I arrived late to my first volunteer meeting with the Heroes of Responsible Dining team, thus I missed the short introductions. I only knew Judit, one of the founders of the responsible dining heroes, she was already absorbed in a conversation at the other end of the table. After introducing myself shortly, I turned to the counter gracefully to order a tea in order to ease the anxiety. The nice bartender started cross-examined me: “Would you like a fair-trade or a non-fair-trade tea?”. What is the adequate answer to this question from a new responsible dining hero? Of course I asked for a fair-trade tea and started the cross-examination of my conversation partner. To my embarrassment, he had to informe me about the background of the event I attended. The Heroes of Responsible Dining have organized a Carrotmob event for the fifth time, this time in the FILO bar. The essence of the event is that the participating venues allocate a certain percenteg of their income on a given day to an environmentally conscious develpoment. In this case, it was the procurement of environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies –from Hungarian manufacturers.
During our short exchange, it has become clear that I was not at an average place. Thus I shortly arranged a meeting with the nice bartender who is also the co-owner of the bar.
Marci and one of his friend, Miki came up with the idea of the bar about two years ago and six months later the construction started. The bar opened in June, 2014. The two agile and talented men who are also enthusiastic about environment protection, wanted to combine their passion and business. It has worked out.
The core of their philosophy is to create a sustainable bar and restaurant. They advertise this proudly and consciously on their Facebook page. “Where does all this enthusiasm come from towards the topic?” – I ask. Marci explains the following: “I was raised “green”as a child. I had an influential head master in grammar school with whom I still maintain contact. Our school organized many programs like excursions to national parks, and I was brought up in the suburbs with a lot of green space around. I traveled to Western countries with my parents where selective waste collection was already widespread. Thus I grew into this mindset.”
“What makes your place a sustainable bar and restaurant?” – goes my second question on the small terrace with pleasant atmosphere. This one was followed by a 45-minute long conversation, so as you can imagine, the list is long. “The chair you are sitting on and the tables were made of recycled materials. For the floor of the terrace we re-used the remaining materials of the former place in order to not to have to purchase new ones. We used organic paints on the terrace walls which were made from natural coloring materials. We started a campaign that was joined by other restaurants in the neighborhood: a cigarette bud collection campaign (so-called Bud Brigade). The collected buds are collected by a company called Terracycle which processes and recycles them. The filter is plastic, thus new plastic products are made of them. The remaining tobacco is used for compost. Our plan is that everyone who brings a bag full of buds will receive a 10 percent discount. Any restaurant can join the program. This project is already running. I saw a video on index.hu which gave me the idea. ”
The Heroes of Responsible Dining logo is shining proudly on the door. This logo can only be received by certified restaurants after filling in a questionnaire incorporating many aspects. When entering the visitor meets a room with a nice, minimalist design and a friendly staff. The atmosphere is friendly, and it’s an excellent choice for gathering with friends to sip some wine or good craft beers. To sum it up, everything can be found that is necessary for a lovely evening.
The menu consists of simple bar foods. I am also asking Marci about whether the kitchen is also sustainable. “We bought the newest, A + category from everything, we also have our own ice-making machine. We strive to purchase ingredients from small producers and we alter the menu according to the change of seasons. The eggs are from cage-free chickens. The poultry is delivered by a company called Gourmet Box. We solely buy chicken from them for now. They purchase the raw meet directly from the producer and they conserve it with the so-called sous-vide technology. The essence of the technique is that the meat is prepared at low temperature under vacuum and it is delivered in this vacuum package to the costumers. This is good for us as the meat can be longer stored without the use of preservatives and taken from the vacuum, we can get fresh, more flavorsome meat after cooking it for a short time. We are very proud, furthermore, of our pizzas that are made of whole grain spelt flour and of our whole grain croissant on our breakfast menu. We barely use oil for anything, only as much as the foods absorb. Thus the collection and placement of oil is not an issue. The bottles are recycled by our supplier, and we recycle everything else we can well, thus there is only a small amount of communal waste. We purchase the paper towels with a sustainable forestry certification, or we buy recycled products.”
The middle of the bar is occupied by a large counter where one can find further green solutions. To me the most interesting is the recovery of the waste heat produced by the machines. Waste heat is, for instance, the heat coming from the back of the fridge. This heat is redirected in a clever way under the flooring of the bar, and can be used for heating in the winter, and to reduce the heat pressure of the counter during the summer. Every tap is equipped with a so-called ‘perlator’ which reduces the water usage by 50 percent. I keep asking Marci about his motivation to innovate: the answer is cost-effectiveness for the businessman and environmental protection for the enthusiastic green citizen. “In fact, this is a win-win situation. These solutions are not costly, but on the contrary, some of them are cheaper than the ordinary version. In the long run these are lucrative measures both for our business and our environment.”
Cool design, friendly atmosphere, healthy and tasty food, remarkably environmental conscious solutions characterize this place – a refreshing green dot in Budapest’s party district.
Originally published in Hungarian on 20th Nov, 2014.
Lots of thanks to Stefi Kapronczay for the translation!