Ballarat’s Lydiard Wine Bar was named the Golden Plate Awards overall winner for the second year running, taking out both the Best Restaurant – Relaxed Dining category as well as the overall award at a gala dinner last night.
More than 250 of the region’s top culinary achievers joined the black-tie event at the Mercure Function Centre for the 2012 awards, with the Ballarat and Daylesford region’s finest food and wine celebrated long into the night.
While an impromptu flash mob kicked things off courtesy of the BCMA dance studio, the real highlights were the awards themselves.
Over the past six months, restaurants, hotels and cafes from the region have been scrutinised and reviewed by eight professional national judges.
Last night, their votes were tallied and winners were announced.
The Restaurant Fine Dining winner was Mercato at Daylesford, casual dining was taken out by the Tuki Trout Farm and Eclectic Tastes was named best Licensed Cafe.
Unlicensed Cafe was won by Le Peche Gourmand, Best Customer Service went to the Forge Pizzeria and Best Coffee was won by Sturt Street’s The Bean Barn.
Other awards included People’s Choice (American Hotel), Best Cellar of Local Wine (Avoca Hotel) and Best Barista (Marianna Troup – Three Troupers Pantry).
Lydiard Wine Bar also picked up two other awards, with Best Chef won by Damien Jones, while Nicholas Hinz was judged Outstanding Front of House Person.
Heading up the panel, former editor of The Age Good Food Guide Rita Erlich said all entrants were of a very high standard, but Lydiard Wine Bar’s class shone through.
“This is a shining example of how regional Victoria can deliver and extraordinary dining experience,” she said.
“The main focus is the exquisite food and each mouthful is a memorable experience. Just the way it should be.”
The night also launched the long-awaited Produce to Platter coffee table book featuring the region’s best restaurants, wine and produce.
For more information on the Golden Plate Awards, visit www.goldenplateawards.com.au.