Chris Walker was a guest judge at the awards
Guest judge Chris Walker reveals the winners
Once again, the best of the best turned out for the biggest and glitziest event on the restaurant calendar – the 2016 Eastside Restaurant Awards.
As representatives from the region’s finest eating establishments gathered at The Crown Hotel for the fourth year, it was clear that the local dining scene continues to go from strength to strength.
Now firmly established as the ultimate celebration of the diverse collection of restaurants in the Doncaster, Rotherham and the North Nottinghamshire area, the Eastside Restaurant Awards are a chance to showcase just what makes our local eateries so special.
Greeted with a chilled glass of Prosecco, our guests gathered to toast the cream of the crop and to find out who had won the top prizes.
The judges had an enjoyable time assessing this years’ nominees, but as usual, choosing the winners was no easy task. Judging covered every aspect of the restaurant experience, from the quality of the food and service, to the ambience and cleanliness and it was only after much deliberation and debate that the final list of winners were chosen.
Swiping this years’ ultimate prize as Eastside Restaurant of the Year was Caviars in Bawtry. Having already picked up the award for Best Contemporary, Caviars had impressed our judges with their cutting-edge cuisine and well-chosen wine list, along with their outstanding service and friendly atmosphere.
Caviars had been shortlisted for the main prize, along with two other outstanding restaurants from the past 12 months – Roccos in Tickhill and The Separatist Inn in Retford.
The competition was tougher than ever and choosing the winners was challenging. Luckily, we had two independent judges on hand. Celebrity MasterChef 2010 contestant and BBC Doctors actor, Chris Walker, and school teacher Ramona Chapman both live locally and were only too happy to help us in our decision making.
Chris has a passion for cooking and an even bigger passion for dining, having hosted a number of dinner parties in his time, as well as reaching the semi-finals in Celebrity MasterChef. Ramona lives in Bawtry and often dines in the local restaurants as a way to relax after a challenging day of work. Her familiarity with local eateries and Chris’ cooking expertise were invaluable to the deliberation process.
The evening was co-hosted by Eastside managing editor, Chris Wilson and publishing manager Terri Moore. Terri was joined by Eastside sales executive Rebecca Hume in presenting the winners with their awards. Both ladies looked stunning in Forever Unique and Jovani dresses from Chique, the Armthorpe boutique that dresses the region’s most stylish ladies.
Once the awards had been dished out and the plates had been cleared, it was time to hit the dancefloor with some top tunes courtesy of DJ Paul of Eyeball Entertainments until the early hours.
The Crown Hotel provided a spectacular venue for this glamourous event, and their six-course menu was absolutely delicious.
Special thanks go to Craig Dowie and all the team at The Crown, who pulled out all the stops to make this year’s Eastside Restaurant Awards the biggest and best yet.
Read on to discover who took home the prized trophies this year…
Best Indian - Aagrah
The Doncaster division of a group of family-run Indian restaurants across Yorkshire, this well-established restaurant is becoming somewhat of a veteran at the Eastside Restaurant Awards, with its authentic recipes served in stylish surroundings winning over the region’s curry lovers year on year.
Asif Ali, general manager, said: “It feels absolutely fantastic, we’ve won this award for three of four years in a row now and it feels great. It’s all about good quality food and good quality service, nothing else. We would like to thank all our customers and all those who support us.”
Best Lunch - Bawtry's Bar & Brasserie
Having undergone somewhat of a transformation in recent years, in the daytime Bawtry’s is a busy café right in the centre of town. It’s contemporary look and menu courtesy of Coleman’s Pizzeria/Steakhouse makes it the place to be for a quick mid-day bite in Bawtry.
Andy Miller, director, said: “It’s been amazing having Bawtry support us, and I like to think that we’ve supported Bawtry too, providing this fantastic venue. I’d like to thank all the staff and my business partner Andy Longworth. And Coleman’s as well, because they provide all our food. It’s all about providing what people want, good quality homemade food in a beautiful setting.”
Best Mediterranean - The Olive Lounge
Dual business Olive Lounge has been creating quite a buzz since it appeared in Wickersley a year ago with its lively cocktail bar downstairs and its relaxed Spanish-style restaurant upstairs. In fact, the restaurant just celebrated its one-year anniversary.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this year,” said venue manager Jonathan Clough. “We’ve got our first birthday party coming up, so we’re celebrating with people from the area and thanking everyone for making us such a success. The staff have also made this possible. From kitchen to bar – they create everything to a high standard.”
Best Pub - The Separatist
Since opening in February, The Separatist has made a huge impact. With an eclectic modern menu served in relaxed contemporary surroundings, it offers everything from comfort food such as pork belly, to weird and wonderful desserts such as Harrogate blue cheese ice cream.
“We’re still trying to form a reputation for ourselves so we’re happily surprised,” said general manager, Malcolm Beanlands. “We’re a little bit different from other pubs. Our food is a bit more modern and a lot of different styles. We now have six boutique style bedrooms too and they’re all named after famous people related to the Mayflower Pilgrims. We couldn’t just have normal rooms, when we’ve got such strange food!”
Best Bar and Grill - Relish
Relish is one of Doncaster’s most lively spots, combining good food, drinks, great service and a friendly atmosphere. Relish’s cocktail menu and regular live music makes it a great destination for parties and celebrations whilst its menu provides an extensive range of pizzas, pastas, grills, burgers and daily specials.
Owners Paul and Becky Moullali were absolutely delighted to win another Eastside restaurant award, having been victorious in the same category last year. Becky said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, we strive to win this. Our success is all down to sheer determination and hard work from our wonderful team, and loyalty from all our customers.”
Best Italian - Roccos
Roccos Italian Kitchen brings authentic Italian cuisine to Tickhill. With heart-warming food, second to none service and a beautiful setting, Roccos was a worthy winner.
Owner Alex Calzini said: “I am very proud, we’ve done very well, I would like to thank everyone that works at Roccos, every single member of staff. Manageress Alison Lomax and head chef Oliver Ellis have done a really good job, they’ve brought it on that extra step.
“I think the biggest thing is the staff being true to the concept, everything is Italian. The sparkling water, the fruit juices, the beer, the lager, everything we’ve got is Italian and they’ve really bought into that.”
Best Hotel - Ye Olde Bell
Relaxed dining in a grand setting with a versatile menu of pub classics, a la carte and daily specials has certainly paid off for Ye Olde Bell.
General manager Kate Firth explains why head chef Tim Stamp’s molecular gastronomy, combined with the team’s service, are a winning combination: “We’re absolutely over the moon! We’ve got a very energetic team who all work together and that’s the thing – it’s all about teamwork and that’s what it’s about tonight. We are proud of what we’ve achieved both back and front of house. We make creative food and deliver great customer service.”
Best Newcomer - Crab & Moo
Covering the whole ground floor of the Grand St Leger Hotel, this restaurant is in a prime position to offer chic décor and a menu with a varied selection of shellfish and meat dishes.
“It’s really good to get the recognition because we’ve put a lot of hard work in,” said general manager, Mark Lawton. “It’s something Doncaster hasn’t had before. We’re trying to bring something new and it seems to have worked. We’ve just put a one kilo crab on the menu, which is going well. We’re keeping the steaks the same because people are saying they’re the best they’ve ever had. We made the decision to stick to the best because that’s what we were looking to achieve.”
Readers' Choice - Coleman's Pizzeria & Steakhouse
Having won last year’s Best Newcomer, owners John and Sarah Coleman were delighted to receive another award. The couple were on holiday so John’s father, Kevin Coleman, collected the award.
“I’m delighted. I think it shows that my son must have inherited something from me,” joked Kevin. “I think it’s the staff that make them stand out. They work really hard.”
John later added: “When we heard we’d not got Best Bar and Grill, we were gutted so this was a nice surprise. We are now looking to expand with a new restaurant in Doncaster and a gourmet take-away in Bawtry.”
Best Contemporary and Eastside Restaurant of the Year 2016 - Caviars
Having scooped Best Contemporary and Restaurant of the Year awards, it was Caviars’ innovative take on modern British cuisine and an extensive, well curated wine list that really caught the judges’ eye.
Kevin Firth, owner, said: “It feels absolutely fabulous to win, Caviars have been nominated four years in a row, it’s taken us a long time to win but I think with head chef Billy Frost’s hard work we’ve finally got the big prize. Billy is only 24 but he’s doing some great things in the kitchen.”
Bruce Drummond, commercial director, said: “Our success is all about teamwork. The front of house staff, the kitchen staff, waiters and waitresses, they’ve all put the effort in and they will all benefit from the award, everyone’s really grafted, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to our team.”