Silo: Serious about food & serious about sustainability
Brighton has a reputation for being a hub for conscious-minded businesses and Silo, the UK’s first and only zero-waste restaurant, bakery and coffee house, is one of the city’s great food successes. It’s tucked away in the Bohemian North Laine area and easily recognised by the huge No. 39 painted on the exterior wall.
The interior has an urban/industrial feel, with white-washed brick walls, lots of stainless steel and chipboard plus four thick wooden beams in the centre of the room, which appear to be holding the ceiling up. Made entirely from upcycled materials, it’s more quirky than comfortable but given it was fashioned with a shoestring budget it just shows what can be done with a lot of imagination and determination.
Enter Silo and you’ll find a tiny coffee house out front with cakes and sandwiches all made on the premises and ethical tea supplied by Vrac in Lewes. The tea is special because most blends are made-by-hand using local herbs and flowers. Bertha (Silo’s in-house composter) and “the beating heart of Silo” also makes its home here. All of the restaurant’s food waste goes into her and within 24 hours it’s transformed into compost, which is either taken to nearby farms or given away to customers for free.
Produce for all Silo’s dishes is also either foraged or sourced locally and sustainably – delivered in reusable containers. Think back to the days of milk being delivered to your door and the bottles being collected and refilled – it’s just the same.
I popped in for brunch the other weekend and had a chat with Doug McMaster, the chef and owner of Silo (who is incredibly just 29-years-old) and this is what he told me about Silo:
The key part of Silo’s tapestry is taking whole foods directly from the source and cutting out the middle man. We butcher a whole animal rather than buy in processed meat, so the menu changes daily based on the cut of the animal brought and what remains – 90% of the menu is plant-based – we won’t ever stop serving meat but the focus of the menu is plants – this is the future of food, it has to be, otherwise, we’re going to have to say bye bye to the planet.
After Doug shared some pretty exciting plans for Silo with me – to be revealed in the Spring – it was time to eat.
My friend Lousie, a fellow blogger, ordered the veggie version of The Silo breakfast – £9, which has been on the menu since the restaurant opened. Served with a lovely chunky slice of toast, beans, slow-cooked egg, mushrooms and crispy seaweed it was a hybrid of a posh beans on toast and a veggie fry-up. The crispy seaweed may seem an odd pairing with breakfast but I assure you it worked perfectly. Louise also commented that the dish was also very filling.
With lunch plans not too far off, I went for a lighter option of coddled egg, with black pudding and kimchi on two slices of toast – £8. My free-range egg was nice and runny with a rich orange-yellow colour yolk. The black pudding which came neatly balanced on top of my coddled egg was full of flavour and not the least bit dry. In fact, it was just as tasty as the Spanish Morcilla de Burgos (the don of all black puddings). The quirky twist to the breakfast was the addition of fiery, bright red kimchi (a fermented Korean dish made of vegetables and a variety of seasoning) on the side, providing my much-needed morning wake-up call. The only trouble I had with my brunch was cutting through the crust of the bread, which was rock hard.
As well as brunch, on a previous lunch visit, I’ve also sampled Doug’s candy beetroot workshop blue cheese & potato dumplings and the cod cheeks with green tomatoes & marigolds. Both of which were delicious – most notably the juicy sweet green tomatoes.
PRICE: £17 for 2 people
RATING: Must Go | Give It A Miss | Worth A Try
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 5/5 from the FSA for food hygiene
Just looking at the dishes that come out of Doug’s kitchen I begin to salivate and the flavours that follow never disappoint either. Doug is a very accomplished and ambitious chef having worked in revered restaurants like Noma and St John – Bread & Wine. Price-wise it’s not unreasonable at all either – £5-£6 for a salad or sandwich, £12-£16 for a large lunch dish and 3-course dinners starting at just £25.
Need to Know
Brunch is served Mon – Fri (11am-3pm) and Sat & Sun (10am-3.30pm) and a new three-course vegan menu coined “Plant Food Wins Again” is also available at Silo for £20, every lunch and dinner between 6-7pm.
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*Disclaimer: We were invited to Silo so our breakfasts were complimentary. However, I’ve also visited as a paying customer on other occasions and had equally good experiences. As always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.