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Increasingly savvy diners are not only asking restaurants whether their chicken is free range, their tuna line-caught and their scallops hand-dived; more and more now want to know where ingredients have come from, what eco-credentials a restaurant possesses, and how establishments treat their staff in terms of training and tips. The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) awards one-, two- or three-star ratings to member restaurants that perform highly in these categories, and works with them to improve their sustainability. Here is Square Meal’s pick of the best SRA-certified sustainable restaurants in London and the UK.
With its seasonal menus, Freedom Food-certified and free-range meats, organic wines, Fairtrade tea and coffee, and homemade condiments, Bumpkin really delivers in terms of sourcing and seasonality, wringing maximum feel-good factor out of dishes such as roast baby chicken with lemon, thyme and capers. It also goes the extra ‘country’ mile, using furniture made from reclaimed or recycled materials while still managing to make its venues look the business.
Situated a short distance from London’s Hyde Park, the Cookbook Café derives its name from the hundreds of recipe books filling its premises. All ingredients are sourced locally and sustainably, right down to the Fairtrade sugar. Food doesn’t go to waste here, either – all diners are offered the option of taking their leftovers home in a bio-degradable doggy bag.
Local produce, including ales, is at the heart of things at this converted pub. Franklins’ seasonal menu – printed on recycled paper, natch – changes daily, but always includes several gutsy options, from devilled kidneys to faggots with pease pudding. The restaurant is also actively involved with charities such as StreetSmart and local initiatives that teach food provenance in schools.
The four branches of Hawksmoor are as celebrated for their top-class steaks and sundries as they are for the way they source them. Sup beer from local breweries at the bar before tucking into high-welfare meat, safe in the knowledge that both staff and suppliers are treated fairly. Hawksmoor is also involved with Springboard, a charity that helps unemployed young people, and Action Against Hunger, an organisation that works to combat world hunger.
Leon set out to change the face of fast food, and arguably is well on the way to doing so. A resolve to source ingredients from farms that uphold its high standards of free-range, Fairtrade, sustainable, organic, seasonal and recyclable everything adds up to food that’s healthy and tasty in equal measures. Leon is proud of its enviable sustainability scorings, publicising its results for all to see.
This surf-shack-style restaurant, with its scuffed furniture, communal tables and open kitchen, scores an A for its sourcing practices. Everything, from the environmentally conscious local suppliers it uses for meat and vegetables, to its practice of recycling as many resources as it can (even its furniture) attests to its sustainability. It’s also keenly involved with a range of charities.
Champions of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight and Freedom Food’s ‘Simply Ask’ campaigns, The Chimney House and its sister restaurant, Preston Park Tavern (see below), are pillars of their community, sourcing purely from Sussex and participating in local events and initiatives as well to ensure sustainability runs further than just the food. All the better with which to serve inspired gastropub dishes such as mussels and sea beet in dulse broth.
Preston Park Tavern uses only MSC-certified seafood, free-range eggs and high-welfare meat to produce dishes such as crispy pork-belly rarebit with poached egg and rocket, or rib-eye steak with hand-cut chips and garlic-and-thyme butter. Plus, the adventurous wine list runs to organic and vegan bottles. This restaurant takes sustainability to a new level with its promise to recycle and reuse all materials.
Trailblazing chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was one of the first people to bring a truly sustainable way of living to public attention. His Canteen & Deli, in Axminster, uses ingredients from its kitchen garden as well as small local producers and growers, and is held up by many as a model of sustainability. Recipes in the canteen come from the man himself, and the wine list is weighted towards English producers such as Cornwall’s Camel Valley.
Renowned Edinburgh restaurantIglu is committed to sourcing its meat and fish from farms that are both local and ethical. Its seasonal menus can be relied upon to provide organic dishes ranging from lamb-leg steak served with Puy lentils to carrot-and-butterbean korma. Not only environmentally responsible, Iglu is socially responsible too, taking an active interest in the welfare of its community by working with local outreach programmes and providing low-priced meals for low-income families.
Enochs was recognised as an eco-friendly fish-and-chip shop when it won the title of Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year. The restaurant uses only Marine Stewardship Council-approved catch, staff are passionate about marine responsibility and the restaurant is an active proponent of marine conservation efforts as well as a supporter of the RNLI, a charity that saves lives at sea.
Providing a splash of contemporary colour to a traditional English village, this high-aiming restaurant (which has been tipped for a Michelin star) is a far cry from its previous pub incarnation. The kitchen serves only locally sourced meats and seasonal produce, while the menu changes regularly. Sustainability is a serious concern for The Marquis, which operates an extensive recycling program and on-site composting.