Eco-friendly eats: Five sustainable Dublin food spots

It’s sustainability month on Image.ie so the perfect time to round up some brilliant food businesses that are going that extra mile when it comes to sustainability and pushing boundaries in what can be a very wasteful industry. While it’s great to see more mentions of free range, local and biodynamic on menus, being sustainable is more concerned with the bigger picture. There should be a focus making things better for suppliers, workers, customers and the business. It’s no mean feat and sustainability means many different things to each business but here are five Dublin spots that are working hard to make a difference while still making sure taste is paramount...

Airfield Estate and Overends Kitchen

It doesn’t get more farm to fork, a super sustainable way to source, than at Overends Kitchen in Airfield Estate, a working farm, gardens and exceptional café handily located in Dundrum. They grow their own produce used in the cafe, from the beautiful surrounding garden and fields. Any food waste from the cafe goes into compost for the farm or to feed animals. The fields are full of goats, sheep, chickens, pigs & Jersey cows. An extensive cafe menu is packed with thoughtfully sourced ingredients - milk, meat, fruit, veg and eggs coming from the Estate and a few local suppliers such as Higgins Sausages, Leinster Honey, McCabes Coffee and Gubbeen Farmhouse. A wonderful example of how to connect table to farm in the city.

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Heron & Grey, 19a Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Sustainable and Michelin may not seem to be natural bedfellows but this exceptional 26 seater Blackrock restaurant seem to have found a brilliant balance. The menu focuses on local, seasonal and inventive Irish ingredients and then booking system, with deposit scheme and strict timing policy, means they are always in control of exactly how many people they are feeding, resulting in minimal food waste. Only opening four days a week means their staff get proper days off, often a rarity in this world. Earlier in the year they did some 'Waste Nothing' dinners where they cleared out the back stock and their freezer to produced a tremendous 11-course meal, ensuring they had used up all food before closing the restaurant for a rest and research break. Wonderful to see such innovation in food and approach.

3FE Grand Canal Street & Sussex Terrace, Dublin 4

This ambitious company have been pushing sustainable coffee for the last few years in Dublin and beyond, roasting their own beans and always knowing where the coffee comes from and knowing the farmers get paid properly. As the business continues to grow they are working hard to make everything as sustainable as they can with lots of interesting things happening in their kitchens. A concise menu features some superb local suppliers meats from The Whole Hoggs, Tolka Valley Eggs, The Village Dairy, Little Cress greens, fish from Sustainable Seafood Ireland and Bread Nation. Vegetable trimmings are transformed into vegetable ferments like hot sauce, sauerkraut and kimchi. Leftover bread and cake corners become tasty cake truffles. Bones from roast chicken for sandwiches are used to make stock for their soups. Coffee grinds are available for customers and suppliers to take for their own compost. These guys are not afraid of experimentation so watch out for even more innovative and sustainable approaches.

The Fumbally, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8

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Housed in a space that was meant to be offices, they transformed the blank interiors with fantastic Dublin Flea finds, keeping the kitchen and food very much on show. Their food first, locally sourced, slow approach to ethical eating and drinking makes for an accomplished cafe menu and a brilliant base for a sustainable approach to running a cafe. Vegetables from McNallys Farm, Gubbeen cheese & ham, Highbank Orchard syrup, Le Levain sourdough all feature. They make all their own drinks, pickles and ferments recently becoming self sufficient in vinegars made from the leftover juicing pulp. They use mostly use single origins coffees and make their own sunflower milk. Coffee grinds are donated to a community garden in Kilmainham. Keep an eye out for their weekly Wednesday suppers where a different chef will put together a menu of what is inspiring them at the moment, working with local suppliers, seasonal availability and personal passion.

Bujo, 6 Sandymount Green, Dublin 4

Fast food can so often be a wasteful way eat with speed and price usurping sustainability but this is far from the case at Bujo, a neighbourhood, counter service burger joint in Sandymount. All packaging, including the disposable ‘plastic’ cups (which are actually made from plants) and cutlery, is 100% compostable, the electricity used is 100% renewable and even the staff t-shirts are sourced from a humane and ethical manufacturer. BuJo is the only burger-centric restaurant in all of Ireland & the U.K. to achieve a 3 Star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Then there’s the food grass-fed local beef burgers are served along with the Bujo Vegan Burger, an organic vegan patty with spiced hummus developed by vegan chef Mark Senn (of Veginity and Vish Shop). The burgers are generous, American style and served with your fries and shakes on retro metal trays. Everything is well thought out and tastes good.

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