A visit to a fine dining restaurant is a truly pleasurable holiday experience. But when it comes to choosing a venue, what are the deciding factors – the location, the menu, the price? For many people, sustainability is now a key factor when selecting a restaurant, something that has come to the attention of the Michelin Guide, which has recently introduced its Green Star. This award assures customers that an establishment is a leader in implementing sustainable practices and values inside and outside their kitchen, from avoiding food waste and single-use plastics, to working with suppliers who produce their own foods with methods that respect the environment. Many restaurants have decided to base their narrative on these values. Below we offer you a tour of some of the most delectable sustainable restaurants in the UK.
Osip, Bruton, Somerset, England
The young chef Merlin Labron-Johnson is fast becoming one of the best known faces of the “farm to table” movement in his country. After working in international restaurants with Michelin Stars in Belgium, France and Switzerland, he returned to London, where he won his first Star at the age of just 24. Now, after setting up his own restaurant, Osip, outside the capital in the idyllic county of Somerset, Merlin offers a menu which includes seasonal ingredients, many of which are grown by him and his team in a nearby garden, and features products grown by local farmers. His tiny rural restaurant offers two midday options (a menu du jour for £55, or a tasting menu consisting of six dishes for £85), and two supper menus (a tasting menu of six dishes for £85 or nine for £110), with pairing options. The dishes vary, depending on the season, with the offering changing each day, according to what has been delivered. Sophisticated and elaborate, you can expect innovative creations such as duck with beetroot, black sausage and red chicory, or turbot with pink potatoes in a local cream and caramelised cider sauce with fish broth and pea miso. He won his Michelin star less than a year after opening it.
Native, London, England
This London restaurant devotes its efforts to celebrating native ingredients from the British Isles, many of them from London and nearby areas, which they grow themselves or obtain from areas where they grow wild. They also adopt a zero waste strategy. Native’s imaginative creations include ingredients that you may never have seen before, with many dishes featuring foods foraged by the chefs themselves. The resumes of the founders, Ivan and Imogen, highlight their significant experience in terms of sustainability, such as having worked in the kitchens of the River Cottage or the Blue Hill Farm at Stone Barns. What’s more, Imogen has been included in the list of the 100 most influential women in 2021’s catering and restaurants sector. This ethical restaurant is currently located on the premises of Browns in the swanky district of Mayfair, and offers a tasting menu that is based on seasonal ingredients (£59), with starters that are a declaration of intention in themselves: a menu of snacks made with what others might consider food waste. They also offer the option of tasting their small plates menu, with the possibility of ordering à la carte.
Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, England
Chef Raymond Blanc is a living culinary legend. In the beautiful rural hotel, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, the famous French chef, who has lived in the UK since the eighties, leads a culinary project rooted in sustainability and ecological farming, a narrative that he chose to adopt well before it became so popular. With sophisticated combinations, his tasting menus, both lunch (£175) and supper (£194), have a marked French accent with a modern spirit. His presentations are perhaps lighter than the French classics, but representative of that cuisine and culture. As its name indicates, at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons the seasons are what are important and if you go there, it is worth exploring its fruit tree orchard, which has more than 2,500 unusual varieties, many of them planted by Blanc himself. The restaurant opened more than 30 years ago, has two Michelin Stars and recently added a Green Star to its list of awards, as a reward for its sustainable credentials.
Roots, York, Yorkshire, England
The small brother of the famous Black Swan restaurant at Oldstead (Yorkshire), Roots is in the centre of the beautiful city of York and was also set up by chef Tommy Banks. Its attractive dining room features elegant panelling, wooden floors and marvellous natural light. To show off all the splendour of the products they grow on the family estate (which is comprised of eight hectares of farmland and more than one hectare of orchards), the restaurant, which is housed in a 19th century building, has a single tasting menu (£110) with a marked seasonal accent. In fact, depending on the time of year and perhaps their intention to stress the cycles of nature, the name of the menu changes from “The Preserving Season” to “The Hunger Gap” or “The Time of Abundance” while the dishes change depending on what they harvest from their orchards. Both The Black Swan at Oldstead and Roots have been distinguished with one Michelin Star.
Haar, St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland
The Scottish chef Dean Banks, who rose to fame thanks to the Masterchef TV programme, has a great ability to show off the splendour of the Scottish larder. At the Haar Restaurant in St Andrews, he celebrates the best of the sea and the mountains of his country. His narrative promises an unparalleled sensory experience, to which his brilliant creations, using the finest local produce available, bear witness. Furthermore, his culinary narrative revolves around nature and is not only reflected in the products on offer, but also in the materials used to decorate the restaurant, not to mention the tableware and cutlery. Everything is designed to reduce the impact of their business and the Michelin Guide has acknowledged this by awarding the restaurant a Green Star. His cocktails change regularly, like the menu, and are certainly worth trying. His creations are also now available in Edinburgh in his latest project, as he is the manager of the historical Pompadour Restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian There, the tasting menus (lunch from £50 and supper from £85) feature dishes that blend local ingredients, such scallops, smoked lobster, trout and beef from free-range cattle fed on grass, and other more global ingredients like tamarind, nori and ras el hanout .
Henry Robertson Dining Room, Llandderfel, Wales
Gareth Stevenson has taken his environmental values to the fine dining restaurant of the rural hotel Palé Hall, known as the Henry Robertson Dining Room. The venue has all the elegance that is to be expected of a five-star hotel and features two tasting menus (from £70). Assisted by the hotel gardeners, he has plans to set up a vegetable orchard in the surrounding area. His culinary art is bold, with intense flavours and top notch ingredients, which he masterfully combines to produce surprising fusions. Stevenson is a champion of high quality local produce and has successfully incorporated Welsh classics such as lamb into his menus.
Coombeshead Farm, Launceston, Cornwall, England
Often featured on the lists of the best restaurants with accommodation options in the country, this rural paradise in Cornwall has 26 hectares of open fields, streams flanked by oak trees with deep roots and woods in which the cattle they raise roam freely.
The restaurant has all you could ask of a place such as this: stone walls, wooden tables and beautiful beamed ceilings. With a strict reservations policy, it is necessary to book in advance to try their tasting menu (five plates for £80, with a vegetarian option) from Thursday to Sunday, or their Sunday lunches (three courses for £40). The Sunday lunch includes chicken and vegetables, all grown in their own garden, a classic pairing in the UK.