Munster serves up award-winning fare
on 09/10/2013 00:00:00
The contest, which is run in conjunction with Bord Bia and tourist website www.ireland-guide.com, has for over a decade acted as a 'who's who' of the best places to eat, drink, and stay in Ireland.
And, true to its growing reputation, Munster counties accounted for three of the top four most-feted areas - with Limerick even managing to outshine Dublin in the pecking order. Among the sites which caught the eye were the Walton Court Cafe in Oysterhaven, Co Cork, which was named Cafe of the Year.
The prize was handed out to Paul and Janis Rafferty's "seriously charming" four- century-old listed building, which offers a "simple yet beguiling mixture of local produce and continental specialities which match the ambience perfectly".
Blairs Inn in Blarney was named Pub of the Year, with the judging panel noting the facility's popularity among tourists and locals alike, while the Black Pig Wine-bar and Cafe in Kinsale was also named among the winners.
Kerry's contenders in the 27-category strong contest included the "beautifully situated" Sea Shore Farm Guesthouse in Kenmare, which overlooks the Beara peninsula.
Long-established Dublin facilities like the Trocadero (Atmospheric Restaurant of the Year) and the Pig's Ear Restaurant (Chef of the Year) kept their place among the elite.
However, Limerick's five- win showing - including successes in categories like Hideway of the Year, Hotel Breakfast of the Year, and Business Hotel of the Year, - has helped to underline Munster's value to the country's food and drinks industry.
"We really do seem to be seeing the long-anticipated green shoots of recovery this year, as there's been a marked upturn in business almost everywhere," said head of the judging panel, Georgina Campbell. "Fine dining is far from dead, and this is again reflected in our awards," she said.
The awards news is likely to act as a major boost to the tourism, food, and drinks sector in Munster, which in recent months has seen a concerted effort to push itself to the fore of the market.
As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, earlier this summer, Cork City Council bosses initiated a €50,000 feasibility study into whether the Capitol Cinema site in the heart of the city, which has been unused for more than five years, could be transformed into a national food centre.
Officials believe the move, which may include further changes to the Oyster Tavern and Unitarian Church, would build on the nearby English Market's strong reputation, which has gained international prominence as a result of Queen Elizabeth II's 2011 high-profile visit.
* Limerick: Five wins
* Dublin: Four
* Cork: Three
* Kerry, Westmeath, Armagh: Two
* Galway, Longford, Fermanagh, Mayo, Sligo, Carlow, Wicklow, Antrim, Tipperary: One
TOP MUNSTER WINNERS:
* Cafe of the year: Walton Court Cafe, Oysterhaven, Kinsale, Co Cork.
* Wine award of the year: Black Pig Winebar and Cafe, Kinsale, Co Cork
* Guesthouse of the year: Sea Shore Farm Guesthouse, Kenmare, Co Kerry.
* Hideaway of the year: Echo Lodge, Ballingarry, Co Limerick.
* Farmhouse of the year: Inch House, Thurles, Co Tipperary.
THE BEST OF THE REST:
* Restaurant of the year: VM Restaurant at Viewmount House, Co Longford.
* Chef of the year: Stephen McAllister, The Pig's Ear Restaurant, Co 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.
* Atmospheric restaurant of the year: Trocadero, Co Dublin.