Dovecote, in Morley Hayes, wins Restaurant of the Year gong at the 2012 Derbyshire Food and Drink Awards
STAFF at a Derbyshire restaurant were last night toasting their success after being crowned the very best in the county.
Dovecote, in Morley Hayes, won the Restaurant of the Year gong at the 2012 Derbyshire Food and Drink Awards.
A ceremony at Chatsworth House – which went on until 11pm last night – saw TV chef Simon Rimmer present awards to winners in 12 categories.
The annual awards, organised by Derbyshire County Council, recognise the county's finest food and drink businesses.
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Dovecote Restaurant landed the evening's most prestigious prize, beating competition from The George Hotel, in Hathersage, Horsley Lodge, in Horsley, and Mileburne, in Melbourne.
Dovecote offers both English and continental cuisine and has previously been awarded a prestigious AA Rosette.
Judges said they were impressed that its chefs use fresh produce that is locally sourced.
They also commented on the restaurant's stunning views over a golf course in the Derbyshire countryside.
The restaurant's website states it offers a set menu for lunch, an a la carte dinner menu every evening, a daily dinner special served Monday to Friday, an "excellent" traditional Sunday lunch and "well-stocked" wine cellar.
Other winners last night included Fresh Basil in Belper, which picked up the Best Breakfast award, Anoki in Derby, which was named Best International Restaurant, and Fairways Garden Centre Restaurant in Ashbourne, which earned the Best Healthy Eating Venue gong.
Councillor Kevin Parkinson, cabinet member for regeneration, said choosing the winners had been tough.
He said: "Yet again the standard of entries for our annual Derbyshire Food and Drink Awards was of a very high quality and Chatsworth was a fantastic venue to host our celebration.
"We're certainly blessed with some fantastic restaurants, bistros, pubs and cafes which make the most of excellent food produced locally to serve delicious food and drink.
"The food and drink sector plays an important role in the Derbyshire economy and our awards give much deserved recognition to some very talented people."
Entries were judged on a number of criteria, including the quality of food and drink served, customer service, use of county produce and acknowledgement of it on menus.
They were then judged by an independent panel of food specialists and each short-listed venue had a "mystery shopper" visit.
For the third consecutive year, the Derbyshire Food and Drink Awards were sponsored by HSKS Greenhalgh Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers.
For a full list of winners, visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk.