Food: Powered by Plants
Jude Clarke talks sustainability, Sunday lunches with a difference and “angelic” desserts with the brains behind Ely’s newest dining destination - 68 Market Street
Who are the team behind 68 Market Street?
Darren Tofts is the owner and director. A businessman who runs a successful logistics company in Queen Adelaide, just outside Ely, he’s a vegetarian who “got bored of there being little or limited choices as to where he could eat out”.
Stuart Tuck is head chef and in charge of menu development. A locally renowned and much respected chef who gained a huge following at The Blue Lion, Hardwick, he grew up in Cambridge and now lives with his family in a village near Ely.
Lizz Kendon is the general manager and driving force behind the overall concept. Locally-raised, she’s worked within the food and hospitality industry in the area for many years.
Talk us through the concept. . .
68 Market Street's menu showcases the wonderful produce this region grows, and Stuart and the kitchen team develop beautiful dishes within this remit.
The menu is plant-based, and rooted in sustainability. We haven't just thought about the food we use, we also choose our wines and beers in line with the ethos. The building work we did used reclaimed materials where possible. Our energy supplier is carbon neutral, our waste contractor is zero-to-landfill, our cleaning products are environmentally-friendly, and we recycle everything we can.
Moving towards locally sourced and seasonal eating, with a high vegetarian/vegan bias, along with reducing food miles and driving down food waste is something everyone can do to help combat climate change - being more conscious about buying habits, and being more conscientious about choices.
How long have you been open and what has the reaction been like?
We opened mid July and the reception has been fantastic! People are repeatedly dining with us, and bringing new friends back each time. To have diners wishing to return and “show us off” is a huge compliment.
What's the nicest response you've had from a customer?
We've had so many lovely kind words. I think possibly the sweetest comment - alongside the many comments from people who are enthused by our ethos - was from a 10-year-old who stated our puddings were “made by angels”.
Describe the look and feel of the restaurant. . .
The building itself is a gorgeous Georgian townhouse. The ground floor is currently in service, and has a fresh, rustic feel, with eclectic sustainably sourced chairs, and tables and bench seats made from repurposed materials. Local artists are encouraged to fill our many walls with their work. Our customers agree that it's a calm and comfortable space.
What’s a typical starter, main and dessert on your menu?
Our menu isn't really designed to be typical! We've given the diner choice to either eat in the more traditional way - starter, main, dessert - or to order a number of our smaller plates and share, so they have a taste of everything.
People love the chapachos (chappatti nachos, aubergine chutney, tomato and onion coriander salad) and our beer battered halloumi or spiced seitan kebab. For dessert, the boiled sweet brulee goes down very well.
Explain your Sunday Spread - how is it different from the usual restaurant "Sunday lunch"?
Food waste is a huge concern in the hospitality industry. In the run up to a Sunday, kitchens often prep a whole new menu to service our nation’s great desire for a Sunday roast, which can mean the foods prepared for the main menu are wasted.
So, instead, we serve a selection of what we have left from the week, creating dishes solely for Sunday using produce which otherwise might have been wasted. We then top this up with the traditional Sunday roast sides. This isn’t put on a menu, but all served out family-style with great dishes and platters in the centre of the table. It's a very social occasion.
What have you learned in the first two months of being open?
That people's enthusiasm for good food and trying new dishes is unending. And that people are very supportive of the ethos we're working towards.
What plans do you have for the future of 68 Market Street?
The building has three floors available for commercial use. We've opened the ground floor so far. But we have a cosy little basement room, and stunning first floor rooms, which we're looking to develop too. We've just started running a cocktail menu, so the basement is earmarked for a “speakeasy” type lounge.
We’re also beginning to host a series of table takeovers with guest chefs. Diners want variety, and this area has produced some amazingly talented chefs and caterers, so we're really pleased to be able to give our customers something new to look forward to and try out.
What would you say to persuade a committed carnivore to come and try your food?
We often get told that diners “didn't miss the meat” and that our menu is so diverse it wasn't even noticeable that meat wasn't there. I would say: come and give us a go, we’re sure you’ll love it!
* 68 Market Street is at Ely CB7 4LS. Visit 68marketstreet.co.uk for more and email email@example.com or call (01353) 967802 to book.