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Roar!, March 6th - March 25th, 2012

Features

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Eat out at: tibits Matt Lever

tibits, 14-18 Heddon Street (off Regent Street) Research shows that children with a high IQ are more likely to become vegetarians as young adults. So it’s with humility that I freely admit not to understand the vegetarian mind. I usually feel short-changed by any meal that withholds an offering of at least a morcel of meat, and I like my steak rare enough that it could be resuccitated by a good vet. Thus, I felt more than a degree of trepidation when I went for dinner last week at tibits, a vegetarian restaurant just off Regent Street. Riding the à la mode wave of healthy, ethically sourced alternatives to bland Italian chains (there’s a Strada next door) or meatfeasts like Nando’s or GBK, tibits is a family run ‘boutique’ restaurant serving food from a range of different cuisines. Think South East Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and, of course, British. As well as cocktails, beer and wine, the restaurant is also well known for its inventive fresh juices.

Ed’s note: sorry about incorrect spelling, Holborn lovers! We can’t correct it!

© Matt Robinson

Burlesque: the art of tease Betsey Blaze The term burlesque first started appearing in Europe in the 16th century to describe grotesque imitation, later developed into a performance art that used satire to mock specific subjects and ideals. When most people think of burlesque nowadays, they think of the American bump and grind stars of the 1930s-50s such as Gypsy Lee Rose, but burlesque is not just about scantily clad women wiggling their hips. Over the past four years burlesque has shimmied into the mainstream and is no longer seen as a fringe form of entertainment. This can be partly attributed to the vintage revival and of course the PR machine behind Dita Von Teese. Nobody in burlesque can

deny what Dita has done to increase the popularity of the art form; however, burlesque is not simply Dita Von Teese. Burlesque is about female empowerment and sexuality, and challenges the idea that skinny is beautiful with many prominent burlesque stars being ‘curvy’ women. The art of strip tease is used as a method of satire or light entertainment and can also be utilised to make controversial statements, such as Dirty Martini’s ‘Patriot ’ routine, in which the dancer criticises American capitalism by stuffing her face with dollars to ‘Proud To Be An American’, tassels twirling. Burlesque at present is more diverse

and creative than it’s ever been, with a spin-off taking the industry by storm: boylesque features men as burlesque artists and is definitely one of the funniest forms of live entertainment out there. Burlesque has evolved to be something much greater than a strip tease; it’s witty, clever and, above all, excellent fun. If you’re thinking about popping your burlesque cherry, I would recommend The Wham Bam Club hosted by Lady Alex at Café de Paris - one of the best shows out there. The show features only the top performers in the industry (such as Ruby Deshabille and Betsy Rose). It doesn’t come cheap with standing tickets at £35, but it’s completely worth it.

I’d heard of tibits before visiting. Despite the affordable pricing, it’s a veritable hotspot for celebrity spotting. I didn’t see any there myself, but I’m reliably informed that the likes of Leona Lewis, Alan Davies, Frank Skinner and Gordon Ramsay are all fans. Joey Barton, captain of Queen’s Park Rangers, even found time in December to tweet: “Just eating at tibits, vegetarian restaurant. If all veggie food was this good, I could definitely be one…” For carnivores like Joey and myself, that’s a big statement to make. Could it be true? I went to find out. The modus operandi for visitors to tibits, as our waiter explains when we sit down, is a self-service set-up centering around the ‘food boat’, an island in the middle of the restaurant

from which you grab a plate and start filling it. The range of brightly coloured dishes on offer is extensive, arranged in a large circle according to whether they are hot or cold. Once the mountain of food on my plate is sufficiently heaped, I grab my free piece of bread and head over to the counter, where my plate is weighed. Lunch is priced at £2 per 100g, dinner at £2.20. The advantage for someone like me, conscious of his dwindling student loan, is that you can pile on as much or as little food as your bank balance allows. I pay and order a Tutti Frutti Dacquiri. Don’t judge. The diversity of cuisine is reflected in the taste. The food is an electic mix of flavours and colours, and I never once felt a craving for beef or lamb. Particular favourites included the cheese quiche – deliciously filling – and the cannelloni pasta with broccoli and spinach, which defied the belief that you can’t ever get excited about broccoli. Because of the DIY nature of the restaurant, you can find that you get a bit of everything onto your plate and then forget what you’re eating. Piece of advice: keep the hot and cold dishes separate. A taste of my friend’s (shall we call him ‘the Blonde’?) mango and lychee juice convinced me that tibits’ reputation was deserved, and my own cocktail was sweet and refreshing. I finished the meal off with a pint of organic (of course) lager. tibits knows what it’s good at and does it well. The restaurant itself is smart, the waiters are dressed down but reassuringly attentive, and the pricing makes it perfect for students in central London who are ethically and financially aware. Unlike Joey Barton, I don’t think tibits could make me give up meat anytime soon, but I’ll certainly be returning.

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