Conscious Cuisine: 10 Restaurants That Serve Sustainability on a Plate
Mein Küchenchef, Köniz
He has found a recipe against food waste – or rather: several delicious recipes. Just a short walk from the Köniz train station is Switzerland's first “anti food waste” restaurant, Mirko Buri’s “Mein Küchenchef”. Every year, a massive 20 tonnes of vegetables are turned into yummy and healthy meals here – usually surplus produce from local farms or vegetables that are too small, too misshapen, or too large for the supermarkets’ conditions. From Monday to Friday, the team at “Mein Küchenchef” creates seasonal takeaway menus consisting of 15 creations that could not be any further from uninspired, never changing canteen food. Just thinking of the pulled pork burger in a sweet potato bun with BBQ sauerkraut, aromatic garlic sauce, and crispy fries makes our mouths water! Good to know: the lunch menu changes daily and is always vegetarian.
So long, food waste!
It doesn’t get any more sustainable than this: at the "Werkhof" in the Liebefeld neighbourhood in Köniz, only products that have grown (up) in Switzerland are used and served. This begins long before the finished meal with Swiss food for the animals and extends all the way to the grand finale of the ambitious three to five-course evening menus: there is no regular coffee, but rather an infusion of lupins from the Seeland region – a must-try! To keep ingredients fresh, preserve the aroma, and protect the environment, the delivery routes are kept as short as possible, and it goes without saying that the “Werkhof” team tries to use as many parts of the animals and vegetables as possible. A conscious and respectful way of treating the products also includes making many of their own ingredients, including a variety of preserves, vinegar, and butter. At lunchtime, "no food waste" meals at a reduced price are just as much part of the menu as pasta and vegetarian dishes.
A temporary restaurant with ideas that are here to stay: everything that enters the kitchen of the bistro at 46 Muesmattstrasse in the Länggasse neighbourhood is organic, seasonal, regional, or even straight from the restaurant’s very own little allotment. The beliefs of the restaurant located next door to the Unitobler building include a resourceful use of ingredients. Food waste doesn’t stand a chance – only meat from regional, fair rearing or organic Swiss meat does. Speaking of chances: in the context of an inclusion project of the Förderorganisation Blindspot, people with and without disabilities work side by side, hand in hand, and at eye level at Provisorium46. An authentic, lively meeting and eating place that’s always moving and improving and coming up with new, innovative ideas for its guests.
Definitely heading to Provisorium
So much for stale old habits: in the Eiger, stale bread has been known to make an appearance as pasta in a lasagna dish, for example. Things can get just as surprisingly creative in “Rübis & Stübis”, a homemade speciality that's fresh and different every noon and evening – and a real revelation. There's definitely no lack of culinary creativity at the Eiger: to cut down on food waste, the five “Eiger Basis” dishes at lunch come in two portion sizes – if you're hungry, you’ll gladly be given a second helping. Or you can just expand your “Eiger Basis” to a “Eiger Gipfel”, adding an assortment of delicious little treats. At lunchtime, two specials are also available as takeaways in reusable or recyclable containers. For supper, guests can choose between a varied à la carte menu and the “Eiger Teilet”, an eight-course sharing meal for two or more featuring dishes that are cold, warm, savoury, and sweet. Really, so much for old habits.
Climb the Eiger
Nomen est omen – and that doesn’t just go for the name, but also for the food concept of the relaxed restaurant in the Breitenrain neighbourhood. The simple dishes can do without finicky decorations, but not without fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. And these products don't need any extravagance to impress the guests: a ragout with organic Swiss lamb, for example, is not something commonly found on a daily basis in other restaurants – at LOKAL, however, it is. The same applies to the wines that are almost exclusively from small vineyards belonging to vintners who work biodynamically. An added bonus for the warmer months is the little garden in front of and next to the house, a cozy neighbourhood oasis that attracts current and future regulars.
An idyllic, lush oasis in the north of the city: The Zehendermätteli lies on the Enge peninsula in one of the bends of the Aare river. It’s a wonderful place to relax, refuel, and enjoy a yummy meal. We could spend hours in the shade of the trees in the large garden or on the covered terrace, sipping coffee, indulging on a slice of homemade cake, and listening to the birds. In cooler weather, head inside and treat yourself to the fresh seasonal specialities at the charming bistro. How about some home-smoked, dry-cured ham from organically raised Zehndermätteli pigs with Pecorino fresco or a wafer-thin organic fennel carpaccio, for example? And the vegetables and herbs are guaranteed to be fresh, as they come from the nursery that’s right next door to the restaurant.
First a soup made from seasonal vegetables, then a warm lentil salad with crispy herb mushrooms, lemony potatoes and wasabi mayonnaise, and a slice of delicious chocolate cake for dessert: that’s what a three-course menu (“Dreigänger”) might look like at Dreigänger. The restaurant, which makes sure its meals are very reasonably priced and contain only seasonal and regional organic ingredients, is part of the Drahtesel project in the Liebefeld neighbourhood in Köniz, which offers temporary jobs to unemployed people, coaching, education, and vocational training in different fields of work, from the metal workshop to the bike shop – and the great restaurant. On Wednesdays, they fight food waste by planning the menu accordingly, and on Fridays, there’s a mysterious surprise menu. Our recommendation: make sure you’ve got enough time to pop into their second-hand store before or after you eat.
Off to Dreigänger
Freibank Speis & Trank
Move over, tenderloin: at Freibank Speis & Trank, creamy stews, hand-made sausages, and traditional boiled beef salads take centre stage. The principle of using less popular or forgotten cuts of meat and the listed house in the Wankdorf City neighbourhood go together like bacon and sauerkraut: In the weighing house of the former slaughterhouse complex, the butchers used to sell “only partially suitable” meat at the “Freibank” counter. It came from animals that were put down – usually because of an accident – and therefore had to be examined with extra care, making the meat that made it to the counter top-quality. So it’s understandable that in today’s Freibank, too, a holistic and sustainable approach to meat is important, and they use only products from a selection of nearby farms. By the way: it’s also a great restaurant for vegetarians – how about a burger made of Epsach lentils with a rosehip chutney, for example?
Eating at Freibank
Hallers Brasserie tout le monde
Sustainability is just as much a part of Hallers Brasserie in the Länggasse neighbourhood as the warm and friendly welcome. It is a recurrent theme for all aspects of the restaurant, which serves healthy, creative seasonal dishes made from top-quality regional ingredients: be it beef from animal-friendly, species-appropriate rearing, Bernese artichokes, or "Nidle” (cream) from the dairy – the good ingredients from regional producers and farms are carefully selected. Social sustainability is just as important at Hallers Brasserie: disadvantaged adolescents are given internships, where they learn everything about the fascinating world of gastronomy and discover professional perspectives in this pilot project of the Steinhölzli Foundation. At Hallers Brasserie, "tout le monde" is welcome – and instantly feels at home in the lively, cheerful, and open-minded neighbourhood bistro.
Head to Hallers
At Café Kario in the Lorraine neighbourhood, quality is not only a culinary statement on the plate, but also in the glass. It may not offer a huge variety of beers, but they are and always have been special: since opening in 1998, this iconic cultural venue has always included products from small Swiss breweries, which were hardly known or noticed before the beginning of the craft beer boom just a few years ago. The consistently seasonal, organic cuisine only uses ingredients from trusted local partners and suppliers. The Kairo is known for its highly popular hamburger and falafel dishes – and it’s so hard to say which one is better... It’s probably best to just try both. And even better to do so several times. The same goes for the events: many musicians and bands launched their careers in Café Kairo’s basement – and are happy to stop by every once in a while.
Cairo is in Bern
Even more sustainable gastronomy
This list is obviously not complete, there are many other sustainable restaurants.
Zum Blauen Engel, Länggasse neighbourhood
Restaurant Waldheim, Länggasse
Restaurant Ringgenberg, Bern
Casa Novo, Bern
Restaurant Cinématte, Bern
La CULTina, Bern
O Bolles, Bollwerk
Restaurant Haberbüni, Liebefeld
Bären Buchsi, Münchenbuchsee