Edinburgh's l'escargot bleu becomes the UK's first Pasture for Life certified restaurant

A prestigious Edinburgh restaurant has extended its ethical credentials.

L‘escargot bleu – the 13-year-old French venue on Broughton Street, which recently opened a new downstairs wine bar – has just become the first restaurant in the UK to be certified by Pasture for Life, which supports and promotes producers of 100 per cent pasture-fed beef and dairy.

Fred Berkmiller, chef patron of l‘escargot bleu, said: “By choosing meat raised purely on pasture, we know it’s of a much higher quality, it’s healthier than grain-fed meat and it tastes better.”

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The 11-year-old association Pasture for Life said grazing animals had a restorative power on pasture – grassland that features other small plants – which improves biodiversity and ecosystems.

Fred Berkmiller

Mr Berkmiller said: “They not only treat animals well, but they also put goodness back into soils rather than depleting them, encouraging more wildlife.

“The food system in this country has become so industrialised that chefs like me struggle to source quality ingredients. I realised over a decade ago that things were only getting worse.

"If I am not supporting pasture-fed meat producers, and educating my customers and staff, who is? It’s becoming increasingly political, and joining Pasture for Life not only strengthens my relationships with suppliers, but it also sends a clear message to the restaurant trade that customers want the option to eat better meat.”

To become certified by this organisation, this restaurateur has demonstrated his commitment to using Pasture for Life certified farms. In Scotland, these include Peelham, where Mr Berkmiller sources veal, Grierson Organic, as well as Balcaskie Estate.

Pasture for Life executive director Jimmy Woodrow said: “The Pasture for Life story is one of community and ours has, unsurprisingly, come of age in the past couple of years. Our farmers wouldn't be able to do what they do without supportive butchers, chefs and retailers and, ultimately, members of the public.

"Chefs, in particular, have captured the public imagination in recent years and have a key role to play in communicating the story of farming to the public. We're delighted to have Fred and his team at l'escargot bleu on board and it's heartening for farmers to see such unflinching insistence on quality at a time when it would be understandable to look for the easy option.”

This is another ethical credential for the restaurant. Since reopening after lockdown, the venue has used only produce that is in season or which has fully-traceable provenance. They also grow their own at a local market garden, support many small producers and have improved working life for employees by restricting opening times to four days a week.

The menu changes regularly, though dishes might include Orkney scallops, homemade black pudding and red wine sauce, or apple and griottine clafoutis.

56 Broughton Street, Edinburgh (0131 557 1600, www.lescargotbleu.co.uk)

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