Zero-waste restaurant in Brighton
PUBLISHED: 11:14 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:03 06 November 2017
© Theo Cohen 2015
SILO claims to be the UK's first zero-waste restaurant. Fittingly, it is in Brighton. Jenny Mark-Bell finds out whether the substance matches the style
When a restaurant states in its marketing materials that its food is designed with the bin in mind, it isn’t, perhaps, the most promising introduction. But all as is not quite as it seems. SILO is the UK’s first zero-waste restaurant and, naturally, it is in Green Brighton. They take this stuff seriously: plates are fashioned out of old plastic bags, they deal directly with farmers, and any food wastage is simply composted on-site before being delivered back to the farmers, who use it to produce more food.
If all this sounds a bit joyless, it isn’t. The food, produced by a host of cool young chefs led by Douglas McMaster, is exquisite. Not simply a restaurant, the building also houses a bakery and coffee house. They even churn their own butter and mill their own flour. Douglas himself, who previously opened SILO Melbourne with artist/designer Joost Bakker, speaks eloquently and passionately about his concept and its execution – he is a great ambassador for zero-waste dining.
While Douglas calls his food ideology pre-industrial – based around the five food groups of Plant, Dairy, Fish and Meat (there is also a Wild option), the restaurant itself has a fairly industrial vibe. Things like the electrolysed water system (meaning you don’t need to use soap) won’t have come cheap, so the building retains its concrete floor and unadorned walls. But this does allow the superlative food to shine more brightly. Our meal began with the homemade sourdough – moreishly chewy – and that heavenly home-churned butter.
There followed a sublime salad of multi-coloured heritage tomatoes with smoked curd and wild garlic buds. I could happily eat this twice a week for the rest of my life, it was delicious. As was the next dish: a slight variation of the classic asparagus and poached egg, with tender little green spears matched with an deliciously gooey egg yolk (the white mysteriously absent), all sprinkled with sprouted seeds.
The fish course was stone bass, which beautifully suited the creamy cauliflower veloute and sea vegetables it came with.
To finish, we ate strawberries and raw cacao with preserved lemon skin – a wonderful zingy conclusion to a marvellous meal.
Judging from my Twitter feed, Brighton has wholeheartedly embraced SILO. The hope now will be that once the novelty has worn off, the institution will remain.
SILO is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is available for private functions.
39 Upper Gardner Street, Brighton; 01273 674259; silobrighton.com