Rooftop farming is a growing phenomenon overseas, and it’s starting to catch on here. I believe urban agriculture, including rooftop farming, will be one of the important ways that we will reduce the carbon footprint (and potentially the price) of the food we eat. It will also be a way of circumventing the evils of the ‘food system’ that currently provides us with our food (to read more about that, watch Food Inc.). So when I was invited to visit the rooftop garden at the Upper Eastside Hotel, I quickly accepted the invitation.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was surprised when I saw that the garden actually consists of 42 large wooden boxes or ‘planters’. It made me realise that you don’t need a big flat space to have a rooftop garden, as these planters are placed wherever there is enough space. Each planter contains a different plant, from common ones like basil, chives and dill to less common ones like fennel bulb, pakchoi, chillies and grenadilla. Having them in separate containers means you can water them according to their individual requirements and move them around if necessary.
Apparently the garden now provides up to 80% of the kitchen’s herb requirements. This is part of a broader plan to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint and all other food suppliers are local, within a 50km radius. Apparently the garden is the baby of everyone who works in the kitchen, with all eager to assist with the maintenance and harvesting.
After the tour of the garden, we sat down for lunch at Liberty’s restaurant. For those that don’t know, the Upper Eastside development is more than just the hotel. It’s a lifestyle complex with apartments, offices, shops, gym, spa, etc. The hotel restaurant and bar service the whole complex so they see a fair amount of traffic. The kitchen also supports the conferencing facilities.
Liberty’s has a tapas menu which is perfect for a light lunch or after work snack. In fact, they are currently offering a discount of 35% off tapas between 5pm and 7pm! We tried a few of the tapas to start, like the chilli prawns (R86), sticky pork strips (R68) and Thai salmon and crayfish cakes (R72). For mains we tasted a few of the dishes. The white tomato soup (R55) was amazing! We also liked the ostrich fillet with gorgonzola (R138) and the spicy Szechuan chicken (R95). We didn’t get to try any of the salads or pastas, but they sounded very appealing. What’s cool is that there are lighter options for those wanting something less substantial, like wraps and sandwiches.
Dessert was a highlight. Chocolate lovers will swoon over the menu section entitled The Chocolate Lovers Club, which offers items such as baked chocolate cheesecake (R38) and Amarula & dark chocolate fondant (R48). Other interesting options are the gingered pear & muscadel Cape Dutch pudding (R38) and the banana, chocolate & caramel spring rolls (R38).
In line with the modern and slightly avante garde decor of the hotel, Liberty’s is a swish looking restaurant. A perfect place to get together for some after work drinks or a night of celebration. There are often up market events happening at the hotel so keep an eye out for the next one.
You can read more about the hotel and restaurant on the website.
Upper Eastside Hotel
Brickfield Road, Woodstock
Tel: 021 404 0570