A zero waste restaurant is an interesting concept. What makes this concept even more exciting is how far you take this.
Is it purely in relation to the food? Using off cuts? The whole hog? In which case, St Johns already has you beat.
Or does it extend to what you do with the packaging? You can grind down glass bottles and repurpose these into glasses if you own an on site kiln.
However, there is then the problem of power. You could go medieval and go harness the power of burning things. However, the problem then becomes what to use as fuel? You could burn the plastic packaging that you couldn’t recycle but that would be unlikely to endear you to your neighbours (and is probably illegal). You could burn crates and other more environmentally friendly combustibles but you would probably run out of those fairly quickly. Depending on how annoying your staff are, you could always burn parts of them as a disciplinary sanction – break a glass and I’ll burn off half your hair. The problem with this is that it would likely lead to potential penal penalties with entirely obvious problems.
Perhaps in a less cruel way of producing heat, you could consider burning waste products (human and otherwise). Although this type of action is probably (a) not sustainable, (b) generally frowned upon by the health and safety inspector and (c) potentially rather fragrant.
No matter, I bravely took the step to see what all of the fuss was about.
Siloaf, butter. A decent introduction to the meal. An earthy and slightly bitter exterior with a delightfully bouncy interior. Clever wordplay aside, this was a nice start to the meal although it would have been made better if it continued as an accompaniment throughout the meal instead of being just a first course.
Quavers, vegetable treacle, goat’s cheese. This had the consistency of a very lightly fried cracker. With cheese. And sugar. On top. A weird combination that broke apart into a fine spray when I stupidly tried to pick it up. It was airy, rich in umami taste and liable to blow away in the wind.
Chicken wing garum, three corned leek. This was one (rather small) leek per person. Although I could not fault the cooking of the leek or the rich saltiness of the sauce, the size left rather a lot to be desired, in this case being the rest of my dish as it was gone in less than a bite…
At this point, another attraction of the area arose as Hackney Wick is also an extremely hip place. The thumping background of heavy bass cheered on the main course. My stomach also encouraged the food onwards out of the kitchen as it was lacking.
Heritage carrots. Given that we paid for 3 set meals, it was kind of miserly to only give us 2 carrots among 3 diners. Although, perhaps a hungry chef ate one before it got to us. Nothing wrong with the carrots coated in a sticky glaze but they were massively overshadowed by the rest of the white dish.
Jerusalem artichoke, pigs head, spent sourdough. I was most enamored of the skin of the little dumpling type thing. The texture of crunch, soft and limp was great. Although the strangeness of having 2 of these dumplings between 3 people was again rather weird.
Maitake mushroom, chervil, miso. The mushroom was lightly cooked with an excellent supple bouncy texture. It was sadly overshadowed by the power of the miso. The strength of the miso destroyed tastes of anything else as the saltiness overwhelmed my mouth. However, in my famished hunger I made sure to shovel down every last bite in search of sustenance.
Siloaf ice cream sandwich. A crunchy biscuit with caramel sauce sandwiching a pleasing dense ice cream. Salty, crunchy, umami and creamy, this was a good dessert. It even managed to stick to the theme of the rest of the food, being rather small.
I am sure that many of these dishes required laborious labour to prepare and exemplary imagination but this was overshadowed by a particular problem. Although on the positive side, now I know why they are zero waste restaurant. They feed you so little, you won’t leave anything on your plate.
So we had to run off to perhaps the epitome of the opposite, McDonalds, afterwards.
A quiet eating 7/10.
Lunch (3 course equivalent) was GBP 45 excluding drinks and service.
Unit 7 Queens Yard
London E9 5EN