There’s a pressure point about six inches above the knee on the inside leg that, in ninjutsu parlance, is called the “naisai”. This is where I’ve just punched myself. Why? As punishment for not visiting Silo sooner.
I was recently invited to the Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards, and while queueing at the bar I overheard someone say “Why aren’t Silo here?” “They’re probably too busy composting,” came the response. Good for them, I say. Why be slacking off with a craft ale when there’s composting to be done? Anyway, I won’t reveal who I voted for, but if I’d been to Silo by this point, I would have ticked their box without hesitation.
Like lots of the best things in life, my trip to Silo was conceived in an off-the-cuff lightbulb moment on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. I certainly wasn’t planning a review, so I didn’t take notes or pump the manager and chefs for details on the ingredients like I normally would. Hopefully I’ll return for a more in-depth analysis another time.
So… we’re all familiar with Silo’s streamlined, holistic, zero-waste reuse/recycle policy, aren’t we? (if not, read this). No need to regurgitate that, then. All I’ll say is that we need these people. You won’t get a pair of plastic straws in your kefir here. They won’t bury you under a napkin mountain. And, as you would expect from the type people who are saving the world, they’re all really really nice.
I had been told, by an anonymous friend, that Silo was run by in-your-face hippies who gave you a lecture on sustainability if you dared to ask for a Coke. Personally, I have no problem with this; I realised I was a hippie when I bought some wind chimes in the Native American shop on Kensington Gardens. Anyway, the staff are lovely, although there is a sign behind me saying “Trash is for tossers.” “Right on,” I think. Or should that be “B right on?”
We grab some bread to start. And, like some tripped-out acid casualty, I spend a couple of minutes staring at the way the butter oozes in and out of the wee air holes when I squeeze it. But then I’m dragged out of my Andy Warhol bubble fantasy by the wine…
The waiter recommends the Davenport Bacchus, from Kent, but I’ve had that one before so I opt for the longer-air-miles choice of the Spanish Jane Ventura Macabeo. It’s a new one on me, and it’s ace. Grassy and fresh, like a high-quality Sauvignon Blanc. It doesn’t last long, so I order another before the food arrives.
I choose chicken with crispy, fluffy-on-the-inside Jerusalem artichokes, sitting on a rich green tangy, garlicky jus (I think that’s what it is, anyway). Excuse the colourful language here, but I recall my words are “f@ck me, that’s amazing”. Luckily, the rational part of my brain kicks in just in time to realise that re-creating the restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally would be inappropriate.
I have the same response to my friend’s rich, cheesy risotto (which seems to be accessorised with a halo of the same heavenly green liquid). The salad with kale, lemon juice and garlic oil is equally feisty. Who’d have thought a salad could bite back like that?
A lot of places promise big flavours, but don’t deliver. These are big flavours. Admittedly, I’m drinking my water from a jam jar, but still… HUGE flavours, with a side order of composting. The only problem I have with the place is that it’s given me a dead leg. But then I only have myself to blame for that.
Silo, can be found in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine at 39 Upper Gardner Street BN1 4AN
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