Ugly Butterfly, Cornwall: the sustainable restaurant chosen by the G7 leaders

It’s good to know that the G7 leaders actually pay attention to the sustainability of the restaurants they choose to dine in. This year they even went so far as to choose a restaurant that hadn’t opened yet and ask the team to open specially for them. The restaurant was the spectacularly located and modestly named Ugly Butterfly, a new opening by chef Adam Handling in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

Adam runs six restaurants and bars mostly in and around London with Ugly Butterfly the first one to be located further afield. Sustainability is at the heart of all of them. This is clear from their website, which states:

“Underpinning each concept is a fundamental commitment to minimising waste in this industry; we are passionate about promoting and educating people on how to eat and cook more sustainably, without ever compromising on flavour or enjoyment.”

But it is also clear to anyone who has ever been to one of their restaurants and spoken to their staff. You know when a business is true to its values when everyone that works there can speak passionately about them to anyone who visits. This is certainly true of Ugly Butterfly.

Right before lockdown I was working with the pop-up version of Ugly Butterfly in Chelsea on a project using Tried & Supplied to reduce waste in the supply chain and enable restaurants to purchase products that suppliers couldn’t sell through normal channels, but that were perfectly safe to eat or drink. The team was getting creative about giving beer that had been lost in a warehouse and passed its best-before a new lease of life as kombucha on their menu. The irony was that the beer itself had been made with bread that would have otherwise gone to waste! A perfect example of how you can extend the life of food and drink by transforming it into something else.

When the new Ugly Butterfly opened in Cornwall, I recommended it to some friends who were holidaying down there, and they came back effusive in their praise and gratitude for the recommendation. It was the highlight of their trip they said. I got a full download and lots of stunning photographs to make me green with envy!

One of the things they were most impressed by was the passion and knowledge of the staff there, who would consistently link their descriptions of the menu back to decisions around sustainability, explaining why particular ingredients had been chosen and how they had been prepared to minimise waste. Apparently the restaurant had recently been graced with the G7 leaders and the team had been able to discuss food sustainability with them too!

True to their group mission statement it was obvious that the team took their commitment to the flavour and enjoyment of the food just as seriously as the sustainability. According to my friends the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable contrary to their expectations for a fine dining restaurant and the food was truly excellent – exciting and interesting without being pretentious. Even the complimentary bread, pâté and butter selection was amazing!

The tasting snack menu was creatively presented – they were particularly intrigued by the way the cod sturgeon had been set in a mould. A lot of thought had clearly gone into how to balance the menu and stagger the delivery of it. All in all a wonderful experience that I’m sure would have similarly impressed the G7 leaders.

Below is the feast my friends enjoyed. Although it looks and sounds like a lot, it was apparently the perfect amount.

Tasting Snacks Selection (Beef & Kimchi, Cheese Doughnut, Potato and Caviar, Crab Coronation, Cod Sturgeon, Chicken Leg Caesar)
Tasting Snacks Selection (Beef & Kimchi, Cheese Doughnut, Potato and Caviar, Crab Coronation, Cod Sturgeon (the black wheel), Chicken Leg Caesar) plus half a dozen Cornish oysters.
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