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London’s best ethical restaurants

3 April 2015 Nick Chen

The art of fine dining is best enjoyed with a healthy conscience. In much the same way that wine maximises the flavour of certain dishes, your meal truly does taste better in an eco-friendly establishment. We’ve tracked down London’s best ethical restaurants: they come with cultured menus, staff with a positive ethos, and could probably do with your support.

The Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub
www.dukeorganic.co.uk
30 St Peters, Islington, N1 8JT

It’s neither a duke nor in Cambridge, but does have a completely organic menu. In fact, launching in 1998, the independent trendsetter was the world’s first certified organic gastro-pub. The furniture is second-hand (not that you can tell), a diligent recycling process is in place, and the food waste collection is handled with an anaerobic digester – a green alternative to dumping products in landfills. (They promise: “Coca Cola or Nestlé will never own The Duke.”) Repeat visits are warranted because the “field-to-plate” menu changes each day, although the staff will probably be annoyed if you keep asking how an anaerobic digester works.

The Waterhouse
www.waterhouserestaurant.co.uk
10 Orsman Road, Hoxton, N1 5QJ

In addition to providing a great view, Regents Canal is used by The Waterhouse to generate renewable hydro-powered electricity. The Shoreditch eatery also takes advantage of the canal’s water temperature for an ecological heating system – location, location, location. While serving locally sourced ingredients, the aptly named restaurant collaborates with the Shoreditch Trust to train, mentor and employ disadvantaged people who would be turned away elsewhere. And after dessert, you can take a stroll outside by the canal. Perfect.

T.E.D Restaurant
www.tedrestaurants.co.uk
47-51 Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, N1 9BU

Think.Eat.Drink launched in 2005 to advise the restaurant industry on sustainability and how to cut down on carbon wastage. Its first restaurant, which opened last year, comes in safe hands with decorations that are recycled in the good way – even the door panelling and stained-glass windows are recycled. The name “Think.Eat.Drink” is not only wise advice (thinking should always be before the drinking) but also refers to its own philosophy. For instance, there’s extra care to minimise the burning of fossil fuels in the kitchen, and ingredients are sourced locally – especially important with seafood. And when you’re making conversation before the food arrives, there’s ample time to make a terrible “T.E.D. talk” joke.

Feng Sushi
www.fengsushi.co.uk
Various locations across London

The fear with eating sushi is that the food either isn’t either fresh, or you’re about to become responsible for ending a species with a single mouthful. Fear not, because Feng Sushi prides itself on sustainably sourced and harvested fish. Not only does the menu feature the usual favourites, it includes a list of where each ingredient was farmed – which makes a change from the usual practice of blindly plucking dishes from a conveyer belt. If ordering takeaway, the sushi comes in biodegradable packaging with chopsticks made out of sustainable bamboo and sauce cups fashioned from sugarcane. Just remember to recycle when you’re done.

Grain Store
www.grainstore.com
Granary Square, King’s Cross, 1-3 Stable Street, N1C 4AB

Grain Store specialises in two things: being one of those swanky places that lets you see the kitchen from your table, and its commitment to sustainability. If the name didn’t give it away, the restaurant prioritises likeminded suppliers and has set itself the target of becoming carbon neutral. It’s also an award-winner, having been crowned 2013’s Sustainable Restaurant of the Year for its conscientious kitchen setup. The menu specialises in vegetables, without limiting itself to only vegetarian options, and half the money you spend on water goes to local charities – it’s probably the only time you won’t resent adding water to the bill.

The Coach & Horses
www.thecoachandhorsessoho.co.uk
29 Greek St, Soho, W1D 5DH

From the same owners of The Smithfield Tavern, The Coach & Horses became London’s first ever vegetarian gastropub with a menu that challenges the notion of traditional pub cuisine. For one, the restaurant is only accessible through an obscured door behind the bar, but also offers environmentally friendly alternatives to branded items like Coca Cola. The twice-weekly piano sing-a-long nights are arguably noise pollution depending on who’s had enough to drink, but they fit in with the venue’s rich cultural history. While I didn’t catch the Peter O’Toole play inspired by the joint, I can personally recommend the “Tofush and Chips”, which deserves a bite for the name alone.

The Shed
www.theshed-restaurant.com
112 Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill, W8 4RT

Many Londoners will never witness a farm or even believe such a thing exists. For them, The Shed is is a Zone 1 solution: the two owners (also brothers) source the ingredients from their younger sibling’s farm in West Sussex. The menu is thus designed to minimise waste (good news for fans of “nose to tail” eating) and leads to dishes such as rabbit ravioli and tempura duck liver. It’s like being on a farm except someone does all the work for you.

The Three Stags
www.thethreestags.com
67/68 Kennington Road, SE1 7PZ

Contrary to suspicions your hay fever gets worse every year, London doesn’t have that many bees. This is why the roof of The Three Stags is home to a beehive and 50,000 bees. No, it’s not a hipster trend that’s passed you by, but part of a campaign to protect urban bees and thus save the environment. (Bees are surprisingly essential for pollinating crops and establishing the food chain.) There’s also extra care to source sustainable ingredients, avoid pesticides, minimise waste and not sell bottled water, but of course it’s the other buzz that caught your interest – you can probably ask for extra honey with your meal.

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