When I say this is an idealistic restaurant, I am not referring to the chef’s commitment to local produce or traditional cookery: the idealism in question is socio-political. I ate a lunch here of vegetable curry, followed by apple and pear crumble and a help-yourself bowl of fruits. It was delicious and it was free – or it could have been had I not the means to pay. This is an all-inclusive restaurant, by which they mean no one is excluded: if you’re broke and hungry, no problem; if you’re not broke but still hungry, help your fellow citizens by chipping in. This not-for-profit enterprise is playing a part in mending our divided society by offering food on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
But it is also tackling another problem close to my heart: food waste. All the ingredients are ‘intercepted’ surpluses from the wholesale and retail food chain. Each day, the chef creates a new menu, based on what is available, thereby reducing waste and carbon footprint, the typical excesses of our system. I ate in the cheerful restaurant staffed by volunteers but, if you prefer, you can carry out your lunch. Either way, you know it will be good for you – and for society.