Restaurant Nolla – The First Zero Waste Restaurant in Helsinki

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A Serb, a Catalan and a Portuguese man walk into a bar… what do you get? The first zero waste restaurant in Helsinki! Yesterday, I finally got to try out Restaurant Nolla. What an amazing experience! This restaurant was founded by three guys, who all have a long history in fine dining around the world, who wanted to create a sustainable and innovative restaurant concept, which would work in a closed waste management loop.

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According to the restaurant’s website (https://www.restaurantnolla.com/eng), an average restaurant produces around 70 000 kg of waste per year. These three guys are working towards significantly reducing that. One way they do that is by having installed the first mega-efficient compostor in their premises. This compostor turns 20 kg of organic waste into 2 kg of ready-to-use compost in just 24 hours! This means that everything the food scraps from cooking to the corks on the wine bottles can be turned into soil super quickly. The soil is then given back to the farmers when they come around to the restaurant with their (organic and unpackaged) produce. This closes the food waste loop. Guests can also take a bit of compost home in a paper bag, if they wish!

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The restaurateurs have not left out a single detail. Even their water glasses are made of old glass juice bottles, which I’m told originate from the president’s palace! The bottoms of old wine bottles are used as butter dishes, there is zero waste bar soap in the loos, their beer is made of reused bread etc. It’s really inspiring!

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The owners of the restaurant are very open to working with other restaurants and zero waste players as well, in innovating around waste reduction. I know they have been working with e.g. Lassila & Tikanoja on their Hävikkimestari app, designed to help restaurants reduce their food waste (https://havikkimestari.lassila-tikanoja.fi).

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And as for the food… bliss! I can safely say I had the best pike-perch of my life last night. It was prepared on a wood-burning grill and was just mouthwateringly good. The food is planned around local and organic produce and will vary according to availability. This also makes the menu versatile and exciting and means it’ll be fun to keep going back to see what these guys come up with next. 🙂

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The hosts themselves were also just wonderful. Nothing pompous, very kind, and when I asked to see the compostor in the middle of the busiest period of Friday night, my request was immediately accommodated, without a second of hesitation. I was really impressed and cannot recommend this place highly enough. If you’re in town, go check them out on Liisankatu 2, in Kruununhaka!

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