While the Paralympics continue to feed our passion for sporting glory, some of Northamptonshire’s finest eateries now find themselves bidding for culinary gold as the finalists in the dining categories of this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards are revealed!
The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its fourth year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.
The finalists in the ‘Restaurant of the Year’ category are (in alphabetical order):
- Frank’s Steakhouse, Northampton
- Murrays at Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury
- Oundle Mill, Oundle
- The Exeter Arms, Easton on the Hill
- The Raj, Kettering
- The Seafood Café, Northampton
While those venues vying to take the title of ‘Pub or Bar Restaurant of the Year’ are (in alphabetical order):
- Hopping Hare, Duston
- Olde Red Lion, Kislingbury
- The Red Lion, Culworth
- The Royal Oak @ Eydon, Eydon
- The Saracen’s Head, Lt. Brington
- The White Swan, Woodnewton
The finalists in each category were selected from a record number of entries from across the county and the shortlisting was based not only on individual entry forms, which required each venue to demonstrate its celebration of the use of local produce and the variety and value of its food and drink menus, but also the results of a series of anonymous visits conducted throughout the summer by an extensive team of ‘mystery shoppers’. Their scores considered in factors such as ambience, speed of service, staff knowledge of the menu and its local sourcing and, most importantly, the quality of the food itself!
Among the judges making the difficult decisions were the Editor of Great Food Magazine, Matthew Wright, Eli Farrington from Farrington Oils whose Balsamic Vinegar Dressing currently holds the title of ‘Best Local Product’, and Vita and Jeff Whitaker from the Thrapston-based catering equipment specialists, Whitco, sponsor of these two categories. Said Vita “The variety of applications demonstrates the breadth of our food offering in the county, from fine dining to more comfortable, contemporary eating and since last year’s awards we’ve seen some exciting new eating concepts which has widened that further.
“The competition shows what a culinary community Northamptonshire now is and at Whitco, we’re pleased to play our part in helping to push those venues to raise the bar even higher and promote the county’s food reputation further afield” she added.
The finalists will now be ‘mystery shopped’ again by a panel of regional expert judges, although as the competition’s co-ordinator, Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company, explains, Northamptonshire’s foodies can also play their part in deciding who wins. “As with last year, diners have the chance to help influence the results by voting for their favourites online throughout September so we’d encourage them to visit the venues, especially those in which they’ve not dined before, and then cast their vote.
“I’m really excited that, by chance, our finalists hail from every corner of the county so there’s really no excuse for not trying out some of the best food and drink that Northamptonshire has to offer!”
To vote in the two categories, please visit the Awards’ website - www.letyourselfgrow.com/foodanddrinkawards Votes are limited to one per person and voting closes on Sunday 30th September.
Visitors to the website can also vote for their favourite venues from the finalists in the ‘Community Pub of the Year – Town and Rural’ categories. Votes can be also be registered by completing a coupon in the venues themselves with the closing date again of Sunday 30th September.
The shortlist in the ‘Community Pub of the Year – Town’ category consists of (in alphabetical order):
- Spinney Hill, Northampton
- The Lamplighter, Northampton
- The Swan and Helmet, Northampton
- The Wig and Pen, Northampton
While those hoping to receive the public’s support in the ‘Community Pub of the Year – Rural’ category are (in alphabetical order):
- Royal Oak, Blisworth
- The George, Tiffield
- The George and Dragon, Chacombe
- The Stag’s Head, Gt. Doddington
The finalists in all categories now have until 14th November to discover their fate when the trophies are presented at the Awards Dinner taking place at The Wing, Silverstone. Tickets priced at £80.00 (plus VAT) are available by calling Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org