The reviews have been tallied and the results are in.
New England has nabbed a number of coveted spots in the ultimate foodies’ bible – The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide 2014.
Haydon Hall in Murrurundi, Willow Tree Inn’s Graze Restaurant, Neram Harvest in Armidale and Addimi Espresso in Tamworth have been singled out for their impeccable food, service, ambience and “wow” factor by guide reviewers, who trawled the state in the name of research earlier this year.
Establishments needed to score at least 12 points out of 20 to be eligible for a review.
Haydon Hall owners Peter Carlin and Jane Sullivan opened their courtyard cafe at Murrurundi’s historic Commonwealth Bank of Sydney building in 2009.
The “Sydney escapees” say embracing seasonal fruits and vegetables and varying their menus monthly have been the keys to Haydon Hall’s success.
“Nowadays everyone expects to be able to buy the same food 12 months of the year, which obviously means it’s been imported or put in cold storage, which reduces the flavour,” Mr Carlin said.
For the owners of Graze Restaurant, Charles and Cheryl Hanna, receiving a nod two years in a row has been “a great accolade”, which Mr Hanna attributes to his dedicated staff and talented chefs.
“Our customers get great service from the time they walk in to the time they pay the bill,” he said.
Produce is also a big focus for Graze, with the beef and lamb featured on the menu being lovingly bred just 2km from the hotel.
With more than 3500 customers on its coffee loyalty card system, Addimi Espresso has been highly recommended by the guide ever since it opened its doors in March 2010.
Internationally trained barista and former Sydney resident Adrian Coffey, who co-owns the cafe with his parents, said it was a combination of service, high-quality and consistent coffee, weekly menu changes and the fact “we offer restaurant-quality food in a cafe” which got the reviewers’ attention.
“We don’t work for the awards, but it is nice to be recognised by food professionals,” Mr Coffey said.