You may remember a few months ago when I posted about a new trend in American bars and restaurants: drinking and eating both responsibly AND sustainably. The Huffington Post devoted an article to highlighting nine of America’s greenest bars. One of these bars was Bambara located in Cambridge just across the Charles River from Boston. Bambara is conveniently located within walking distance of the Green Line’s Lechmere T Station and is tucked into Hotel Marlowe on Edwin H Land Blvd. Autonomie Project is fortunate enough to have Bambara in its backyard and I could not resist visiting the restaurant this past weekend.

Bambara is listed on EcoDrinking, a website devoted to establishing bars and restaurants as being green based on numerous factors such as sustainability, organic food/drink options, energy efficiency, and other green initiatives. The website specifically notes Bambara’s use of local ingredients to create organic drinks and entrées as well as their LED lighting and recycling program. Bambara lists numerous “environmentally friendly practices” they are currently using to further their mission of creating a “greener future”.

From the wine list to the take-out containers, Bambara has it covered when it comes to sustainable business practices. Their wine list only features wines that are sustainable, organic, or biodynamic. Recycled cane fiber makes up the content of Bambara’s take-out containers. In addition, the restaurant refuses to use disposable packaging when storing food. Styrofoam is essentially banned from the restaurant. Better yet, Bambara prides itself in its use of local ingredients purchased from local farms, ranches, and fisheries. Bambara has every reason to pride itself in its ingredients; my entire dinner was outstanding.

Thankfully, my friend, Christine, and I chose to venture to Bambara during Boston’s Restaurant Week. We made our reservation on a Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m., but we found that it was unnecessary. We were able to choose a nice high-top table across from the bar along the restaurant’s windows. For $33, we had numerous options to choose from for an appetizer, entrée, and dessert combination. It was immediately confirmed that the ingredients of their dishes were completely organic and fresh when we took our first bites. Christine and I raved to each other about the pasta we ordered. In fact, our waitress kindly noted that all of Bambara’s pasta is made from scratch in-house. You sure can tell!

Bambara’s dinner menu was extensive and impressive, but I think they could definitely improve their selection with additional vegetarian and vegan options. Many of the salads would satisfy a vegetarian’s needs as well as a vegan’s needs sans the various cheeses. However, every dinner entrée has some kind of meat or fish. New vegetarian and vegan options would definitely improve the menu and attract a larger market of customers. It would also add to Bambara’s green mission! I also noticed that the drink menu contains only conventional beers. Local breweries like Harpoon or Peak Organic would be excellent additions to the drink menu. It would also further Bambara’s mission to partner with local businesses. Despite this, Bambara’s cocktails sure do catch your eye on the menu. Bambara’s ‘Mother Earth’ is dubbed as an eco-friendly cocktail. It contains organic Tru vanilla vodka, Makers Mark Aperol, agave nectar, and orange juice. With more cocktails like ‘Mother Earth’, Bambara is sure to expand their customer base.

Overall, our experience at Bambara was outstanding. We did not feel too guilty about the food we ate since we knew we were being a bit greener and more sustainable by dining at Bambara! What more justification do you need? So next time you’re in Boston, take the T just one stop into Cambridge for a great drink and meal. There is no better way to enjoy time with friends and family than over an ethical and superbly tasting dinner out on the town.

-Derek Rogers

You may have read in the Huffington Post a few weeks ago about the newest trends in American bars, restaurants, and clubs; they are becoming greener. Thanks to website,  www.ecodrinking.com, anyone can hop on the web and search their nearby city for the most ethical way to go out and hit the town when it comes to sustainability, organic options, energy efficiency, and other green initiatives. To find the greenest bars and clubs across the country, the website uses numerous factors to establish whether or not the establishment is worthy of being deemed green.

EcoDrinking describes how there are no clear standards for an establishment to be green seeing that there are innumerable ways to make green initiatives (which is why businesses should begin to think greener!). However, it is easy to compare the establishments to each other by noting the number of green initiatives they are making. Some of the most common initiatives the establishments on EcoDrinking are making are: offering organic beverages, implementing recycling programs, adding more organic ingredients to dishes, using recycled materials, and using local ingredients. Thanks to the Huffington Post, you can check out the ” 9 “greenest” bars in U.S.

If you are looking for a good, and green, time on the west coast, you can check out Temple in San Francisco. Paul Hemming established Temple in response to his frustration with the “wasteful nature” his industry participates in. Temple has made major strides to green up their business. Some of green accomplishments include diverting 89% of their waste away from landfills! Even their kitchen grease is donated in order to create bio-diesel fuel preparation. They also have an eclectic array of artists who perform there allowing you to “stimulate your senses”.

Looking to hit the town in the Mid-West? Check out Uncommon Ground‘s two locations in Chicago’s Wrigleyville and Edgewater neighborhoods. The Edgewater location was just ranked by the Green Restaurant Association as a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant. Uncommon Ground achieved this by using local foods, low-flow spray valves, and completing the décor with reclaimed wood. All employees wear organic cotton uniforms!

And for those of you looking to have a sustainable night out on the East Coast, look no further than Cambridge’s Bambara just across the Charles from Boston. Recycled cane fiber makes up their take-out containers and employees use washable mugs and glasses when taking quick water breaks. Styrofoam has no home at Bambara and recycled paper and soy ink are both used to create new menus whenever possible.

Having a sustainable and ethical evening is easier than you think and can be loads of fun! Next time you head out for dinner after a hard day’s work or want to catch up with old friends over drinks, head over to these establishments. Who doesn’t enjoy an ethically justified night out? By keeping these businesses prospering, we can further spread the message of sustainability to more business across the U.S.

-Derek Rogers

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