Every year, The Good Food Guide team award ‘Editors’ Awards’ to restaurants and chefs who we feel deserve the highest recognition. For the 2013 edition, the team is delighted to confer the following awards:
|CHEF TO WATCH
Dave Watts, Cotswold House, Chipping Camden
The Seahorse, Dartmouth, Devon
|CHEF OF THE YEAR
Clare Smyth, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
|BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
|WINE LIST OF THE YEAR
Drake's Restaurant, Ripley, Surrey
Food by Breda Murphy, Whalley, Lancashire
|BEST NEW ENTRY
The Gunton Arms, Thorpe Market, Norfolk
|PUB OF THE YEAR
The Plough Inn, Longparish, Hampshire
Dave Watts, who trained under Raymond Blanc, produces exquisitely balanced, often complex, dishes that are beautiful to behold - dishes are well thought-out, ingredients superb. There’s undoubtedly plenty of culinary flair, and now Dave Watts has been given free reign, we expect to see some great things.
CHEF OF THE YEAR: Clare Smyth
It's tough at the top, and as head chef at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, it's been easy to overlook the fact that Clare Smyth is The Good Food Guide's highest-rated female chef. This year's culinary fact-finding mission to Spain has paid handsome dividends for Clare and her team, resulting in an array of new dishes all stamped with a gracefully light touch, and an even firmer grasp of seasonality that has become this hard-working chef's signature. We're delighted to be celebrating Clare's achievements in naming her our Chef of the Year.
BEST NEW ENTRY: The Gunton Arms
Something of a game changer when it comes to eating out in the country, the Gunton Arms has reinvented the rural inn for the twenty-first century. One part pub to two parts hotel and restaurant, its chill-out atmosphere and easy-going service works well with the period charm of the baronially furnished building and idyllic rural location in the grounds of a country estate. On trend bar snacks (venison sausage rolls), some of Norfolk’s finest ales, roasted meats cooked over a vast open fire, plus designer details and luxurious touches all come at reasonable prices.
We’ve had our eye on James Durrant ever since he took over from Jason Atherton as executive chef at Maze. But impressed as we were by his cooking skills during his short sojourn at Maze, we’ve been bowled over by his approach to running the Plough. He’s not trying to do London fine-dining in the country. The food here is simple, local and seasonal, backed up by real ales and a well-considered wine list. Every country village should have a pub like this – very much part of the community with its convivial atmosphere and a feel-good factor that’s the result of good food (from lunchtime sandwiches to Casterbridge beef fillet for two), impeccable service and accessible pricing.
WINE LIST OF THE YEAR: Drakes
Ever since Steve and Serina Drake turned this clock-fronted Georgian house into a destination restaurant, their ambition has rarely gathered dust. Not the least glory of the place, however, is the fantastic wine list, the work of a true devotee, backed up by sensitively proffered advice. Burgundy leads the way, with rich pickings from the Languedoc, Rhône and Savoie, but there are idiosyncratic numbers from elsewhere, too.
BEST SEAFOOD: The Seahorse
Mitch Tonks' Seahorse is the kind of approachable eatery you can make friends with. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Superb fish is Tonks' stock-in-trade, and it shows: seafood comes ozone-fresh, often roasted in the wood-fired oven. The wine list bristles with imaginative bottles from artisan producers, chosen for their affinity to the food. There’s a lovely warm atmosphere too, helped by extremely friendly and knowledgeable service.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY: Create
Create aims to help people back into work. It was opened by a social-enterprise outside catering company with Richard Walton-Allen, former executive chef at Harvey Nichols, Leeds, at the helm. He has shaped a colourful contemporary restaurant, a big city eatery that is genuinely user-friendly, with a strong, seasonally changing menu delivering earthy dishes at very reasonable prices.
This daytime-only venue always attracts reams of praise for smiling, efficient service and a continually changing selection of delicious food. It’s an appealingly simple venue that chimes with the times in its devotion to realistic prices – without compromising the quality of the ingredients.
Well done to all the award winners! If you've been to any of these restaurants, tell us what you thought via our feedback form.
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