A lovely PR contact – who I’d only ever known over email – suggested we meet for lunch, and chose Ethos as she’d heard good things about it. It had only been open a few weeks by the time we got there, and apparently had had some good reviews. Its concept is, firstly, vegetarian; and secondly that you help yourself and pay by weight. Great for sorting out the restrained from the greedy, basically.
I can’t really remember what was there before – it’s on Eastcastle Street, just along from Market Place – but it’s now a light, airy space, with white tiled walls, a mix of small booths, freestanding tables, and little circular arrangements round which several people can sit on velvety box-like seats. all very nice, new and modern looking. But the best bit is all the trees sprouting up into the ceiling in the middle of the room. They’re very slim and birchlike, and because it was december, they had various lights and baubles strewn around them. How very Swedish!
So then there’s the food. It’s all laid out at the right-hand side of the room, and the variety is pretty impressive, as well as colourful and inviting-looking. There are dips, from baba ganoush to guacamole; fresh salads, featuring anything from avocado and orange slices, to tomato and mozarella, giant couscous with squash and stuffed vine leaves; and a substantial range of interesting hot dishes. Particularly good were the aubergine baked with miso, chilli and sesame seeds, which had an authentic Japanese flavour; the Thai sweetcorn cakes, which came with a slice of lime and had a subtle taste of coriander; the inventive aloo Scotch eggs, which were soft boiled eggs wrapped in Indian spiced potatoes in a breadcrumb crust, served with a tangy home made tomato sauce.
I had a mixture of most of this on my plate, along with a ‘seasonal’ arancini ball stuffed with pistachio and peas; a courgette fritter with feta cheese; some kind of mixed stir fried veg with mushrooms, and half a filo pastry thing filled with something i forget. It was good though. The real test is at the till, when everyone’s plate is weighed separately. My pr friends’ dishes totalled around £10 and £15 respectively; mine came to a more mortifying £17. But then i had promised to share quite a lot of what was on the plate. Honest.
There is a separate table full of cakes and pastries, which also looked quite tempting, but we had no room by the end of it. The cooking is very good, and fresh, though while some of what’s on offer had some distinctive, if subtle flavouring, some was a tad bland. It made a nice change though, and I didn’t mind the lack of meat at all. Couldn’t make a habit of it, mind. You can get takeaway too. Give it a go.
atmosphere: 7/10
food: 6.5/10
vfm: 6/10