The restaurants striving to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible by growing herbs, wild flowers, vegetables and fruits on their own rooftops and gardens
1 Ham Yard Hotel
Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel is part of the Firmdale hotel chain owned by interior designer Kit Kemp and her husband Tim. It’s only moments away from Mayfair and Piccadilly Circus but you would never know once you reach the large rooftop lounge area on the fourth floor, a leafy oasis presided over by two ancient olive trees, and surrounded by apple and pear fruit trees. Much of the produce grown here is served in the main restaurant downstairs. During the warmer months you will find strawberries, gooseberries, kale, rosemary and broccoli but the garden blooms all year round with a variety of seasonal flowers from poppies and lemon verbena to jasmine, creating a wild meadow. Raised beds made of railway sleepers and picket fencing form salad, herb and vegetable gardens – all in all it’s a green paradise. The large lounge area houses a bar and BBQ that serves freshly grilled Scottish langoustines, and rosemary and thyme rubbed Chateaubriand steak in the summer.
1 Ham Yard W1D 7DT; 020 3642 1007; firmdalehotels.com
2 The Dairy
The Dairy – sister restaurant to The Manor – is a modern British bistro known for its small, imaginative plates of food. The restaurant’s immense rooftop is home to four beehives, plus numerous vegetable beds and herbs housed in large recycled supermarket crates and polystyrene boxes. The garden is lovingly tended to by the restaurant’s chefs and kitchen porters who pick what they need twice a day before each service. Each dish is a harmonious elegant blend of homegrown ingredients: Courgette, basil & rooftop honey; Crispy chicken skins, St George’s mushrooms, fermented nettles & rape tops; and beeswax custard being just a few examples. The restaurant grows three-four different types of rocket, 10 types of mint (including pineapple and black), edible flowers like nasturtium and an abundance of herbs – everything from fiery fresh chives to marjoram and parsley. Vegetables grown on site include courgettes, cavalo nero (black cabbage), celery, beetroots, carrots and wild garlic. The restaurant opened a new delicatessen at the end of April, which sells much of their home-grown produce including the honey – keep an eye on the website for further details coming soon.
15 The Pavement, Clapham Old Town SW4 0HY; 020 7622 4165; the-dairy.co.uk
3 Pied à terre
If you want to impress a partner then take them to the Michelin-star restaurant Pied à Terre on Charlotte Street. Expect exceptional French cuisine, with a superb wine list, and staff who are attentive and welcoming too. Play close attention to the beautifully presented plates placed before you as you’re sure to find freshly picked edible flowers garnishing many of the plates. And it’s a good idea to opt for a herbal tea afterwards as the restaurant has a large selection of different mints, which staff handpick to make each tea.
34 Charlotte Street W1T 2NH; 020 7636 1178; pied-a-terre.co.uk
4 Craft London
The newly-opened Craft London deserves an accolade alone for the amount of effort the team puts into creating sustainably-produced food. Stevie Parle’s three-floor restaurant, bar, and café on Greenwich Peninsula development has its own smokehouse, butchery room and garden, plus even an gardener! The project opened in October 2014 with a café/roastery and has since expanded to a restaurant, cocktail bar and shop. The focus is on making quality produce from experts in their fields, and activities include the roasting of coffee, smoking of fish, bee-keeping, meat curing, fermentation of vegetables and the creation of a contemporary kitchen garden – impressive, we know! Outside the restaurant, there are 40 containers flourishing with edible flowers, baby vegetables and unusual herbs, such as myrtle, hyssop and many kinds of mints for tea. An orchard outside the restaurant also provides apples.
Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula SE10 0SQ; 020 8465 5910; craft-london.co.uk
The 50-seat south-facing terrace at Caravan King’s Cross becomes a suntrap on a glorious summer’s day, offering people-watching opportunities aplenty over Granary Square. The restaurant’s herb garden is affectionately referred to as the ‘Border herbs’ as the planter pots form a green-hedged shelter around the terrace. Known for its modern café-style menu and its delicious all-day breakfast, Caravan King’s Cross uses a wide selection of herbs from its garden for its menu and cocktails. These include rosemary, sage and thyme as well as wild strawberry and fennel.
Granary Building, 1 Granary Square (Off Goods Way) N1C 4AA; 020 7101 7661; caravankingscross.co.uk
6 The Culpepper
Another venue with a garden for a rooftop is Spitalfields’ The Culpepper, a light-filled gastropub that has met with critical acclaim for its food. The team aims to harvest as much as they can from the 1,400 sq ft garden and say that ‘the likelihood is that if you visit the Culpeper, you’ll consume something from the rooftop, be that a garnish for your drink, a part of your dish, or something in your pickle.’ The plant list is immense covering varieties of apples, courgettes, tomatoes, kale, flowers, French beans and chillies. Salad leaves and herbs are grown all year round while hardier vegetables brave the colder winter months. There are currently plans to add dwarf trees and climbing fruit, plus a greenhouse, in the near future. There are even volunteering days and workshops teaching people how to grow veg and herbs in containers, make wormaries, and prune your produce. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
40 Commercial Street E1 6LP; 020 7247 5371; theculpeper.com
7 Adam & Eve
Adam & Eve has not one but three gardens that produce fresh herbs and vegetables for its diners in Homerton. Emma Weavers of Palais Flowers overseas the edible flower garden, a mix of seasonal and unusual flowers that garnish savoury and sweet plates. You’ll taste the fresh notes in everything from the tulips that boost the pub’s spring roast pork salad to the three varieties of freshly grown mint that make the pungent mint sauces for Sunday roasts. In addition, there are racks of organically grown micro herbs and salad leaves for summer dishes and a small greenhouse where small field vegetables like carrots, beetroots, turnips, kohlrabi and radishes are grown. The gardens are cared for by the chefs but support is given by Emma and grower Sean O’Neil. Best of all, nothing is left to waste. Any surplus is preserved via pickling, drying, curing, fermenting or used to flavour syrups, sugars, salts, oils and much more. The pub has even experimented making its own vinegars, and all scraps go into the compost to feed the garden; it’s eco-cooking that nurtures the soul as well as the stomach.
155 Homerton High Street E9 6AS; 020 8985 1494; adamandevepub.com
8 The Dysart Petersham
It’s worth venturing a little further afield for a meal at The Dysart Petersham. Everything about this Richmond restaurant oozes class from the impeccable service to the seasonal produce and idyllic surroundings, at their most fertile and green during summertime. The lovely south-facing garden becomes an alfresco dining spot in warmer weather. It’s a captivating location offering views of Richmond Park on one side and Petersham Woods on the other. Numerous flowers and shrubs are grown in the garden while a gardener tends to leeks, beetroots, chard, potatoes, and over 100 varieties of herbs at a larger premise in the village nearby. The food is delicious and exquisitely produced, and it’s easy to understand why as the restaurant adopts the Slow Food Movement’s approach to cooking, which aims to only using natural ingredients, grown or foraged locally.
135 Petersham Road, Petersham TW10 7AA; 020 8940 8005; thedysartpetersham.co.uk