I used to have this line. You know sometimes you have lines that you say once and they become one of your stock lines. You’ve said it so many times over so many years that you can’t remember who you said it to and you don’t even care when someone says you’ve said it before because at least it’s memorable.

ETHOS interior cropped

My line was “There are three things people can say to me and instantly I’ll know we won’t get on: I am devoutly religious, I’m vegetarian and I don’t like Prince.”

If someone said to me that in 2014, I would forsake one of these I would be so shocked but I would assume that I had fallen in love with a Texan farmer’s daughter, because meat’s meat and I’ve got a Little Red Corvette poster in my bedroom. But to my astonishment, it was the meat rule that got overturned.

As of June 2014, I have been (mostly) veggie. It started because my sister and my girlfriend were vegetarian and I thought these are two people I respect. I’ll see their way of life. I visited a number of vegetarian restaurants over the summer and I began to enjoy myself.  Then I went to see Prince. He’s 55 years old, vegan and teetotal and he looks incredible. Then I watched this documentary called Vegucated. This is the documentary that you are warned as a meat lover not to watch because it will turn you veggie. I watched this documentary and I thought that there would be something fundamentally wrong with my conscience if I didn’t heed the message of this film.

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So I started and I just kept going. I won’t refuse to eat meat and a friend’s house if they cook it for me and of course I ate meat on Christmas because nut roasts are rank and its hard to make aubergine festive.

I’ve got a new girlfriend now and I think she’s less than impressed by my vegetarianism. She keeps trying to make me eat meat and then when I cave (Kebab Kid, New Kings Road, 10/1/2015, 1.15am) she lauds it over me as part of the perpetual battle of teasing one-upmanship that is a relationship. So I hit back.


We’re going out for dinner on Wednesday.

Where are we going?

Somewhere I can regain the higher ground


I mean… a lovely veggie restaurant

(Scowls) Will there be wine?


Fine. I’m in.

And so I became the first man ever who tried to prove that he wears the trousers in the relationship by eating a broccoli, kale and cauliflower roast.


Ethos was our destination. It’s a self-service buffet with hot and cold vegetarian dishes off Great Portland Street. It’s sandwiched between Pret and Crussh, but Ethos is far from another lunchtime stopover.

Amidst an indoor forest of silver birches, the new fermented food plates are the attraction for the health-conscious in January. Our common understanding of fermentation is the process by which sugar can be converted into alcohol, however pickled and soured foods also undergo the fermentation process.

We try the sauerkraut, the pickled gherkins and the Kim Chi. The Kim Chi is exceptional. I love very strong flavours and the chilli and the bitterness of the fermented carrot and cabbage packs a real punch. I would eat this Korean side dish every day. I give some to my girl to try. She makes the face of one of those awkward tweens in that Haribo advert.

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The cold dish menu is very far Eastern. There are adapted Vietnamese, Chinese, Phillipino and Indonesian dishes. In Europe and North America, we rely on butter and salt to deliver flavour. If you have ever wanted to know why French restaurant food tastes so good, see how many Lurpak silver foils you can find in their bins. Eastern cuisine, particular in relation to vegetables, relies on a balance of flavours – a spice, a bitter taste and a moderator. The bitterness in this case comes from the fermentation. Our bodies are a delicate ecosystem of bacterial microorganisms. Fermented foods contain those good bacteria Yakult were on about and I saw someone on Sunday Brunch talking about it this week so Ethos must really be on to something.

Head Chef Georgios Argyriou tells me that he wasn’t trained in vegetarian cooking. He’s had to adapt to London’s sudden insatiable demand for health food. He tells me in the lead up to the launch of the new January menu, he slept two or three hours a night. He dedicated all his time to reading up on how fermented food could redress the post-Christmas imbalance of bacteria in your gut. There is true dedication in this menu. It’s a scientific experiment in a cafeteria. Something you weren’t allowed to do at school.

Aloo Scotch Egg

The true highlight of the meal is the Bombay Aloo Scotch Egg. I though I’d had the best Scotch egg in London at the Saatchi Gallery Mess (see below), but this dish somehow tops it. It’s extraordinarily inventive. The rich meat sauce is replaced by soft tomato and potato with cumin and coriander. I believe that the key to enjoying vegetarianism is to avoid substitutions. Don’t add veg, where there should be meat. But the exception to this rule, I feel, is substituting with flavour-packed foreign vegetable recipes. Vegetarian Indian dishes are beautiful, but when combined with an English classic, they steal the show.

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I would really recommend this as a mid-week date spot. If you don’t want to be indulgent on a Wednesday, but do fancy a bottle of wine and flavours that demand discussion, pop into Ethos. Although, there is an option for indulgence in the puddings.


“I really like this carrot cake.” says my girlfriend. “Mmmmm delicious. Not sure about the icing though. It looks like it tripped up and landed in another pudding.”

“Maybe it tripped over one of the silver birch roots” I said.

“Hey, leave the trees out of this. We like them. From now on I want to eat all my evening meals in forests.”

“Oh so you like the veggieness? Are you starting to see the light through the trees?

“Don’t push it. Remember Kebab Kid”