The Age Good Food Guide 2017 Awards have been released, and a number of pubs entered or improved their Hatted status amongst an elite list of fine dining establishments.

A total of 89 of Victoria’s finest eateries were awarded 1, 2 or 3 Chefs Hats, with an outstanding appearance by regional establishments, including three pubs holding a total of five Hats.

Editor for the Guide, Roslyn Grundy, acknowledged the influence of the trend of growing in-house produce, which has in some way led to the influx of winners from outside the cities.

“Without being conscious of it as we made decisions about award-winners, this really was the year when regional restaurants put city restaurants on notice.”

Amongst stiff competition, Richmond’s The Grand, with its kitchen that “beats with an Italian heart” earned a Hat. Highline Restaurant in The Railway Hotel Windsor backed up the Hat it got last year after just three months open.

But outside of the capital was where the food action heated up, with 29 eateries earning Hats. This included a regained honour for the Healesville Hotel, which temporarily lost its Hat last year.

Outstandingly, two pubs received 2 Hat status in regional Victorian hotels. The Royal Mail, Dunkeld, is one of those that has embraced the ‘chef’s harvest’ concept, with manicured gardens inspiring the day’s menu and providing an array of regular and seasonal produce.

Five hours north, on the NSW border, Stephano’s in the Mildura Brewery, was awarded its second Hat for continued excellence.

The Australian Hotels Association Victoria told PubTIC the list says a lot about the quality of food in pubs.

“AHA (Vic) is thrilled to see the evolution of pub food!” said Kimberley Malcolm, manager – member services. “We are very proud of their achievements.

“Getting the basics right in pubs is imperative, but so too is meeting your customers’ needs. Our members who won hats at The Age Good Food Awards continue to demonstrate the high quality and consistency for which our industry is increasingly known.

“Good food is attracting people to pubs!”

The Age Good Food Guide 2017 Best New Restaurant is in fact a wine bar named Embla, in Russell Street.


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