From its kitchen garden restaurant near Bristol The Ethicurean serves a menu based on seasonal, ethical, locally grown produce. Championing sustainable food, The Ethicurean has won multiple awards including (to name a few) Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2013, Observer Best Ethical Restaurant 2011 & Runner Up 2012 and Compassion In World Farming Good Egg Award 2012.
Talking about sustainable food we often refer to the environment and the sourcing of the food. Yet, the social aspect of engaging the community around us might be forgotten. This is what makes The Ethicurean so special. As well as running a restaurant in the former glasshouse of Barley Wood Walled Garden, The Ethicurean regularly holds events in the garden and orchard to create a sense of place and community, re: imagining and updating our local rituals, histories and traditions.
The Flexitarian (TF) talks to Jack Adair-Bevan from The Ethicurean (TE) about what makes this restaurant such a special place.
TF – What does The Ethicurean mean?
TE – ethicurean is an adjective defining the pursuit of fine- tasting food while being mindful of the effect of one’s food production and consumption on the environment.
TF – What is the team and the inspiration behind it?
TE – We are four friends Jack Adair Bevan, Paûla Zarate, Matthew Pennington and Iain Pennington and we set up the restaurant in 2010. The Ethicurean is founded on a sense of place. This is the idea of having a connection with the native land, its history and the community who grow food locally upon it. Our family team seek to discover harmonious pairings between the ingredients that surround the walled garden. In our kitchen garden restaurant, we respect the local produce grown and sourced locally by using flavour combinations that have been partners for centuries. We look for ways to update and innovate historical recipes that highlight the bounteous nature of our land. Embracing the limitations of nature has, for us, spurred unbounding creativity.
TF – Do you source all your ingredients locally? and how do you define locally?
TE – The majority of the produce we use at The Ethicurean is grown in our garden by Mark the gardener. We then also buy vegetables from The Community Farm which is located a few miles away. All of our meat and eggs are free-range and Jack shoots most of the game used in the fields and woods around Barley Wood. The furthest we buy beef from is Gloucester.
TF – Which season is the most challenging?
TE – Every season has its challenges. Spring is known as the hunger gap with a very limited variety of produce available. This is the time when we deploy all of our pickled, fermented and clamped vegetables.
TF – Does your menu change daily?
TE – It certainly does as Mark will bring us fresh produce and any new leaves and varieties that may have come up.
TF – Which ethical standards have the fish and meat you serve raised to?
TE – Our meat is free range or wild and we are in direct contact with all of the farms. Our fish is from day boats in Cornwall or from the lakes around our restaurant.
TF – What type of dishes can one expect?
TE – Confit rabbit is paired with lovage breadcrumbs, Cured roe deer with wood sorrel, and foraged nettle soup with young Caerphilly cheese. The salads are as fresh as a daisy: beetroot carpaccio with honeyed walnuts; ewe’s curd and cucumber salad.
TF – Which heritage and heirloom varieties grown in The Ethicurean’s garden do you serve?
TE – Solar carrots
Albina ice beetroot
Paul Robeson tomatoes
Yellow submarine tomatoes
TF – Which other sustainability initiatives do you have in place?
– We try to operate a closed loop system between our kitchen and bar. This means passing ingredients back and forth that would otherwise go to waste.
– Coffee grounds used in the garden and as a substrate for growing mushrooms.
– Community apple pressings planned for next season.
– Community festivals at The Ethicurean- Summer Solstice and Wassail
Our Wassail and Summer Solstice sell out year after year we aim to create a sense of place and community through our food and events, re: imagining and updating our local rituals, histories and traditions.
TF – Tell us about your Cookbook
TE – The Ethicurean Cookbook seeks to reflect the growing trend for artisan food and local produce. It aims to take the reader on a journey through the seasons, whilst at the same time bringing to life the rich history of British food. “The Ethicurean Cookbook reflects the growing trend for artisan food and local produce and is truly an inspiration for how we should be sourcing our food and cooking at home over the next few decades.”
For more information about The Ethicurean please visit www.theethicurean.com