And the award for ‘Best Eating Out’ goes to…?

We’re very proud to have been involved with the Visit Herefordshire and Visit Worcestershire Awards for Excellence this year, celebrating what makes these counties such great destinations for visitors. We’ve sponsored the ‘Best Eating Out‘ category for both, and the standard of entries was high. With such strong competition, judging can’t have been easy!  The following came out on top and were revealed as finalists a little while ago:

The Temple Bar Inn
The Temple Bar Inn is every country lover’s dream, nestled in the heart of the Herefordshire village of Ewyas Harold, a stone’s throw from the Welsh Borders and the beautiful Black Mountains. Licensed since the 1850’s, this much-loved watering hole has been sympathetically refurbished, reopening as a Free House and Restaurant where the rustically simple décor, relaxed environment and choice selection of real ales and fine wines, provide the perfect sojourn for locals and visitors alike.  They’ve just celebrated their 5th birthday by holding their first ever Beer Festival!  The team are passionate about supporting local suppliers in the Herefordshire area and take full advantage of the exceptional quality of produce that is right on the doorstep. With a small menu that changes weekly, the freshest, local, seasonal produce available is loving prepared by their experienced chef. Everything is cooked to order – no microwave meals or fast food here!

Mandy Moo’s Café
Mandy Moo’s, in Ross-on-Wye, started out as a take away salad, sandwich bar but soon changed into a café specialising in homemade cakes, scones, vegetarian soups, quiches and homemade meals alongside an amazing salad bar. Their regular daily specials are all homemade, using quality ingredients, and they also hold an extremely popular monthly Sunday Lunch Club. This small laid back and (well behaved) dog-friendly café is going from strength to strength, and has both a 5 Star Food Hygiene rating and a 5 star TripAdvisor rating, showing that Mandy Moo’s is popular with locals and tourists alike.  Situated near the Wye walk and Hereford trail, and local and national bus services, the café is an ideal place to get information on the area and it also serves as a Ross Tourist Information Site, as well as being a ticket booking agent for Willets of Yorkley Coach Tours.

The Riverside at Aymestrey
The Riverside at Aymestrey is situated deep in the heart of Herefordshire countryside just on the southern edge of the Mortimer Forest, yet still close to Ludlow and Hereford. Authentic and atmospheric, the 16th century black and white building is surrounded by the natural beauty of the River Lugg valley. Chef Patron Andy Link has been dishing up delicious food here for 10 years. Good food is at the heart of the popular coaching inn, and guests can look forward to enjoying freshly picked produce from Mr Link’s working kitchen garden, meat from local farms, and fish from nearby rivers. The two acre garden is managed, planted and harvested by his team of chefs, bringing a true seed to plate ethos back to the restaurant. Andy’s aim over the coming years is to push this further, limiting the whole menu to food grown or sourced only within the local catchment, using the restaurant as a hub to promote the region’s producers.  Everything is cooked freshly on site, from their garden honey, oat and yogurt soda bread to the lemon verbena ice cream.

Feli’s Bar & Restaurant
With its’ unusual building, situated in a quiet rural location, and a beautiful contemporary interior, Feli’s Bar & Restaurant offers contemporary italian cuisine using local sourced fresh ingredients in a relaxing atmosphere.  Chef Felice Tocchini  runs Feli’s with the help of his wife, Fiorinda. He specialises in using fresh, local produce to create delicious food with an Italian twist. Felice is passionate about local produce and spends much of his time working with growers and producers as well as schools and colleges to help promote Worcestershire food and drink far and wide. His television appearances have included cooking demonstrations and topic based discussions as a celebrity chef on a range of series from Countryfile to The One Show.  If  you are looking for fresh food, fine wines, beers of the world, friendly service and pure relaxation, then you need look no further.

Eckington Manor
The Restaurant at Eckington Manor uses the very best available seasonal ingredients. Chef Sue Stinchcombe and her husband Mark are the couple behind the Farm to Fork food philosophy at the heart of Eckington Manor.  They combine British and European cuisine with the odd dish from further afield to create diverse and imaginative menus that incorporate locally grown produce from both their own farm and the surrounding area.  The whole team are passionate about food and the menus at Eckington Manor are developed using produce from Eckington Manor’s award winning farm, orchard, vegetable and herb gardens, to illustrate the importance of using good, seasonal ingredients. All of their food is fully traceable and honestly prepared so that the natural flavours are enhanced.  They also offer a varied wine list and a selection of regional artisan cheeses.

The Cotford Hotel
Aiming to be recognised as the finest dining venue in the area, ‘L’amuse-Bouche Restaurant’ is a taste of French-style cuisine in a quaint English setting, on the slopes of the beautiful and picturesque Malvern Hills. With its high ceilings and views across the beautiful gardens, the restaurant comfortably seats 40 and can be personally tailored for any occasion.  Head Chef Chris Morgan has worked in some of the world’s premier hotels and has developed his own unique style of creative cuisine using only fresh, locally sourced and organic produce.  He works with a team of talented chefs to create menus that keep guests coming back for more, and the restaurant has held two coveted AA rosette awards since 2010. L’amuse-Bouche Restaurant at The Cotford Hotel was overall winner of the Best Restaurant category in the Visit Worcestershire Awards for Excellence in 2016.  Not ones to rest on their laurels, they are constantly looking to improve their menu with fresh local produce, innovative techniques and classic flavours.

The joint Awards Ceremony took place on Tuesday 19th September at Malvern Theatre and the overall winners were revealed.  So without further ado, here are the winners!

Best Eating Out – Worcestershire: The Cotford Hotel, L’amuse-Bouche Restaurant.
Wow! This establishment exudes quality and attention to detail. It lives up to its name on every level. The experience made my guest and I smile – our taste buds had a real adventure.

Best Eating Out – Herefordshire: The Riverside at Aymestry.
As local as can be. The amazing combinations of textures and flavours showcase seasonal produce, in a clever way that allows the individual ingredients to shine. Care and respect is shown, to produce that comes from their own garden, the river running alongside, and the fields and farms nearby.

Congratulations to both the winners – what a great achievement! As with all foodie things, it’s all a matter of taste (pun intended!) so do you agree with the judges’ decisions? Who would you have voted for?

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