As a trained Natural Chef with a certain consciousness towards the epic amounts of food waste in the food industry, I listened with interest about Silo in Brighton’s zero waste policy. Another of their unique selling points is a pre-industrial food system concept, and words such as natural, primitive, whole and unprocessed appear in their publicity (favourite Natural Kitchen Adventure words). Skeptically imagining this was yet another restaurant fad, I was overwhelmingly pleased when I visited Silo for a taster meal.
Silo, located in the North Laine area of Brighton, is a restaurant, bakery and coffee house. Waste from one process is used in another, or shared with the farms where most of the food is sourced. For example, excess steamed milk from making lattes is cultured into cheese curds for the restaurant and food scraps are composted on site and sent back to the farmers. Repurposing of otherwise wasted materials is echoed in the furnishings – all the chairs, tables, even glassware – everything is made from repurposed materials and looks achingly hip. Cocktails and iced tea served in jam jars? Was I in California again?
Chef Douglas McMaster picks simple seasonal ingredients from idyllic sources (he spoke of eggs and chickens from utopia farms) and cooks them well. He doesn’t over complicate the plate, keeping ingredients in each dish simple and prepares options for vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike. McMaster ate vegan for a year to improve his vegan palate – most impressive for a chef. Just another reason to get me back at Silo to chow down on that delicious buckwheat flatbread and fabulous vegetable dishes.
Miele steam ovens are used in the kitchen, and offer a healthful way to prepare many ingredients. Steaming is, of course, a way to keep nutrients inside our foods, rather than boiling or roasting the life out of them.
Each dish was stunning. The flavours of individual ingredients are allowed to shine in the uncomplicated executions. I particularly enjoyed the al dente seasonal asparagus served simply with steamed egg yolk and seeds. No need for an extra sauce – the oozing egg yolk did it all.
This passion for delivering seasonal, organic, unrefined and local (natural chef SOUL principals) is a growing sensibility in the UK. I couldn’t help wonder if Silo would be ‘just another restaurant’ in the SOUL foodie mecca of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California (where I did my training) sitting with Chez Panisse, and Zuni Café. Thanks to McMaster, Silo is standing proudly on its own two feet in hippie Brighton!
Silo is a new restaurant, not yet one year old. I sincerely hope they make it through the traditionally rocky road of the first year in business, adding to the socially conscious restaurant concept in the UK.
Each time I visit Brighton, I remember it’s a mere one hour train ride through the lush English countryside (post Croydon of course) from where I live in SE London. Outside of rush hour, it’s possible to make it to Brighton in about the same time it takes me to get to West London. Madness.
Thanks to Miele UK and Silo Brighton for my invitation to dine. All opinions are my own.