Brighton Food Reviewer, Anna Pearce, Nov 2016
It’s little surprise that the UK’s first ‘zero waste’ restaurant found its home in eco-friendly Brighton. Silo, which opened in 2014 on one of the North Laine’s more residential roads, is ‘designed from back to front, always with the bin in mind.’ by using local ingredients and dealing with farmers directly, eliminating waste and allowing for pure, unprocessed cuisine.
Standing proud on Upper Gardner Street (number 39 in case you miss the giant shop front signage), the warehouse-style space utilises upcycled chairs and tables, with steel fixtures and fittings and painted bare brickwork, creating a minimalist industrial look, which is toned down with cosy ambient lighting. With jam jar glasses, recycled paper napkins and worktop tables, there’s no mistaking the philosophy behind this restaurant. Praised for its green ethos, as well as its innovative and exciting menu, Silo has very quickly made its mark on the city, with people queueing up to sample the brunch, and a diverse stream of regular clientele, from students, to local office workers, to mother and baby gangs from the baby swimming school next door, Silo has captured our hearts.
For the Christmas season, Silo is offering a choice of two set menus – Herbivore and Omnivore, alongside its everyday offerings of Dairy, Fish & Meat set menus. Served from the 29th Nov – 28th Dec, the Christmas menus are priced at £30 & £34, and there is also the option of adding a wine pairing for an additional £22 per person. My guest and I are both veggies, so we sampled the everyday Dairy set menu, and also got a sneak peek of the seasonal Herbivore Christmas menu, which provides a festive slant (and an extra course) compared to the everyday options.
After our gourmet warm sourdough bread, which deserves a mention for being absolutely delicious, I tried the first dish of golden beetroot ribbons served with a slow cooked egg yolk and lovage. Sweet and refreshing, this dish makes the perfect starter by combining some exciting flavours without being too filling, leaving enough appetite to enjoy the remaining rich and festive dishes.
We also sampled an additional starter on the recommendation of Poppy, our helpful waitress, of deep fried Jerusalem artichokes, which were hearty but not too heavy, with a sophisticated twist of silky homemade, slightly spicy kimchi.
Next on the list was a celeriac dish, served with the seasonal sheep’s milk cheese St James, plus whey, sprinkled with fresh parsley stalks. Now this was a Christmas dish – rich, creamy with a distinct herby flavour woven through the layers, it was what vegetarian Christmas food should be.
A Firm Favourite
The final (and my favourite) savoury dish on the seasonal menu was Shiitake Mushroom, Worksop Blue & Potato Dumplings. The slightly sweetened shiitake mushrooms were complemented by the tangy blue cheese, and the light and fluffy potato dumplings tied the whole dish together. Warm and filling, this plate had all the hallmarks of hearty winter comfort food. The only downside was that we could have eaten a lot more of it!
The deserts were just as imaginative and intriguing as the previous courses. The seasonal pud was bitter yet smooth Pirate Chocolate Mousse (which, as Sous Chef Halfdan explained, comes from lands afar on an emission-free boat, hence the ‘Pirate’ reference), served with a whey sauce, malt crumble and a splash of pine oil. From the regular menu we sampled the equally Christmassy Poached Pear served with a buckwheat crisp, and rooibos tea and honey sauce. The sweeter of the two desserts, this one featured the perfect flavours to get us in the festive mood.
The unfussy, ‘back to basics’ decor really means that the food is left to speak for itself. Silo doesn’t make a big deal out of its drinks menu, which complements the simplistic style of the restaurant with a small selection of wines and ales.
A topical concept that had potential to backfire really has taken Brighton & Hove by storm, and it’s clear why. Innovative, clean and green, it suits the city to the ground.