Earth Day is coming up on Sunday, April 22nd, and is a great time to celebrate the environment, as well as local restaurants that are dedicated to using sustainable actions to create delicious food! Here are a few wonderful local restaurants that boast impressive sustainability initiatives!
Independent Restaurant Concepts
Plastic straws are on the hot seat in Portland right now. Starting April 1st, Independent Restaurant Concepts, the restaurant group behind North 45 Pub, Paddy’s Bar & Grill, Circa 33, Cadillac Cafe, Produce Row, The Independent Sports Bar & Grill, Patton Maryland and The Station Public House will commit to no longer serving drinks with straws. This bold action will make IRC the first restaurant group in Portland to go straw-free! CEO and Co-owner Jim Hall took note of the environmental impact of straws on a recent outing to the coast with his family and noticed straws littering the surf and decided to commit to eliminating plastic straw use in his businesses.
In addition to their commitment to cut out plastic straws, all IRC restaurants also engage in recycling and composting to reduce waste, and choose locally grown products whenever possible. Cadillac Café, The Station Public House, and Patton Maryland even have a herb and produce gardens. Produce Row Cafe and Patton Maryland also offer several bike racks to encourage guests to cut down on their own carbon footprint, and all locations have been committed to compostable and recyclable to-go containers for many years!
The Country Cat
Adam and Jackie Sappington of The Country Cat take food waste seriously. Adam is one of Portland’s biggest proponents of whole animal butchery and works hard to ensure 100% of the animals he cooks are used, bones and all! This dedication pays off with the creation of hearty dishes such as The Country Cat’s renowned Whole Hog that shows off Adam’s skill and versatility by using diverse cuts and wasting none of the animal. Their composting program ensures that at least 60% of their raw product is composted. In addition, the restaurant boasts a robust recycling program to help ensure as little waste ending up in the trash as possible.
Irving Street Kitchen
Irving Street Kitchen, owned by powerhouse female chef Sarah Schafer, is a pioneer of sustainability in restaurants. Recognizing the environmental problems associated with large-scale cattle farming, Irving Street not only source all of their meats from small local farms but was also one of the first restaurants in the city to begin offering the Impossible Burger, a plant-based meat-like patty that has a significantly smaller carbon footprint, in October of last year. The Impossible burger at Irving Street Kitchen is available at both brunch and happy hour as a miso-cashew cheese vegan patty melt!
The delicious whole animal cooking that Schafer specializes in leaves little to no waste and the restaurant is focused on maintaining a recycling and composting system to reduce waste in the restaurant.
Irving Street Kitchen cares about the health of our oceans and has eliminated disposable straws for over a year. It is highly important to Schafer that all fish is from quality sources, and not listed as a fish to “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide.
The restaurant has also tried to make their to-go orders more sustainable by offering compostable utensils and reusable mason jars for their butterscotch pudding. In addition, the restaurant pays to ship 100% of light bulbs, batteries, and corks for recycling.
The Waiting Room
New Orleans inspired restaurant, The Waiting Room participates in the Portland chapter of the Surfrider foundation’s #DitchTheStrawPDX campaign, and offer reusable straws upon request to reduce plastic waste in our Oceans and waterways. Chefs Thomas Dunklin and Kyle Rourke also source all their produce from local organic farmers that follow sustainable practices including Your Kitchen Garden, Sauvie Island Organics, and Nevor Shellfish in Netarts Bay to provide the delicious oysters they are known for! The restaurant’s oysters and other seafood items are always compliant with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide.
The Waiting Room also has a comprehensive composting and recycling program in place, and even converts fry oil into biodiesel. Local and in season applies to more than the delicious food that is served at The Waiting Room, but all flowers in the restaurant are local and in season from organic farms that follow the same standard of sustainable practices as the purveyors that provide their produce!
Another restaurant trying to embody sustainable food is Chef Chris Cosentino’s Jackrabbit. The restaurant epitomizes the concept of whole product usage with their signature Coin Toss cocktail. The cocktail is served in a hollowed out grapefruit, and the pulp is juiced for fresh grapefruit juice. Their pastry program also uses the pressed pulp and pith to prepare Pâte de Fruit that is offered as a thank you to guests at the end of their meal, allowing guests to enjoy the entire product from the beginning to the end of their experience.
Both Chefs Cosentino and Chris DiMinno believe that there is use for every part of the animal, and premium cuts are served alongside trim and offal farces, sausages and charcuterie. Bones are used for soup stock, and no part of the animal is allowed to go to waste. Chef DiMinno can often be found hand-selecting produce for the restaurant at the PSU Saturday market, and supports local farms like Groundwork Organic, Your Kitchen Garden, Gathering Together Farms, Square Peg and local mushroom foragers at Cascade Organics! The restaurant’s philosophy is to create an incredible experience and share the agricultural bounty surrounding Portland with its guests.
The restaurant also utilizes compostable paper straws for the bar program and plant-based biodegradable to-go wares!
Portland’s original craft brewery, BridgePort Brewing, is also very serious about their sustainability initiatives. BridgePort strongly believes in maximizing the effectiveness of their recycling to reduce waste destined for the landfill successfully. This program is so effective that the entire brewery and brewpub is able to run on one small dumpster that they share with their neighbors. BridgePort Brewing also has a strong composting system that separates out compostable materials from other waste, and sends their compost to sod farms that grow sod for the Seahawks stadium!
Other programs that BridgePort has implemented to reuse products include sending all spent grain from the brewing process of their beer, such as their famous Original IPA, to local dairies to feed their cattle. All glass from the restaurant along with surplus bottling is sent to a local bottling manufacturing plant to create new bottles, and a wastewater treatment system helps them save water by separating out fryer oil that is then turned into biodiesel!
Bar Casa Vale
Bar Casa Vale uses the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide for all of the fish cooked in their restaurant to stay at the forefront of sustainability. They also use bycatch and invasive species that usually go to waste and use whole animal cooking to ensure every part of the fish gets used every time.