Sunday, 6 October 2013

Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards 2013 - Results

Location: Weston Manor Hotel, Weston-on-the-Green, Bicester, Oxfordshire OX25 3QL, UK
Oxfordshire Restaurants FoodieOnTour
Winners Enclosure at The Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards

After months of organising and voting, the third annual Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards, founded and organised by In Oxford Group, finally culminated this week at a glittering ceremony in the grounds of The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green. I went along to check out the winners and losers... 

Catering for the elegant event was produced in-house by the team at The Manor, with their Executive Chef working closely with event sponsor, Roots of Oxford, to devise a menu sourced from local producers, showcasing the best in Oxfordshire. Arriving rather fashionably late (the joys of having a newborn in the house), I made it just in time for dessert but not in time to sample to ox cheek main - which I was reliably told was the menu highlight. I may have missed the cheeky main on this occasion, but with another upcoming opportunity to sample The Manor's food, I will be reporting back fully; from what I've heard of late this could be a pinpoint to remember on the local food map!

2013 Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards - FoodieOnTour
2013 Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards Menu

Chaired by Alain Desenclos, Ambassador for Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons (himself a previous winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award), the awards judging committee was made up of high level Oxfordshire businessmen and women, supported by a team of reviewers. Every Oxfordshire eatery was invited to take part, with participating venues individually reviewed by one of the review team.

I was a tad disappointed to see a number of my favourites, plus some obvious contenders, missing from the nominations; seemingly choosing not to participate, there was no sign of Magdalen Arms, Port Mahon, Rusty Bicycle, Sojo, or even Oxordshire's three Michelin starred restaurants... to name a few. There were, however, a number of interesting (and surprising) additions, a couple of which I'd been disappointed by over the course of the last year and reviewed accordingly.

L: The Living Room & Big Bang celebrating their nominations & awards
R: Fallowfields & Jacobs Inn at the after party

The big winner of the night was The Star Inn, Sparsholt, scooping the coveted Restaurant of the Year Award. Open since July 2012, Owner Caron Williams said “this is a fantastic reward for all those difficult days when we were setting up.” The Star's Chef, Dave Watts, has already won Good Food Guide Chef to Watch 2013... DEFINITELY one on my list to visit.

The Star Inn also went home with an Award for best Gastro Pub / Brasserie, with The Lamb Inn claiming a hotly contended prize for Gastronomic Restaurant. Head Chef of The Lamb Inn was understandably “over the moon”; dating back to 1402, the beautiful 17-room Lamb Inn has held two rosettes for over 9 years (already added to my ever-expanding list of places to visit). 

Oxfordshire Restaurants FoodieOnTour
The team at The Star Inn make it a double with Awards for Restaurant of the Year and Gastro Pub / Brasserie

For the second year running, the Award for Outstanding Service was made to Oxford Brookes Restaurant. Individual contributions were recognised for outstanding achievement including Anthony (Tony) Verdin of The Cherwell Boathouse, Max Mason of The Big Bang for the creativity he showed in building a beach in Oxford, and Patrick Greenberg of La Cucina who won Trainee of the Year.

A Recognition Award was also made to Browns, an Oxford Institution for 40 years; with the Editors Award (chosen by In Oxford and B4) going to The Quince Tree in Stonor.

Oxfordshire Restaurants, FoodieOnTour
The Quince Tree collect their Editors Choice Award


Restaurant of the Year Recognising the best in Oxfordshire, the overall winner, Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year has been selected from the winners in the other categories (see below), and is decided on by the committee. Last year’s Restaurant of the Year winner was The Feathers in Woodstock, with The Feathered Nest at Nether Westcote in the Cotswolds scooping the prize in 2011 - once of my favourites for Sunday lunch.

Gastronomic Restaurant Formal restaurants that seek to build reputation on dishes that exhibit finesse, complexity and considerable skill in execution; extensive product knowledge of staff; and attentive yet unobtrusive service.
Nominees: Fallowfields, The Feathers, Pierre Victoire, The Turl Street Kitchen, Manor Weston on the Green, Le Kesh, Cherwell Boathouse, Brookes Restaurant, The Lamb Inn Burford
Third: Cherwell Boathouse
Second: Brookes Restaurant

Gastro Pub / Brasserie Relaxed, often informal or semi-formal settings, in which there is much emphasis placed on the quality of food and service. Menus often contain culturally-specific and possibly ‘rustic’ dishes, which require considerable skill to execute.
Nominees: Plowden Arms, The Chequers at Burcot, The White Hart at Fyfield, The Quince Tree, The Mole Inn, Cibo, The Living Room, Kingham Plough, The Star Inn at Sparsholt
Third: Living Room
Second: Kingham Plough

Traditional Pub Restaurant A uniquely British creation, informal establishments that promote a sense of conviviality and community, which serve good quality food (often, but not exclusively British) and a range of beers.
Nominees: The Big Bang, The Oxford Retreat, The Black Horse Kidlington, The James Figg
Third: The Black Horse (Kidlington)
Second: The Oxford Retreat

Asian A defining characteristic of the Oxfordshire restaurant scene – establishments serving exclusively Asian cuisine. Note: those serving only ‘take-out’ food were considered as part of the ‘express, deli and café’ category.
Nominees: Spice Lounge, Snooty Mehmaan, Gurkha Village, Yeti, Jee Saheb, First Floor
Third: Gurkha Village
Second: Spice Lounge

Express, Deli, Café Food outlets that enable us to dine whilst ‘on the go’, or when we want a quick meal in an informal setting.
Nominees: The Rose, Gatineau, Jacobs and Field, The Old Studio, The Bakehouse, Reg's Cafe Banbury, Burford Garden Centre, Oxfork
Third: Oxfork
Second: Reg's Cafe, Banbury

Outstanding Service Award Based on interpretation of scores and reviews, the judging panel will identify the restaurant that offered the most outstanding quality of service.

Award for Creativity: Max Mason, The Big Bang

Recognition of Service: Anthony Verdin, The Cherwell Boathouse

Apprentice of the Year: Patrick Greenberg, La Cucina

Editors Award (awarded by B4 / In Oxford): The Quince Tree

Special 40th Birthday Presentation: Browns Oxford

2013 Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards - FoodieOnTour

Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards
The Firs
Headington Hill
Twitter: @inoxfordawards
Facebook: @oxrestaurantawards
Phone: 01865 742211

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