Put Your Senses To The Test
Brighton Food Reviewer & Photographer, Xavier, September 2016
Silo is the first zero waste restaurant in the U.K. led by chef and owner Doug McMaster who has an impressive curriculum behind his cheffing experience. His vision of reducing waste, improving food habits by using ancient and modern techniques and sourcing food that is respectful to its environment is imprinted on every aspect of the restaurant. From the recycled furniture and tableware designed and crafted by local artists, to their soft drinks made from foraged ingredients and fermented naturally on site the ethos of Silo runs through the restaurant, with the main attraction being the menu dishes which are served by chefs and come with a detailed explanation of how, why and when each dish was made.
If you’ve never been to Silo, be prepared to get your senses put to the test!
As Nick and I arrive we are greeted by friendly staff who promptly take us to our table which is my favourite spot in the restaurant. Most of my photography wizardry has happened in that corner by the window. I can’t help but stop and smile as I spot the huge ANARCHY print on one of their walls.
Drinks arrive and we whet our appetite with an apple, lemon and elderflower soft drink made by Old Tree. We’re told about the process that goes into this drink and how it is so alive that it continues evolving sip after sip. At first I feel doubtful about it and think that a dash of gin and bitters might improve the unusual taste but as it evolves it becomes smoother and the flavours are neater.
By the time we’re done with it it’s a completely different drink.
The menu is arranged in herbivore and omnivore set sections and one can choose from a 3 course or 4 course dinner with wine pairing at an extra charge. The wine list follows their support for organic and natural methods so expect an exciting alternative to a usual wine list.
Simple Yet Innovative
Moments later Doug presents to us a colourful plate made from recycled plastic bags which carries Silo’s unique bread and butter. Without revealing too much, I’ll just say that the whole bread and butter making process is done in-house and it’s truly exceptional, they’ve mastered the craft!
We decided to go for one of each 4 course menus so we get to try everything.
First dishes to arrive are the baby gem, St James & elderflower as a herbivore and beans, parsley & lardo for omnivore.
As the dishes arrive, Doug explains an idea that has been sitting in his head for a while, actually since his days at NOMA in Copenhagen where he was able to prepare and serve organic systems with items that can’t be sold or are of limited access to the public. Like St James’ cheese, or the lardo which was produced in-house also.
The baby gem and St James dish was packed with flavour and a good mix of textures, the cheese wasn’t too overpowering and the elderflower lent a touch of freshness. The beans were cooked perfectly! The Lardo had an incredible smoky, meaty flavour but being mostly fat a lighter texture. I loved the simplicity of this dish, which was all about the flavours.
Beautiful Presentation & Flavours
I was hoping to have a tomato dish I saw earlier that day on Silo’s instagram feed. I’m a tomato geek so I got lucky. The dish features a Pineapple tomato slice on top of dehydrated tomato dices and sprinkled with marigold. It tasted just as beautiful as it looked.
The other dish was rapeseed-marinated courgettes and leek with a tomato, whey and elderflower sauce. Both dishes were fun and complex in flavours which I’m happy to see is a tradition in Silo.
Next to arrive was the shitake mushrooms, Worksop Blue and dumplings as the herbivore main course. The dish was fantastic, the mushrooms had a delicate flavour and you can never go wrong pairing them with a blue cheese. If you love mushrooms, you’ll fall in love this dish!
The omnivore dish was Sheffield park pork and vintage parsnips served in different textures.
The Future of Food
As we had our main courses Doug explained his intention of making food as a process instead of consuming processed food. This is his vision for Silo and he believes that it is the future of food. We discussed this over the rest of our mains.
Our impeccable table manners had to be left aside as these dishes were delightful, and we asked for more bread so we could dip it in the remaining sauce. We were not ashamed and Doug approved with a smile.
As a parenthesis, I’ll say that there was a slight wait between courses; intentional or not it didn’t bother me at all, in fact I liked it as Silo is making a statement by stepping out from every bad habit in the food industry and from our busy lifestyles. Food must never be rushed and it should only be served once it’s ready to be eaten. Chapeau for those long breaks!
Lastly the desserts arrived. Blackberries, fennel and cacao. The cacao is emission free and imported from the Dominican Republic. It is roasted, grounded and prepared entirely in the kitchen at Silo.
The other dessert was a Silo classic redesigned: Sea buckthorn, brown butter and pine. I preferred this new version as it not only looks better but the taste is on a new level. This dessert is not for everyone, say Doug and he feels diners will probably love it or hate it. The marmite of pudding!
Me? I loved it.
The restaurant evolves and improves as the team discover better ways of doing things. The chairs are now more comfortable for example. The ambience is relaxed and all the attention is on what’s going on in the kitchen. If you’re a foodie or at all into cooking then I highly recommend you sit at the bar for a front row view of the kitchen action. The chefs and waiting staff are always happy to talk about anything on the menu, in the restaurant or about their ethos and motivations. Bravo Silo!