Times restaurant critic Giles Coren describes his recently-published Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, as “a guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of the UK.” But what – apart from stonking food and wine – constitutes a “good” restaurant? Is it Michelin stars? A chef with celebrity status? Designer decor on both walls and plates? Or what?
The answer, according to Giles, is a restaurant whose food does good as well as tastes good. In recent years a growing number of chefs and restaurants have been emphasising local and seasonal produce, reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, supporting sustainable practice by farmers, producers and wine-makers, and being an active part of their communities. Helpfully, Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery tells you which they are.
“This is a new kind of restaurant guide for a new kind of restaurant world,” says Giles. “In the year that Blue Planet II brought home the oceanic catastrophe wrought by single-use plastic and all but killed off the disposable drinking straw in a single evening, it is just not tenable to buy food and drink anywhere now without an assurance that every possible effort has been made to – in the words of the Hippocratic Oath – “do no harm.””
Giles’ first principle of selection for the guide was, naturally, divine food. “No one crosses town for dinner because the restaurant recycles its grey water to feed the tomatoes on its roof, or makes its furniture from old plastic bottles,” says Giles. “We go for the crispy, gooey pizza, slightly charred at the edges and blobbed with nduja and sage… But with that assured, don’t we want to know that what they are doing in this place is good?”
By Giles’ own admission, the selection is far from exhaustive and definitive, just a first attempt. We will all know places that deserve to be in the guide, but are not (yet), and I know Giles and his associate editor Jules Mercer would be delighted to hear from you with any suggestions for the next edition.
Buy this guide as a Christmas present for every foodie you know, and you’ll be helping both the restaurants who care about the world they live in – and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), which helped Giles compite his list and to whom ten percent of the book’s revenues will go.
“With this guide people can vote with their forks and use the power of their appetites wisely,” says Andrew Stephen, the Chief Executive of the SRA which helps food-service businesses work towards sustainability.
Well done Giles, Thames&Hudson, and all the restaurants in this brilliant book. No longer do you need to leave your conscience at home when you eat out. I’m afraid it’s no secret what my friends and family are getting for Christmas!
Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery, A Guide to the Truly Good Restaurants and Food Experiences of the UK, Edited by Giles Coren, is published by Thames & Hudson, RRP £19.99 truthloveandcleancutlery.com
Here are a few of the restaurants which Giles has selected for inclusion in his book:
Sorella, 148 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4 sorellarestaurant.co.uk
“Dishes of an incredible quality, so focused, so well balanced, so adventurous and hearty. One of the most promising openings of 2018.”
Cafe Murano, 33 St James’s Street, London SW1 cafemurano.co.uk
“Angela Hartnett calls this a cafe, but the level of attention to detail, the skill in the cooking, the beauty of the presentation, and the professionalism of the staff bespeak far higher things – but without all the tosspottery of fine dining. Cafe Murano is Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery to the max!”
The Bookshop, 33 Aubrey Street, Hereford aruleoftum.com
“Thursday to Friday it’s cuts of dry-aged Herefordshire beef and other seasonal, local specialities. On Sundays it’s a roast they say is “better than your mum’s”, which we will gladly believe. Our mum mostly opens tins.”
The Whitehouse Restaurant, Lochaline, Morvern, Scotland thewhitehouserestaurant.co.uk
“For delicious, fresh and exciting fare that aids the community and does its bit to help the environment, a visit to The Whitehouse hits the spot.”
Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, London petershamnurseries.com
“We particularly admire their attention to waste management and recycling, which are by no means the most glamorous or visible aspects of the business… They are also committed to reducing food waste from their kitchens, prep from entire carcasses, and are committed to composting. They use imitation greaseproof paper made from sustainable forest paper and havde swapped from clingfilm to compostable bio-film.”