Leading by example and being progressive by employing some very old fashioned ideals
Silo, Brighton Review
As you’re all probably aware by now, Silo is the UK’s first zero waste restaurant, but there’s so much more to the story than that.
Ingredients travel as short a distance as possible to Silo and arrive in their whole form to preserve nutrients as well as cut out over-processing. Animals are treated with equal respect, as Silo embrace a nose to tail ethos to use as much of the animal as possible. They have their own flour mill to turn ancient varieties of wheat the really, really old fashioned way and they make their own butter, almond milk and rolled oats.
Deliveries come in re-usable containers and any food that isn’t consumed by diners or staff is fed to their aerobic digester, which can produce up to 60kg of compost in just 24hrs. However, Silo doesn’t generate anywhere near that amount of waste so the digester is offered to local residents and restaurants to use as well, including The Real Junk Food Project, where I’ve recently started helping out.
I was here with my friend Sam to thank him for his work on the Foodie Brighton App and as he had recently gone ‘full veggie’, Silo seemed like a great option because of their Herbivore and Omnivore dinner menus.
Silo’s brewery, Old Tree create drinks from foraged and intercepted plants, herbs and vegetables by fermenting them and we both started with a Nettle Beer (£3), which was citrusy, bitter and refreshing all at the same time. I couldn’t drink a lot of this stuff but a small glass was a nice start to the evening.
The staff here are all superb and our server came over to explain the dinner menu to us. There are two, four course menus – one herbivore and one omnivore and you can pretty much do what you want with them. Have just one dish or go all out with four courses + wine pairings. We obviously did the latter.
One of the chefs brought over some bread and butter. I say ‘some bread and butter’, I mean ‘the best bread and butter I’ve ever tasted‘. Milling your own flour, creating a sourdough starter and churning your own butter sounds like a faff but once you’ve tasted this stuff, you’ll understand why they do it. Better yet, the bread and butter came out on one of Silo’s incredible plates made from recycled plastic bags by Louise Thilly. Just look at them – they’re gorgeous!
Silo don’t give too much away about the dishes on the menu. A good example of which is course number one – Green Beans, Parsley & Lardo. The beans are simply boiled and served with a parsley butter, topped with house-cured lardo, which is aged for about four months. The salty lardo added depth of flavour as well as a texture contrast with the crunchy beans. Really simple. Really tasty.
Next up was Tomato, Bacon Curd & Marigold made up of raw, sliced pineapple tomatoes with semi-dried cherry tomatoes underneath with bacon curd and marigold flowers. This was a gorgeous dish in both its presentation and taste. The raw tomato slices were super fresh and balanced out the much more intense semi-dried tomatoes and bacon curd (which reminded me of bacon jam) beneath. Not sure if the marigolds added much to the dish but they did look very pretty!
The main course of the four was the Sheffield Farm Pork & Vintage Parsnips. The pork loin is poached for four hours and served with a parsnip puree, sauce and crackling. The free range pork was meltingly tender and full of flavour – another tasty dish but it would have been £18 on its own, which is a hefty price tag.
My dessert course was Sea Buckthorn, Brown Butter & Pine. The sea buckthorn is served as a jelly with brown butter mousse and finished off with pine oil and sea buckthorn granita. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, which is a good thing as this dish was verging on savoury. The naturally tart Sea Buckthorn worked really nicely as a jelly and the balance of flavours and textures added up to a lovely, refreshing end to the meal.
Silo is leading by example and demonstrating that this much needed, truly sustainable approach is not only possible but isn’t actually that hard if you approach it in the right way – trade directly with farmers, use re-usable delivery vessels and choose local ingredients.
It’s ironic that Silo is being progressive by employing some very old-fashioned ideals, but all the praise Silo has been getting now makes perfect sense.