THE finalists for the Best Winchester Food Experience Award in line with the Winchester Business Excellence Awards have been revealed.
The Chesil Rectory, Hampshire Farmers’ Market, Montagu’s Bistro, Earl of Sandwich and Josie’s were selected from a range of entries for this award, sponsored by Hotel du Vin.
Grant Callaghan, Hotel du Vin general manager, said: “What our award has proven is that we are very fortunate to have such amazing establishments, creating brilliant, locally sourced food, with some of the most talented chefs and proprietors in the UK.
“Hampshire has an abundance of talented and insightful food producers, and farmers too, as well devoted staff that deliver incredible service throughout Winchester and beyond.”
The independently-owned Chesil Rectory promotes local produce, priding itself on excellent service and a wholesome family feel. The business is a unique and historical landmark within the city, earning itself a superior quality and local produce award every year since the Hampshire Hospitality Awards began, and was earlier this year ranked the third most romantic restaurant in the UK by the Times readers’ poll.
Hampshire Farmers’ Market, the largest in the country, attracts thousands of visitors to the fortnightly event boasting 85 stalls. The vibrant marketplace encourages local producers, helps promote new and old businesses and works extensively with well-known TV chefs. The not-for-profit community interest organisation offers people the chance to experience the best of Hampshire produce, from hog roasts and water buffalo burgers to coffees, croissants, homemade cakes and savoury treats.
Nestled in a glass cube in Whiteley Shopping Centre sits Montagu’s Cafe Bar and Bistro. This independent restaurant competes against locally-based national chains, offering everything from coffees and a bite-to-eat to a romantic dinner for two and cocktails. The business particularly prides itself on its open plan kitchen-come-bar-seating-area, giving diners a show with their food as they watch head chef Darren Pitman and sous-chef Ross Vincent.
The Earl of Sandwich, located in the heart of the culinary centre of Winchester, celebrates its 11th year of trading this year.
In 2010 the company re-invented its space in Jewry Street, evolving from a simple takeaway sandwich bar into a sit-down coffee shop. More recently they began to take online orders with a new click-and-collect system and, earlier this year, the team expanded to a second unit to cope with the increasing catering demands, setting up Earl Alfresco.
Josie’s, a coffee shop based in Bishop’s Waltham, opened in 2012 and has flourished quickly, becoming one of the busiest businesses in the town. Customers regularly queue out of the door in order to book a table during the weekend, enticed by the locally-sourced food, relaxed atmosphere and personal attention to detail.