The annual awards, which is run in conjunction with Bord Bia and tourist website ireland-guide.com, acts as a who’s who of the best places to eat, drink, and stay in Ireland.
This year, premises in Galway, Clare, Derry, Wexford, and Cork took home the major prizes.
The Best Restaurant award went to Kai Café and Restaurant in Galway, which was singled out as an “extraordinary little restaurant” and a “must-visit for food lovers from all over Ireland when coming to the west”.
The Best Seafood Restaurant also went west, with Mitchell’s Restaurant in Clifden in Galway taking the top prize for its “delicious food and outstanding service”.
Other winners included:
* Derek Creagh, Harry’s Restaurant, Bridgend, Donegal (Chef of the Year);
* The Long Dock, Carrigaholt, Co Clare (Pub of the Year;
* Bill and Isabelle Kelly, Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford (Georgina Campbell Award, for special contribution to Irish hospitality);
n ‘Just Ask’ Restaurant of the Year — No 5 Fenn’s Quay Restaurant, Cork.
Every year, Ms Campbell and her team of assessors comb the country’s hotels, country houses, guesthouses, restaurants, pubs and cafés, seeking out the best consumer experiences for readers of The Guide and followers of the successful website, ireland-guide.com.
Ms Campbell said using anonymous assessment ensures that the very best in Irish hospitality is rewarded for their hard work.
“Our programme of anonymous assessment visits has continued throughout the season as usual, always keeping a sharp eye out for those exceptional establishments which are right on top of their game and going the extra mile for customers,” she said.
Ms Campbell said there was “no doubt” that Ireland was in recovery, and that this was borne out by a marked upturn in the hospitality sector.
“A marked upturn in business has been reported everywhere, and this is borne out by official figures,” she said. “Better access through Shannon has given the West a much needed boost, probably helped by the publicity drive ahead of launching the Wild Atlantic Way this spring — although this initiative has elicited mixed feelings for a number of reasons, including excessive signage, which can be very intrusive.
“The western counties tend to work especially hard to attract and keep visitors, and they are well represented in our awards.”
As for food trends, Ms Campbell said that sea vegetables, buffalo and goat meat were in fashion for discerning foodies.
“Vegetables are being taken much more seriously, foraging remains a big interest both for chefs and the public, and one of our most prolific renewable resources — sea vegetables — is a very hot topic,” she said.
“On the meat front, buffalo meat from West Cork is a niche interest, but growing, and at last there are signs of interest in one of our most neglected foods — goat meat.”
* Georgina Campbell Award 2015 for Services to Irish Food and Hospitality — Bill & Isabelle Kelly, Kelly’s Hotel, Rosslare, Co Wexford.
* Hotel of the Year — Beech Hill House Hotel, Derry.
* Restaurant of the Year — Kai Café & Restaurant, Galway.
* Chef of the Year — Derek Creagh, Harry’s Restaurant, Bridgend, Co Donegal.
* ‘Just Ask’ Restaurant of the Year — No 5 Fenn’s Quay Restaurant, Cork City.
* Seafood Restaurant of the Year — Mitchell’s Restaurant, Clifden, Co Galway.
* Seafood Chef of the Year — Frankie Mallon, An Port Mór Restaurant, Westport, Co Mayo.
* Outstanding Guest Experience — Blairscove House & Restaurant, Durrus, Co Cork