Irish Restaurant Awards entries open
A Londonderry restaurant will be hoping to make it a hat-trick at this year's Irish Restaurant Awards having been named 'best Ulster restaurant' for the second time in the 2016 all-Ireland competition.
The launch of the 2017 awards - which are run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland - came as the city's mayor hosted a civic reception for Browns Restaurant and Champagne Lounge to celebrate their double success.
Browns first won the title in 2013, the same year Derry was named the UK's City of Culture.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland Awards are a rigorous five-month process which involve online public nominations, judging panels and mystery guest inspections.
This year, there are 20 categories including a new one for 'Pub of the Year', and national categories for Best Cocktail Experience, Best Private Dining and Club Restaurant, Best Cookery School, Best Seafood Experience and Best Digital Marketing.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association, said: "The aim of the Irish Restaurant Awards is to honour the hard working people of the hospitality industry from cocktail makers, sommeliers and waiters to restaurant managers and local food champions.
"The restaurant industry is the biggest employer within the Irish tourism sector, employing over 74,000 people and these awards are a celebration and acknowledgement of the hard work put in by restaurateurs year round."
Last year the island's top accolade - the all-Ireland restaurant of the year - was snatched by Dublin restaurant Luna.
Marcus Roulston, owner of Browns Restaurant & Champagne Lounge, said: "We strive to serve award winning food every day in our restaurants and for our staff to provide an unforgettable dining experience. Everything in our kitchen is locally sourced and handmade and this accolade for Browns Restaurant and Champagne Lounge is testament to the effort that the team puts into every dish we plate."
Entries close at 12 noon tomorrow. County winners will be announced in March and the all-Ireland final will take place in Dublin in May.