London, the spectacular capital city of England, a buzzing, multicultural city of contrasts and creativity. It’s a place that you can easily fall in love with and a place that can surprise you each and every day.
I fell in love with London when I was there recently. I fell in love with the atmosphere, the quirky backstreets, the markets, the nightlife, and especially the little communities that work together to make the city, and the world, a little brighter.
This month’s ethical eateries series brings you a list of my favourite eateries in London that are giving back to the community, including some very unique initiatives that I have yet to see anywhere else in the world.
If you’re in old London town pop into to dine at the following ethical eateries and support some of their wonderful causes.
Kahaila is a charming café in London’s infamous Brick Lane, located in the artistic eastern district of Shoreditch. If there could be anything better than their amazing selection of cakes and sweets it’s that they are a charity that supports a range of local community projects and charitable causes, including Luminary Bakery, a social enterprise giving employment opportunities to vulnerable women. Everything about Kahaila is ethical, from their fair trade coffee to the locally sourced ingredients in their yummy fresh sandwiches.
Top pick – Salted caramel brownie. You won’t be disappointed.
Waterhouse Restaurant is located on a beautiful canal side location in Hackney and is owned by Shoreditch Trust, a charity working to reduce social and economic disadvantage in London. Waterhouse works in partnership with Shoreditch Trust's Blue Marble Training Programme providing opportunities for local people to access careers in food. Go for the views, the cause and the food.
Top pick – The all-day veggie breakfast with haloumi.
CanDo Coffee is a social enterprise designed to enable disadvantaged and socially excluded people to become self-employed independent street traders. They have pop up coffee vendors at various locations across London including Hyde Park Corner, Paddington and Regents Park where you can pick up an ethically traded coffee while supporting the local community.
Top pick – All the coffee!
Possibly one of London’s most unique restaurants, The Clink, which is located in Brixton, is staffed by prisoners working towards qualifications in food preparation, food service and customer service, leading to employment in the UK hospitality industry upon release. Aside from the restaurant in Brixton, The Clink operates 3 other training restaurants, 2 horticulture schemes, and 1 event caterer. Over 800 prisoners have graduated from The Clink training projects to date.
Top pick - Roast red pepper polenta, chargrilled radicchio, red pepper purée, green beans and soy foam.
The Duke of Cambridge is Britain’s first and only certified organic pub. Located in Islington, this restaurant has all the features of a local pub, only with an added organic bonus and a bright, homely interior. The pub serves delicious organic food sourced from independent producers, with over 80% of their produce sourced in nearby counties. Keeping their environmental impact at a low, they recycle all glass, cardboard, paper and tins, food waste is collected for generating energy via an anerobic digestor and all furniture is second hand, repurposed or recycled.
Top pick - Butternut squash soup.
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen is a not for profit restaurant and bar near Old Street in Islington, London. The restaurant gives opportunity for unemployed young people to use their skills gained through the training programs provided by the Fifteen Apprentice Programme, an initiative started by Jaime Oliver in 2002 to provide opportunity to disadvantaged youth, particularly those who had fallen out of mainstream education and were in need of a fresh new start in life. Every year the restaurant recruits 18 people aged between 18-25 and trains them to become professional chefs in the industry.
Top pick - Risotto 'bubble & squeak', beer-pickled onion, Berkswell cheese.
Wahaca is one of London’s most famous Mexican eateries, with an extensive Mexican street food menu that brings us all the Mexican food we know and love. What’s great about Wahaca though is their commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly practices. In fact, Wahaca recently became the first restaurant group in the UK to be certified as a Carbon Neutral. Wahaca ensures that they source their food locally and responsibly, their restaurants are environmentally efficient and their staff are trained in sustainably. They even give you a pack of chillies to take home with you after your meal. How cute is that!
Top pick – Their signature guacamole, black bean & corn salsa tostada, topped with ancho chilli oil & feta
Dans Le Noir ? meaning ‘in the dark’ is a restaurant in London that provides a rather unique dining experience where visitors do just as the name suggests, dine in the dark. Situated in the charming area of Clerkenwell Dans Le Noir ? provides employment opportunities to the visually impaired allowing them to guide guests on a sensory journey through the dark restaurant.
Dans Le Noir ?’s aim is to provide “a human exchange, when, for once, the blind become our eyes to guide us into an intriguing new way of sensing our environment.” The restaurant also supports a number of local and international charities, including charities that support the visually impaired.
Top pick – We can’t say because the menu is always a surprise.
Have you been to any other ethical eateries in London? Let us know by leaving your comments in the section below.