Half-way along the Loop Head Peninsula, Tony and Imelda Lynch’s classic 19th Century pub has earned a reputation for its welcoming atmosphere and good food – especially local seafood.
The Beech Hill House Hotel in Derry won the Hotel of the Year with Patsy O’Kane providing a perfect example of the hands-on proprietor, states the Georgina Campbell Guide, “totally committed to developing the best aspects of this interesting hotel and making the guest experience memorable”.
Allo’s Bar & Bistro in Listowel, County Kerry, won the Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year while Kai Café & Restaurant won Restaurant of the Year.
Representatives of the Irish hospitality industry had gathered at Bord Bia in Dublin for the 2015 Georgina Campbell Awards, associated with the Georgina Campbell’s Ireland independent hospitality guides and Ireland’s most popular independent hospitality and travel website www.ireland-guide.com.
Speaking about the ongoing search for excellence, Georgina Campbell said, “There’s no doubt that we’re finally seeing the long-anticipated recovery this year.
“A marked upturn in business has been reported everywhere and this is borne out by official figures”.
Connecting local Irish suppliers, restaurant kitchens and ultimately the customer continues to be a strong trend.
She had also noted that one of the trends for Tapas-style ‘small plates’ is “still popular, especially sharing plates that make sociable starters. But, as I commented last year, Irish diners like ‘a proper meal’ and it is interesting to see that many ‘tapas’ menus now offer full size main courses as well as the smaller dishes”.
“Increasingly, chefs are proud to champion local producers on their menus and waiting staff are also becoming accustomed to explaining provenance to customers,” she stated.
However Georgina Campbell added, “We’ve found that poor service continues to be an issue in too many establishments of all types and proprietors urgently need to understand the value of investing in staff training.
“Equally worrying is the increased number of poor meals we’ve experienced this year, even in previously reliable establishments. Standards are very variable and I do wonder if we are over-selling Ireland. It would be far wiser to address problems than pretend they don’t exist.”
The chef shortage is not new, but it has reached a crisis point, she pointed out.
Elsewhere, the availability of free WiFi is a deal breaker for many customers when deciding where to stay, she said.
Among the other top award-winners on the day were Derek Creagh, Harry’s Restaurant, Bridgend, County Donegal (Chef of the Year) and Bill & Isabelle Kelly, Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare, County Wexford (Georgina Campbell Award, for special contribution to Irish hospitality).
The Georgina Campbell Awards are Ireland’s longest-running hospitality accolades and completely independent. Unlike most other award schemes, these awards are not commercially driven.