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Monday, June 8, 2009

How to Find the Ultimate Green Dining Experience

When it comes to serving a chilled glass of biodynamic Merlot or providing a romantic setting with energy-efficient lighting, an increasing number of luxury restaurants are embracing the concept of dining green. From the food they serve to their manicured lawns, take note that some of the best sustainable experiences come from a luxury restaurant with the Green Restaurant Association seal of approval. What is the Green Restaurant Association (GRA)? The GRA is a national non-profit organization that offers restaurants, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers an easy and cost-efficient entryway into the world of environmental responsibility. In order to become certified by the Green Restaurant Association, an already established business, new venture, or the foodservice portion of an event must satisfy standards ranging from water efficiency to sustainable foods. The GRA relies on a point system to determine worthy businesses. For example, since an average restaurant can use 300,000 gallons of water per year, the organization encourages water efficiency and conservation in food service facilities. As a result, the GRA awards points for low water landscaping that covers 50% of site area (3), greywater reuse in plumbing system (7.25), and waterless urinals (4.25). Celebrity Green Restaurant Buzz When it comes to attracting the rich and famous, there is no denying the star power of Batali-Bastianich restaurants. Celebrity chef Mario Batali and biodynamic winemaker Joseph Bastianich are known in luxury dining circles as a sustainable force. Satisfying the GRA certification standards is no easy feat, but six Batali-Bastianich restaurants stretching from Los Angeles to New York accomplished the task with flying colors. Most recently, the B&B Ristorante, Enoteca San Marco, and Carnevino in Las Vegas joined the Del Posto in New York, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles in receiving honors from the GRA. Some of the sustainable features they've implemented include:
  • Food waste composting program
  • Full-scale recycling
  • Bottled water elimination
  • Use of non-toxic cleaning chemicals
  • Water and energy-conserving spray valves in their kitchens
  • Recycled paper menus
  • No Styrofoam
  • Energy-efficient hand dryers
Additional restaurants that have received high marks from the GRA: George's at the Cove (La Jolla, California) – breathtaking ocean views and relaxing indoor setting Lumiere (West Newton, Massachusetts) – dishes with a French influence Bamboo Sushi (Portland, Oregon) – sustainable fish and highest grade of beef served The Bagel Bin Cafe (Rochester, New York) – Serves spicy salmon wrap and gourmet bagels Roti Mediterranean (Chicago, Illinois) – Moroccan rice bowl and Mediterranean lemon chicken soup To learn more about how luxury restaurants become a significant member of the sustainable community, the Green Restaurant Association has created a PDF outlining their standards and point system. To locate GRA-certified eateries in your neck of the woods, use their restaurant locater. Photo Credits: Enoteca San Marco (t) and George's at the Cove (b)

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