By Lynn Carr and Jean Ragg, Senior Client Account Managers, Customer Perceptions
On Monday May 13th, we were delighted to be invited to attend the 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards. Now in its 11th year, the Irish Restaurant Awards are arguably the biggest night of the year in the Irish hospitality industry. This year’s event garnered over 90,000 nominations from the public.
This was our 4th year in attendance as the official mystery shop provider of the Irish Restaurant Awards and what a wonderful night it was.
Across a 5-week period in March and April, Customer perceptions conducted 450 Mystery Guest Inspections across Ireland. The results of these inspections held 40% of the weighting for the awards. It was no mean feat for the Customer Perceptions team, but as always, we were up to the task.
With 6 courses ahead, prepared by some of the best chefs in the country, we could not wait for the awards to begin. The starter, prepared by Ethna Reynolds of Nook Restaurant in Sligo, was a beautiful Tostada with Slow Roast Pork Belly, Beetroot Crema, Pickled Rhubarb, Salsa and Feta. This was followed by a Wild Garlic and Nettle Crumb Soup served with a selection of breads prepared by apprentice chefs.
The fish course was a beautiful Steamed Monkfish prepared by Paul Hynes of La Cote Seafood Restaurant in Wexford, while the main course prepared by Tom, Flavin of The Limerick Strand Hotel was Wild Boar with Free Range Pork Boudin and Mature Cheddar Colcannon.
To finish, dessert was a Velvet Cloud Set Cream with Valhrona Opalys, Strawberries and Highbank Balsamic prepared by Conor Mee of Courthouse Restaurant in Carrickmacross. This was literally heaven on a plate. The All-Ireland Cheeseboard followed this, and was divine, consisting of goat’s cheese, blue cheese and brie.
Loam Restaurant in Galway scooped the top prize of Best Restaurant in Ireland, while Graham Neville of Dax Restaurant was awarded Best Chef in Ireland. We were delighted for Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill who won Best Restaurant in Leinster, a much-deserved prize for a local establishment.
It was a fantastic night. It was a true testament to the hard work of the Restaurant’s Association of Ireland and a great opportunity to celebrate the commitment, passion and skill of those in the industry. As we left, the Krispy Kreme doughnut wall caught our attention. A snack for the road, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already!
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