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Best restaurants for sustainability: Café ODE, Devon

Compostable cardboard trays, solar thermal lamps and lamb's wool insulation make Café ODE one of the most green restaurants around and the food is fantastic, too.

The public is gradually beginning to value green dining, but, says Café ODE owner, Tim Bouget, plates remain a sticking point. ODE serves up to 400 meals-a-day in compostable cardboard trays and: ‘It really annoys some of the older generation.’

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Those numbers suggest that Tim is winning the argument, and his cafe above Ness Cove in Shaldon (‘They call it a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem.’), is certainly built to last. Every detail of this stable block conversion – sedum roof sewn with wild flowers; solar thermal heating; lambs’ wool wall insulation – was chosen for its green credentials. ‘It’s the right thing to do and good business sense,’ says Tim, who also runs Shaldon’s ODE Dining restaurant. ‘Why would we buy tables from a factory when we can get them made here and support local suppliers?’

The food at this modish, family-friendly hang-out (also home to the Two Beach microbrewery, try the elderflower-tinged ODE Ale, pint £3), is regionally-focused and versatile. Dishes change daily depending on the availability of, say, sand eels or smoked River Teign salmon, which is served on a homemade English muffin with Hollandaise and a poached egg. Local venison is big in autumn, used in, for instance, a root vegetable stew or to make a burger with pickled cabbage, chilli jam and aioli. ‘At the core, it’s about good quality food,’ advises Tim, ‘forget the plates.’ Small boxes from £4.50, larger boxes from £7.50; odetruefood.com

Café ODE scores top marks from Food Made Good (foodmadegood.org). 


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By Tony Naylor