Apart from broccoli it also has nuts, seeds and mushrooms, which added a nice, earthy taste.

For desserts we choose a prune pie (tarte aux prunes) and a muffin. I really like the prune pie, it was fresh, and not too sweet. The muffin is nice, but quite dense.

We got all the food at once, I guess because we ordered all at the same time. The food ordering process was …. chaotic. But I will talk more about that in a moment.

Food at N&Co
Piece of broccoli pie, prune tart and muffin

If you order food you can get some iced tea for free with it, but they also serve other drinks like juices. We decided to go with the tea (mostly because of aforementioned confusion, we were not comfortable ordering something else).

So, the service. I don’t like being negative, and I want to stress that this was a single visit. Most reviews I read online don’t mention the service at all, or say that it’s great so I think we just got unlucky. But I also want to be honest. The service in the café, when I visited, was not good. It was quite busy and there was only one staff member, so I understand he couldn’t keep up with the people. But the way he reacted was rude and borderline unstable.

When we arrived at N&Co the staff member was on the phone behind the counter.  Assuming he was busy we waited with ordering while checking out the food stuffs on display and trying to make a choice. It all looked good! While still on the phone, the staff member urged us to order anyway. The ordering process was very chaotic, we had to say several times what we wanted. So the moment I wanted to pay he quoted the price. But. He overcharged us by 60CHF (!!!), since he had mis-typed one of the prices(!). Even in Switzerland, that amount is ridiculous. This more than doubled our total ! And he didn’t blink at quoting us that price either.  I noticed the discrepancy and I refused to pay until he had given us the proper bill. He urged us to sit down and resolve it later, since it was busy. However, he was being very rude about it, and behaved erratically. We sat down, got the food. But it was uncomfortable. I am not saying customer is king, but we felt like we were inconveniencing this guy.

After eating our food I again tried to pay and this time we got the right price.  The staff member, now calmed down, apologised for the mix-up and we got our desserts comped because he screwed up before.

Tea at N&Co
Home made, unsweetened iced tea

So yeah, the food was great but the service made it hard to enjoy. It just felt uncomfortable.  If I am in Vevey I might pop by to see who is at the counter and order again. But I won’t go out of my way to visit. There are too many other good places!

Type of place:  café/lunch
Completely vegan:  ?
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : http://quinte-et-sens.bio/

Avocado (Athens, Greece)

Outside of Avocado

Avocado is a vegetarian restaurant in Athens that has been around for several years.  The founders actually started with having a yoga studio, and the food served at Avocado has a focus on health as well. A lot of the food is labelled organic, and they serve some specific macrobiotic dishes. Avocado uses local, organic and seasonal products for as far as possible. Apart from the macrobiotic food, they serve pastas, pizza, soup, noodles, wraps, burgers and more. For drinks there are smoothies, juices, wines, tea, coffee etc.

Interior at Avocado

There is some confusion on the internet whether or not Avocado is vegan or vegetarian. It is vegetarian, but they serve several vegan dishes and items that can be served vegan. On the menu card it is listed which items are vegan, gluten-free or wheat-free. I did notice some discrepancies between the online menu and the menu card in Avocado itself, so maybe there had been a recent update of dishes. For example, we tried the falafel plate which was listed as ‘can be made vegan’ in the restaurant, and as ‘vegan’ online.

Drinks at Avocado
Coconut smoothie hiding a beer!

I tried a coconut milk shake, made with coconut and almond milk. This smoothie was specifically mentioned as vegan. Some of the other drinks can be made vegan upon request (at a surcharge). I really enjoyed it, the taste was just purely coconut, which I happen to enjoy.

Spinach tart at Avocado
“Mother Earth” spinach tart topped with almonds

For starters we tried the ‘Mother Earth’, a spinach tart, and the falafel plate (made vegan).  The spinach tart is based on traditional Greek food. The spinach part and the dough were tasty, though the dough, which is made with oat, amaranth and flax seed, was quite hard and a bit chewy. The tart itself was topped with almond and some were burned. Unfortunately, the tart was clearly re-heated in the microwave since some parts were cold and others were very hot.

Falafel plate at Avocado
Falafel plate: these falafels are huge!

We were warned that the falafel plate was big, and that was no lie! We were told we could bag up what we couldn’t finish, but as we spend the whole day walking around, a doggy bag was not needed. The falafel plate in its vegan form is served with guacamole which I found a bit strange. It is served with nice thick pita and tabbouleh with capers. The falafel themselves were very good!

Black Bean Caponata at Avocado
Black Bean Caponata wrap with nachos and gauc

What was a bit surprising was that we got the starters one at the time. The mains we got both at the same time. We tried a Black Bean Caponata wrap and a Koula panini. Both are served with guacamole and nachos. (I read later on the menu for the Koula panini we could’ve chosen sweet potato flakes. Well, next time :))  The Black Bean wrap is Mexican-inspired, with grains, black beans, avocado and veggies. The Koula panini has a potato-mushroom patty, tomatoes and home-made Ceasar dressing.

Koula panini at Avocado
Koula panini, also served with guac and nachos

There are two vegan desserts, and we tried the ‘hug a tree’: a slice of apple pie topped with hazelnuts and almonds. Interestingly with a similar crust as the spinach pie. Very nice, but again reheated in such a way that parts of it were cold.  We had the dessert with a nice coffee. Avocado offers soy and almond milk, but again for a small surcharge (it is organic though).

Apple pie at Avocado
“Hug a tree” apple pie

The atmosphere at Avocado is quite relaxed, with music from the 50s-60s. Interestingly there were quite a lot of older people for lunch. The food is a bit more expensive than the norm in Athens, but overall the quality is good (except for where they failed to properly heat the food). I also liked the portion sizes; many “health”-oriented places serve smaller amounts of food in my experience.

Cappuccino at Avocado
(Organic) Soy cappuccino

The service was also good, which I found common in Athens. The servers came by several times to ask if we liked the food. Which is nice, except sometimes I just had one bite so I couldn’t really judge yet 😀 The food also came out quite fast. Minor nitpick was that the service was a bit too fast with taking the plates, which gave a bit of a rushed feeling. But overall eating at Avocado was a positive experience!

Type of place: Vegetarian/Health restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (English) : https://www.avocadoathens.com/

Tibits (Bern, Switzerland)

Sometimes I hear people say that it is hard to be vegetarian or vegan in Switzerland. These people are very wrong. I hope I presented enough arguments already for my statement on this blog, and today I will present my strongest argument yet.

Tibits outside

Today, let’s talk about Tibits.

This chain of vegetarian restaurants was developed in collaboration with Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the World (since 1898!) which is located in Zurich. I have visited Hiltl as well, and to be honest I kind of prefer Tibits, it is a bit more relaxed, casual and less overwhelming in choice 🙂

Vegan croissants at Tibtis
Vegan croissants (the dinkel gipfel and laugen gipfel) at breakfast and brunch!

Tibits has locations in several cities in the German part of Switzerland (location in Lausanne to open December this year!) and there are 2 Tibits in London. The name is derived from the English ‘Tid Bits’, and the concept is that of ‘Vegetarian Fast-food Restaurants’. Don’t be fooled though, this is no snackbar* quality, this is good food; freshly made, with seasonal ingredients (many pumpkin dishes in the autumn!)  and local where possible. The ‘fast’-part is however true! You serve yourself from the buffet, and pay by weight. Tibits also does catering and take-away. They have published cookbooks, and they also sell special kitchen knives, bags and other merch.

Tibits Merch
Cookbooks, drinks, bags and yoga mats

I have visited Tibits in Bern several times, since I occasionally have to go to Bern for the day job. My non-vegan colleagues also enjoy the food at Tibits, by the way, it is certainly not just for the veggies amongst us. In general the restaurant is always very busy, with all sorts of different people, from young to old, families, groups of friends, etc. The atmosphere is relaxed, with jazzy music in the background.

Pastries at Tibits
Cakes, including a vegan muffin

Actually, I have been wanting to make this post since forever, but when at my day job I felt a bit awkward writing a review and making many photos (the secret double life of a food blogger :)). So I visited Tibits on the weekend, on Sunday to be precise. (Most, if not all, Tibits locations are open all day every day) On Sunday there is a brunch menu until 14:30. The other days there is breakfast until 10.

Bread at Tibits
Bread for breakfast/brunch

Brunch means there was a combination of breakfast foods (vegan croissants!!), and more lunch-type items available. Everything is vegetarian, lots is vegan and all dishes are labelled with common allergens. And yes there are desserts!

Starters at Tibits
Starter/salad portion of the buffet with the sign indicating the Nutritional info markers
Salads at Tibits
Salads, on top some cereals

So as mentioned Tibits is a buffet-style restaurant, there is no table service. You go to the buffet, load up your plate, go to the bar and pay based on the weight. Since I cannot start with describing everything on the buffet, I just made a bunch of pictures and hopefully they’ll speak for themselves.

Desserts at Tibits
Some of the desserts, berry compote, creme of fruits and the mango chunks in the background. (And a lost kelp salad in between)
More desserts at Tibits
The chocolate-abricot squares are vegan and so, so good

Everything I had at Tibits was tasty and there is a large variety of different foods, ranging from vegan shakshuka, to falafel, to baked potatoes, to bread salad, vegan sausages,  Indian-inspired dishes such as samosas, Mexican-inspired food like chilli… There are often also surprising dishes, and vegan/vegetarian variations on traditional Swiss food(which tends to be heavy on the meat & cheese).

Tibits food
Choosing is hard…(classic tatar, mais salad, sweet potato with cranberry sauce, piece of almond ‘cheese’,…)

Tibits offers a variety of cold drinks, such as lemonades and juices, but you can also get some tap water for free. For hot drinks there are coffees (and yes, you can get soy milk!), teas, and even vegan hot chocolate! At the bar there are also some additional pastries, such as the beautiful vegan lemon drizzle pie, and snack boxes later during the day. Last time I also spotted several ice creams.

Coffee and pie at Tibits
“Schale” (coffee with soy milk) and a piece of lemon pie ❤

I cannot recommend Tibits enough, it combines delicious food with a nice casual atmosphere,  lots of (clearly labelled!) vegan options and always something new to try.

Type of place: vegetarian/vegan buffet
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!
Website (German) : https://www.tibits.ch/de/

 

* See my post on the Vegan Junkfood Bar

Eco buffet (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Poppy seed cake at Eco buffet
This poppy seed cake ❤

 

We wandered into Eco Buffet because it was listed as a shop on the internet. However, it turned out to be more of an eatery with a small shop section!

There are two Eco Buffets in Kyiv, and the menu is a bit different at each location. They also have courses on vegan cooking, and do catering. It was nice to see the Eco Buffets being visited by all types of people by the way.

Part of the buffet at eco buffet
Part of the buffet with seitan sausages, “potato pancakes”, …

The buffet has vegetarian and vegan dishes. Interestingly, apart from being vegetarian, they also do not use eggs, onions and garlic. I believe this is due to the food being prepared in the Vedic tradition. Additionally they also do not serve caffeine and their breads are prepared without yeast.

Food at Eco Buffet
Potato pancakes, fried potatoes and seitan pieces

Eco buffet serves several variations on typical Ukrainian dishes, such as the salad Olivier, with seitan and vegan mayonnaise, and potato “pancakes”. They use a lot of seitan in their dishes, which I think is interesting since most veggie places tend to default to tofu. There are also Indian-inspired dishes, such as samosa, and other types of dishes. And there are a lot of cakes! So basically you take your tray, pick the things you want, pay and eat. I really liked the variety of dishes, and the food was good!

Salad Olivier at Eco Buffet
Salad Olivier with vegan mayonnaise
Type of place: vegetarian buffet
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (Russian, English): http://www.eco-buffet.com/

Le Grenier de Notre-Dame (Paris, France)

Le Grenier de Notre-Dame is a macrobiotic vegetarian restaurant in the centre of Paris, near the Notre Dame. It has been around for quite a while, since 1978. They use a lot of local and organic ingredients. This green mind set is also perpetuated in the décor, with a lot of green plants. Downstairs there are a few tables, and a bar. Upstairs there is a larger room.

Mango-avocado tartar at la Grenier de Notre-Dame
Mango-avocado tartar

Le Grenier offers a selection of soups, salads, bowls, desserts and drinks. Every day there is a different daily menu and the standard menu offers a lot of choice! On the menu the vegan dishes are clearly marked. Small warning, I noticed there was one dish which was marked vegan but contained honey. It turned out that dish “could be made vegan”.

Vegetable soup at le Grenier de Notre-Dame
Vegetable soup

We had a vegetable soup and a mango-avocado “tartar”. The tartar was very interesting; sweet and creamy.

Protein special at le Grenier de Notre-Dame
Protein special: different grains, tofu, seitan, beans and vegetables

For our main course we had the protein special and the couscous. The protein special was like a tasting menu full of different high-protein vegan foods like seitan, tofu, grains and seasonal vegetables.

Couscous dish at Grenier de Notre-Dame
Couscous with seitan “steak”

The couscous was served with chickpeas, several vegetables and a seitan “steak”. Both courses were served with bread.

Tarte aux poires at le Grenier de Notre-Dame
Gigantic slice of pear tart 😀

There are also several vegan desserts! We chose the pear tart and a chocolate carrot/avocado/mango tart with a scoop of sorbet ice cream. The chocolate tart was good, but very heavy. The avocado taste is hidden, but adds to the creaminess of the dish. The pear tart is huge!

Chocolate tart with ice cream at le Grenier de Notre-Dame
Chocolate tart with ice cream

Overall le Grenier de Notre-Dame is a relaxed place, with a lot of choice for vegans. The price is slightly higher than most other places in Paris, but the portions are big and the food delicious.

Type of place: Restaurant, Vegetarian
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes
Website (French, English) : http://www.legrenierdenotredame.fr/