Not many restaurants come with a mission statement, but then Silo isn't just any restaurant. Dubbed the UK's first zero-waste cafe, the idea is in the title. The crux of founder Douglas McMaster's intention? To serve locally sourced and ethically grown food, without generating waste. When people hear the term zero-waste often it leaves notions of rotting food and empty stomachs, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The experience Silo offers manages to be both sophisticated and relaxed, with an approachable and open attitude to accompany the exceptionally presented dishes.
Upon arriving at the restaurant we were promptly seated by one of the two friendly waitresses. The nice thing about Silo is they make you feel as if you are the most important person in the place. Complimentary cucumber water and homemade bread had as rubbing our eyes in disbelief. If you've never tried cucumber water let me tell you now, there's something about adding those little green slices that sends things spiralling down a path you're bound to get hooked on. All of the drinks are served in jam jars, which though some have claimed is now fairly niche, added a personal touch that sits well among the hand written chalk board menus. There is an impression that great effort has been put into each minute detail. That's before even mentioning the bread, which is homemade on site using their very own flour mill. You can tell from the taste - closer to eating a malt loaf, with a rich spongy texture and beautifully churned butter on the side. We'd already been made to feel fully satisfied before even receiving our food.
The menu at Silo is simple. Four key aspects mean that you're not spoilt for choice, but what this means is that each meal is meticulously crafted with great consideration. A wide choice of juices (and the creamiest latte I've ever come across) as an accompaniment mean there's still room for variation on each visit. Being able to watch the chefs make the food in front of you is also a welcome treat. Cooking to this standard is a craft, the presentation becoming more of an art form than an afterthought.
Continuing the individuality of the experience, our food was brought to us by Douglas himself, head chef and owner of Silo, who then proceeded to explain the idea behind the dishes. I went for the risotto, the method of which I was talked through swiftly. I discovered that the brown rice was cooked much in the same way as normal risotto, until the last moment when a paste was added, giving it extra flavour. The cheese was homemade using the leftover milk from the coffee machine, while the mushrooms were grown in the restaurant (displayed in full sight in the other room for the more curious of diners like myself) from the excess coffee grounds. The risotto was the richest I have come across, containing just the right amount of flavour to leave my taste buds quite literally tingling. The juices were happily mopped up by the bread, leaving no trace at all. The quality of the food itself could make claims for there being zero-waste, but in the unlikely situation that there is leftover food it is all made into compost and gifted out to local farmers and friends. I entered into silo expecting to leave with a clear conscience at the least and was met with an experience unlike any I have found before when dining out. The care that is found at every turn means that customers will come back time and time again. This really should be the future of eating out, for it makes all the other establishments appear decidedly in the dark ages.