Last night saw the third annual Sustainable Restaurant Awards take place in Borough Market, awarding eateries around the UK for sustainable approaches to dining.
The awards are run by the increasingly important and influential Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), a not-for-profit organisation which works with restaurants to help them become as sustainable as possible, and helping diners choose the most sustainable places to eat.
The SRA describes sustainability as involving 14 key measures (you can see them on an infographic here) that fall into three areas: sourcing, environment and society. The first is the most obvious, including ethical meat and dairy, sustainable fish, fair trade goods and seasonal produce. The second covers issues involving the transportation of goods, waste management and energy efficiency; and the final category looks at healthy eating principles, the treatment of staff, and community engagement.
Despite competing with many a more rural and ingredients-close-at-hand establishment, London shone through last night as a city that cares by bringing in the gongs and the placings.
The big win went to Grain Store, which is run by chef Bruno Loubet at Granary Square behind King’s Cross station. As well as being runner-up in both of the national awards for ‘environment’ and for ‘society’, they scooped the regional top spot to be named London’s Sustainable Restaurant of the Year 2014. The use of local and fair trade produce and a dedication to the sourcing of sustainable seafood are cited as reasons for the win, while the SRA also notes their staff training and the clear labelling of healthier options on menus.
In the ‘large group’ category, London pub company Geronimo Inns scooped the coveted top spot. They have more than thirty pubs around the capital, and were commended for their commitment to ‘using UK produce wherever possible and for choosing sustainable, seasonal fish’ as well as a caring attitude towards their staff. London fast food chain Leon and London-centric Italian deli-come-eateries Carluccio’s were also commended as runners-up, and elsewhere Carluccio’s won the award for ‘sustainable innovation’ which refers to such things as energy-saving technology and a chef training academy which it's built above its Islington site to benefit both staff and the local area.
Piccadilly’s Brasserie Zedel was a runner-up in the ‘society’ category, praised for excellent staff training as well as engaging with local charities. Steak supremos Hawksmoor just missed out to a Hertfordshire-based chain in the ‘small group’ category. And in the ’sourcing’ category, Friends House in Euston came a (we like to think close) runner-up to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage.
Friends House also came runner-up in the regional category that Grain Store won for London. Notting Hill’s The Shed and Cookery School near Great Portland Street were also commended, while the national award for ‘most improved sustainability’ went to Hammersmith vegetarian Indian restaurant The Gate.
For more information on all the winners and the reasons for the wins, as well as lots more sustainable restaurants around London, visit the SRA’s website. You can also check out our own selection of ten of London’s most sustainable restaurants.