Green shoots of recovery for restaurants but tapas trend will pass
Pig’s Ear chef wins chef of the year award
Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick.
Viewmount House Restaurant, Dublin Road, Longford.
Restaurants and other food establishments are finally seeing green shoots of recovery after years of recession, food writer Georgina Campbell said yesterday as she presented her annual hospitality awards.
“This year, at last, five years on, I can say that there is real improvement. Those are green shoots actually . . . there is a noticeable improvement in business.”
While many new restaurant openings were in casual dining, “fine dining is not gone by the board”. She noted the recent rush towards tapas-style menus but said Irish diners liked “a proper meal” and she suspected tapas would revert to its original place as an accompaniment to drinks or as a starter to share with others.
Ms Campbell said vegetables were beginning to be taken more seriously and, after years of neglect, seaweed and other sea vegetables were growing in popularity. “Buffalo meat is coming on to the market now in west Cork and it’s really very interesting,” she said.
Ms Campbell also noted the trend towards female-only floors in business hotels abroad and said this may well be coming to Ireland. Baths were making a comeback as were separate beds. She said these developments were being led by demand from new markets. “The Chinese and Japanese markets apparently are very keen on having separate beds and a full bath option.”
She also added her voice to the calls for the retention of the current reduced VAT rate for the hospitality sector.
Stephen McAllister of the Pig’s Ear restaurant in Dublin was named chef of the year in the Georgina Campbell Awards. She said he was “a champion of Irish produce” who took traditional favourites and presented them in creative ways. The restaurant of the year award went to VM restaurant at Viewmount House in Longford which had made Longford “a destination for food-lovers throughout Ireland and beyond”.
The Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick, was named hotel of the year, while the pub of the year award went to Blairs Inn, Blarney, Co Cork.
The Georgina Campbell Awards have been running since 1991 and are judged by a team of assessors who visit the establishments anonymously.
GEORGINA CAMPBELL AWARDS The winners are . . .
For services to Irish food and hospitality: Francis Brennan, Park Hotel Kenmare, Co Kerry
Hotel of the year: Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick
Restaurant of the year: VM Restaurant at Viewmount House, Longford, Co Longford
Chef of the year: Stephen McAllister, The Pig’s Ear Restaurant, Nassau Street, Dublin
“Just Ask” restaurant of the year – sponsored by Bord Bia: Belleek Castle, Ballina, Co Mayo
Seafood restaurant of the year: Eithna’s by the Sea, Mullaghmore, Co Sligo
Seafood chef of the year : Michael O’Meara, Oscars Seafood Bistro, Galway
Taste of the waterways award: Watermill Lodge, Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh
Hideaway of the year: Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co Limerick
Host of the year: Bob Isles, Whitepark House, Ballintoy, Co Antrim
Business hotel of the year: Limerick Strand Hotel, Limerick
Wine award of the year: The Black Pig Winebar & Café, Kinsale, Co Cork
Pub of the year: Blairs Inn, Blarney, Co Cork
Newcomer of the year: Clashganny House Restaurant, Borris, Co Carlow
Family-friendly hotel of the year: Druids Glen Resort, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow
Pet friendly hotel of the year: Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co Limerick
Casual dining restaurant of the year: The Fatted Calf, Glasson, Co Westmeath
Atmospheric restaurant of the year: Trocadero, Dublin
Ethnic restaurant of the year: Kin Khao Thai, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Cafe of the year: Walton Court Café, Oysterhaven, Co Cork
Natural food award: Longueville House Cider and Irish Apple Brandy
Country house of the year: Newforge House, Magheralin, Co Armagh
Guesthouse of the year: Sea Shore Farm Guesthouse, Kenmare, Co Kerry
B&B of the year: The White Cottages, Skerries, Co Dublin
Farmhouse of the year: Inch House, Thurles, Co Tipperary
Irish breakfast award national winner: Newforge House, Magheralin, Co Armagh
Country house breakfast: Newforge House, Magheralin, Co Armagh
Hotel breakfast: Limerick Strand Hotel, Limerick
B&B breakfast: The White Cottages, Skerries, Co Dublin