Rural restaurants in dire straits, warns Campbell
THE IMMINENT closure of the award-winning O’Brien Chop House restaurant is not a one-off and represents what is really going on in rural Ireland, food writer Georgina Campbell said yesterday.
She said it was very distressing to hear that the restaurant, in Lismore, Co Waterford, would be closing at the end of the month because it wasn’t getting enough customers. It was crucial that people supported businesses in rural Ireland before it was too late.
“We don’t want to turn around in five or 10 years’ time and find that we’ve lost all of these wonderful places and that we’re back almost in the dark ages, where we were before the boom,” she said.
“Those of us who live in cities need to look at the rural scene for what it is and appreciate what is being done, and realise it is a tremendous hinterland, backing up what is going on in cities.”
She said the boom had encouraged many people to start dining out “and it would be terribly sad if we don’t support those places that need it now”.
She was speaking at the announcement of the 2013 Georgina Campbell Awards for the hospitality industry. O’Brien Chop House won the award for the restaurant with the best wine list.
Ms Campbell said the announcement that the restaurant would close came as “a terrible shock” because of its extremely high standards. “It’s heartbreaking to think that even in a heritage town like Lismore, which should be a magnet for visitors, that it’s not possible to keep an establishment like that going.”
She announced 28 award winners in the annual hospitality awards. Husband and wife team Eileen Dunne and Stefano Crescenzi received a special award for their contribution to Irish hospitality through their work in the Dunne and Crescenzi restaurants.
The Greenhouse restaurant on Dublin’s Dawson Street won the restaurant of the year award while the chef of the year prize went to Ian Orr of Browns Restaurant in Derry.
The Granville Hotel in Waterford was named hotel of the year, while the seafood restaurant of the year award went to the Oar House in Howth, Co Dublin.
Ms Campbell said the link between producers and consumers was growing stronger. “A lot of establishments, the better establishments, are really taking pride in telling their customers where the food comes from,” she said. The Bord Bia award for restaurants that inform customers where their food comes from went to the Galway restaurant Ard Bia.
She also expressed concern at the number of unregistered accommodation providers in the State and said it was potentially disastrous. She asked what would happen if someone got food poisoning or died in an unapproved B&B or guesthouse.
Hospitality awards the tastiest and the friendliest
Restaurant of the year:The Greenhouse restaurant, Dawson Street, Dublin
Chef of the year: Ian Orr of Brown’s Restaurant, Derry
Hotel of the year:The Granville Hotel, Waterford
Seafood restaurant of the year:The Oar House, Howth, Co Dublin
Seafood chef of the year:Billy Whitty, Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co Wexford
Hosts of the year:Paddy and Julia Foyle, The Quay House, Clifden, Co Galway
The “Just Ask” restaurant of the year award sponsored by Bord Bia:Ard Bia, Galway city
Business hotel of the year:The River Lee Hotel, Cork
Wine award of the year:O’Brien Chop House, Lismore, Co Waterford
Pub of the year:Nancy’s Bar, Ardara, Co Donegal
Newcomer of the year:East Café Bar, Howth, Co Dublin
Family-friendly hotel of the year:Hotel Westport, Westport, Co Mayo
Hideaway of the year:Moy House, Lahinch, Co Clare
Pet-friendly hotel of the year:Cromleach Lodge, Lough Arrow, Co Sligo
Casual dining restaurant of the year:The Beach House, Buncrana, Co Donegal
Atmospheric restaurant of the year:West End House, Killarney, Co Kerry
Ethnic restaurant of the year:Michie Sushi, Dublin
Café of the year:The Wooden Spoon, Killaloe, Co Clare
Natural food award:Glenilen Farm Dairy Products, Drimoleague, Co Cork
Country house of the year:Carrig House, Caragh Lake, Co Kerry
Guesthouse of the year:Drumcreehy House, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare
B&B of the year:The Archways B&B, Rosslare, Co Wexford
Farmhouse of the year:Annaharvey Farm, Tullamore, Co Offaly
National breakfast award:Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick
Hotel breakfast award:Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick
Guesthouse breakfast award:The Quay House, Clifden, Galway
B&B breakfast award:The Archways B&B, Rosslare, Wexford
Restaurateurs Eileen Dunne and Stefano Crescenzi won a special award for their contribution to Irish hospitality.