Story By: Ulster Gazette Thursday, 7 April 2016
A NUMBER of Armagh eateries have come out trumps in this year’s Ulster Regional Final of the Irish Restaurant Awards.
4Vicars scooped the Best Casual Dining category, while the award for Best Restaurant went to Uluru Bistro.
The Moody Boar restaurant also picked up an award for Best Customer Service, while Uluru Bistro clinched a second award for Best Wine Experience.
Shapla Indian Restaurant was also recognised with an award for Best World Cuisine, while Best Café went to One Eighty Restaurant in Portadown.
Speaking to the Ulster Gazette, 4Vicars Chef Patron Gareth Reid – who together with his wife Kasia – have been running the well-known eatery since 2014, spoke of their delight at clinching the Best Casual Dining category.
Gareth, a former Royal School Armagh pupil, cut his teeth as a chef in France, Spain and London at Michelin starred Restaurant Tom Aikens, and also worked within the Conran group, running the canapé section at prestigious outside caterers, Rhubarb Food Design.
Upon returning to Ireland, Gareth was head chef of Delphi Lodge in Connemara, which won Best Country House Hotel during his first year.
His next challenge involved running the kitchen of the newly opened Delphi Club in the Bahamas, which proved to be a culinary triumph.
4Vicars Restaurant is Gareth and his wife Kasia’s first restaurant and it is situated in a prime location next to Armagh’s ancient cathedral church of St Patrick, with beautiful views over the city.
The food is focused on fresh local ingredients and the menus are small and change often.
In its short history, 4Vicars Restaurant has already achieved much success, winning Best New Restaurant in the county within its first year, as well as this latest and much coveted award of Best Casual Dining in the county.
Gareth’s wife Kasia, who manages 4Vicars, gave up a career in finance after a gap year travelling the world brought her to Delphi Lodge in Connemara, where she found her true calling with a career in the hospitality industry.
Over the last nine years, Kasia – who looks after every service need at 4Vicars with grace, charm and enthusiasm – has grown in experience, firstly running the front of house in Delphi Lodge in Connemara and then at the Delphi Club on Abaco Bahamas.
“We are delighted to have won this award and hope to keep on improving what we do at 4Vicars year on year,” explained Gareth, who has worked in the industry for around 15 years.
“It is nice to get the reward at the end of the year. We are all over the moon and are very happy to get the appreciation and are very happy our customers have been so supportive.
“We won Best Newcomer last year when we had just opened. That was terrific and now in the second year, to win the Best Casual Dining, is good recognition.
“We have special thanks to all our hard working staff and our wonderful customers without whom we could not exist.”
Over 40 restaurants, hotel restaurants and chefs were honoured at the prestigious awards at the Ulster Regional Final, which took place at The Main Hall, at the Guildhall in Londonderry.
Speaking at the awards, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins said: “The Irish Restaurant Awards celebrate their eighth year this year and have become the Island’s biggest food awards.
“The credibility that these awards have is reflected in the amount of nominations they received this year – over 70,000 individual nominations were cast across 14 categories, showing that these are the awards that everyone wants to win.
“The Irish restaurant scene is internationally recognised for its high calibre of restaurateurs and chefs. These awards celebrate the people that make the restaurant sector the dynamic and exciting industry it is,” he said.
All county winners will now go on to compete for the Regional and All Ireland title which will be announced at the Irish Restaurant Awards in the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Dublin on Monday, May 16.