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.