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Douglas McMaster’s ‘zero waste’ restaurant in Brighton has caused quite a stir with its 60-kilo composter that stands in pride of place, at the entrance. Once inside the restaurant, its airy interior and striking reclaimed furniture belies the work that’s going on behind the scenes, where Douglas and his disciples are busy brewing alcohol to serve in recycled jam jars; culturing butter to spread on their own, slowly fermented sourdough; curing local meats; and cooking delicious dishes with ‘intercepted‘ ingredients that would otherwise be destined for the scrapheap.
‘I opened a similar restaurant in Australia with an artist called Joost Bakker – a Dutchborn Australian who makes art using waste items,’ says Douglas. ‘It worked, so I brought the concept back to the UK.’
Dishes such as the brown rice risotto combine waste-free wizardry with culinary know-how. The recipe uses fermented brown rice paste stirred into a fresh, short brown rice risotto along with ‘espresso mushrooms’ that are grown in the used coffee grains from the on-site coffee shop. Curd made with leftover milk from the coffee jugs is added, along with a salsa verde made from herbs grown on the premises in wheely bins. ‘It’s a spectacular dish,’ says Douglas. ‘It’s incredibly healthy because it’s made from the fermented paste, which is full of good bacteria, plus it’s not going to break the bank at £9.’
Must order ‘Catch-box fish’ – a dish of ever-changing poached fish caught via the local ‘catch box’ scheme, whereby the restaurant takes whatever the fishermen land. Served with plum vinegar, caramelised onions, seaweed salsa, grilled cucumber and oyster emulsion. silobrighton.com
Written by Rosie Birkett