East London played host to the fourth annual Sustainable Restaurant Awards last night, praising the restaurants, pubs, bars and caterers around the UK which have the most sustainable approaches to dining — and London put in a good show.
Run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), the awards take into account the sourcing of ingredients, care for the environment and societal factors such as treating its staff fairly. Everything counts, from using local produce and serving sustainable fish to energy efficiency and the economical use of water.
A big win went to Mexican chain Wahaca, who scooped the Sustainable Innovation gong for leading the way in entomophagy — that’s the eating of insects. You’ll find chapulines (grasshoppers) on the menu in varying guises including with a cheesy dip (chapulines fundido) at all branches and with chorizo at the Covent Garden branch as part of a regional specials menu.
Adding to a recent string of accolades, Maida Vale gastropub The Truscott Arms did similarly well for the capital, scooping the highly contested award for Sustainable Pub of the Year. We’re big fans of the place, having reviewed its dining options, ranked it one of the capital’s best Sunday roasts, praised its gluten-free offerings and even named it as last year’s second hottest restaurant in our end of year chart. Another Londoner was among the runners-up — The Imperial in Fulham.
The award for Most Improved Sustainability acknowledges businesses which have really worked to change their practices for the better. This year’s winner was Soho Peruvian restaurant Ceviche, which is also about to open a second site near Old Street.
Other London winners include D&D London, which was named Sustainable Large Group Of The Year. It runs more than 20 restaurants in the capital, including fish-focused Kensington Place, Quaglino’s in Mayfair and Skylon on the South Bank. Gloucestershire-based Daylesford Organic was named English Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, taking in branches in Notting Hill, Pimlico and at Selfridges Food Hall, and Italian deli group Carluccio’s was a joint winner in the Society category.
TV personality and River Cottage founder Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was named Sustainability Hero, the genre’s equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.
These awards are quite rightly taken very seriously in the industry, and increasingly so by consumers too. We just wonder why so many of those businesses being awarded are chains — is it easier to achieve measurable sustainability on a larger scale, or do indies just not feel the need to bother?
For more sustainable dinners, take a look at our selection of Ten Sustainable Restaurants With A Conscience.