Monday, 21 October 2013

Second chance - The Observer Food Monthly Awards 2013 and the Runners Up for Wales


The Observer Food Monthly Awards, now in their 10th year, are a high profile fixture in the food calendar and of particular interest to me as a Welsh food blogger. The organisation of the public vote 'runners up' into geographical segments gives Welsh food businesses a significant opportunity rarely seen elsewhere and are even more important given the demise of the True Taste Awards.

Here is a quick summary of the votes from Wales this year.

Best Restaurant – runners up
No big surprises in this category with reliable favourites The Hardwick and The Potted Pig appearing in both 2012 and 2013. This year the list included West Wales notable, Y Polyn (slogan – ‘fat equals flavour, live with it’) and it was refreshing to see an Indian restaurant recognised with Canton's Purple Poppadom making the cut.

Best Ethical Restaurant – runners up
This 75% Cardiff based shortlist understandably features 2 vegetarian restaurants, student favourite Vegetarian Food Studio, and the eclectic Milgi Lounge on City Road which comes complete with a yurt. One of my favourites, inventive neighbourhood restaurant Canteen on Clifton Street completes the Cardiff trio while the rest of Wales is represented by Treehouse in Aberystwyth.

Best Cheap Eats – runners up
Interesting category this, recognising restaurants at under £15 a head which is no mean feat given spiralling produce prices. I find it astonishing that anyone manages this, let alone in London where rents and rates are astronomical. From this category I can heartily recommend Ultracomida both to eat in and to shop from. Again, Cardiff was well represented with newcomer Katiwok and a second mention for Milgi. The one surprise for me was arts centre Chapter which has its place, but for my money there are better options at this price point.



Best Sunday Lunch - runners up
I've been on something of a mission this year to find top quality Sunday roasts which are often the best value meal at many restaurants. I heartily agree with the inclusion of The Potted Pig here, an excellent roast which I thoroughly enjoyed; and from the same stable The Lansdowne pub. We also have a third nod for Milgi and a new entry this year for The Plough in Whitchurch. A clean sweep for Cardiff then and I have to admit some disappointment that the Felin Fach Griffin was missing.

Best place to drink – runners up
Wales could never be accused of having a shortage of good pubs and the resurgence in real ale over the last couple of years has improved the quality of hostelries. In Mid Wales the Harbourmaster was recognised for its real ales and sea views. In Cowbridge, Bar 44 gets a well-deserved mention, I strongly recommend the sherry and cocktail menus, while in Cardiff Chapter appears again (in the most appropriate category to my mind) and is duly recognised for what might be the widest and most varied selection of beers, ales and ciders in the ‘Diff. Finally Porters with its mix of comedy, cinema and good beers makes the cut.

Best independent retailer – runners up
The category with the broadest geographical spread, special mention has to go to Gower Cottage Brownies for their 4th nomination, a fantastic achievement. Blasus Delicatessen in Carmarthenshire (a new name for me) gets a nod for their ‘olives and warm tarts’ and Cardiff newcomer One Mile Bakery for ultra-local bread and soup deliveries. Finally, Cardiff institution Wally’s Delicatessen rounds off the list, if for nothing else than for always being the answer to the question ‘Where can I get some halva/fresh yeast/czabi’

Fantastic to see so many great Welsh businesses promoted again this year and huge congratulations to all the businesses nominated but wouldn't it be great next year to see some businesses North of Aberystwyth included for an honourable mention?

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