Douglas Blyde says: “”Aiming to deliver a primitive food system which reduces food miles and boosts nutrients, Silo began in Australia when artist, Joost Bakker proposed the idea of “not having a bin”. The restaurant opened in Brighton before moving to the albeit hard-to-find, classy loft above the Crate brewery overlooking the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Chef, Douglas McMaster, whose CV includes Noma and St. John, leads the brigade in tandem with sommelier, Ania Smelskaya, previously of Sager and Wilde, Hackney Road and Silo Brighton.
Waste is most resourcefully banished, hence, food not consumed by guests or the team is quickly composted in an aerobic digester, while packaging, including wine boxes are immediately unpacked on arrival and sent back to the supplier. There is also an impressive on-site flour mill and butter churn. Menus are printed on paper formed from former single-use coffee cups, and lampshades are created from bottles crushed on-site or textured mycelium grown on spent brewing grains. The kitchen makes its own miso from sourdough at the fermentation station.
Venturesome diners should allow the Saint Petersburg born Smelskaya to match drinks to the six-course menu, served on plates, beautifully upcycled from plastic bags, on tables that are made of reconstituted food packaging. Smelskaya, who has also lived in Sweden, proclaims cider is the new wine. Hence the no added sugar cider from Devon’s Find and Foster, “who find and foster old orchards”, may be paired with a sharp, palate awakening snack of a prune, boiled, dehydrated then rehydrated in elderflower pickle and served with luxurious egg yolk fudge. Then, perhaps unfiltered, biodynamic rosé Rondo from Rye (Tillingham) with brown Brixham crab and brined Castelfranco lettuce. With poached artichoke and fermented “punched-up” kimchi-like artichoke, Smelskaya might choose a naturally sparkling Cahors Malbec poured from a bottle featuring come hither or stay clear cats eyes depending on your perception. (La Calmette Nycia Lope).
Smelskaya has devoted significant attention to orange wines, which, being “structured and versatile can go with the whole menu,” she says. These range from light and “un-scary” to perhaps surprisingly popular “full-on, ‘skinsy’ ones” including the rust-coloured Assyrtiko from a brother and sister team at Greece’s Domaine Ligas. “Its caramelised roundness complements the dish of caramelised whey, pink fir potatoes and red flesh apple.”
And to combat the concept that young meat is better than that from an animal which has used its muscles for longer, braised ribs from seven-year-old cows are spectacularly tender. This may be matched with a lush passe-tout-grains Pinot Noir/Gamay (Les Vercheres, Domaine Rougeot) poured from a many times re-used bottle refilled from a keg.
Smelskaya’s current darling region is the Jura, and picks include the grappa-like Chardonnay, Macvin du Jura (Domaine de la Tournelle), which smells brutal but tastes smooth with an almond paste-like flavour spectrum which persists on the palate to the next day. It is best enjoyed overlooking the embers of the open kitchen with buttermilk dulce de leche and pumpkin seed ice cream.
Smelskaya enjoys hosting private dinners in the adjacent Resident’s Studio with producers such as Austria’s Gut Oggau, which she describes as “the producer with the face labels”.
Also note the big brunch game at weekends, served with cider and Pét-Nat.
When not at Silo, Smelskaya enjoys P. Franco’s “fun French ambiance and art – they have nice wines and know my taste.””
Find out more about Silo here.