Sustainable food is by no means a momentary trend in London’s restaurant landscape – and it comes in various gastronomic guises, from closed-loop menus to farm-to-fork supply chains and recipes inspired by the philosophy of slow food. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat ethically in the capital.
Seasonal, organic and locally sourced ingredients are now in firm favour in London’s kitchens, meaning you can cut the carbon without skimping on the carbs. These are the top destinations leading the charge.
Founded on core sustainability principles of seasonality and waste minimisation, Native uses ingredients foraged from both the city and countryside regions such as Kent. Founder Ivan Tisdall Downes created the space to celebrate wild food, and has done so by incorporating seasonal game, sustainable fish, selected herbs, and plants and vegetables into his dishes. With the option of both tasting and à la carte menus, diners can enjoy unorthodox meat dishes like wood pigeon kebabs and pig’s head croquettes. A must-try are the chef’s ‘Wasting Snacks’ at £10, which are a selection of nibbles like fish-trim toast and rhubarb hoisin created using ingredients that would otherwise go to the tip.
Founder Fergus Henderson established St John in the mid-1990s to bring to life the philosophy of his published work Nose to Tail Eating, which celebrates thrifty cooking that uses every inch of the animal. Seasonally-led, the menu at this Michelin-starred eatery changes daily and boasts a selection of offcut-orientated dishes, such as ox liver bacon and mash or rabbit offal. The cult roasted bone marrow and parsley salad has been a permanent fixture on the menu for over 24 years and is a must-try. Note that there’s also an emphasis on being present here: a polite notice encourages you to turn your phone off while dining.
Spring celebrates a philosophy of cooking that is economical and mindful by repurposing vegetable cuts into soups, baking with bread from the previous day and fermenting. The sustainability initiatives here extend beyond sustenance: Spring aims to minimise deliveries, prioritise small producers and regularly hosts sustainable pop-ups in the salon. Having eradicated single-use plastic in replacement of biodegradable materials, the team also collaborate with partners such as the WWF to tackle environmental crises.
Having worked in Scandinavia’s most sustainable kitchen, Noma, chef Doug McMaster knows a thing or two about sustainable eating, which he’s translated to his zero-waste Hackney-based restaurant, Silo. Utilising a pre-industrial food waste system, Silo strips production back to basics while keeping its food anything but. Both the à la carte and six-course tasting menu offer plant or omnivore options and change daily, featuring dishes like braised Friesian dairy cow with parsnip and peppercorn to rosalba radicchio and brown crab. Meanwhile, bread is served from the on-site mill, drinks are fermented in the on-site brewery, and there’s a biodynamic wine selection from Sussex. As for the menus, you’ll find them projected onto the walls of the upcycled space.
This café by day and restaurant by night embraces the Italian concept of agriturismo, which is centred around enjoying local food from the land. Frizzante’s dishes, such as the homemade pappardelle, give diners an authentic taste of Italy while all produce is in fact sourced from the farm across the road in East London. Alongside this, chef Eddy Ambrosi carefully selects biodynamic wines for customers to try. Be sure to reserve a table on a Thursday evening for their special intimate agriturismo event from 7pm to 10pm with live music.
An institution among the city’s vegan community, this organic plant-based destination practises the philosophy of root to fruit with its biodynamically grown produce. Sourced from the restaurant’s farm in Kent, the produce is whipped up into dishes such as no-beef burgers, all washed down with cruelty-free cocktails. The sourdough artichoke pizetta and Middle Eastern bowl with sumac roasted aubergine and za’atar crackers come highly recommended.
Founded by Gael and Francesco Boglione, Petersham Nurseries in leafy Richmond protects the environment and supports local communities with its Italian-inspired cuisine. The team’s sustainability credentials go far beyond food, with a groundwater irrigation system and aerobic food digester in place, while the chef’s uniforms are refashioned from plastic bottles. Further to these initiatives, the restaurant also works with waste-separating company Quantam to use lighter vehicles in a local radius to collect rubbish, alongside the world’s largest recycler of coffee grounds, Bio Ben, to make sure all coffee waste becomes biofuel.
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