Restaurants, Bars & Cafes

Oxfordshire’s top eateries are rewarded

By Sarah Edwards

The Baskerville at Shiplake is 2016 Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year.

Last night (1 November) The Baskerville was awarded top accolade of 2016 Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year at a dazzling ceremony organised by The In Oxford Group, publishers of Living in Oxford Magazine and sponsored by Hedges Law.

The Baskerville received the prestigious award in front of over 250 guests, including the county’s top chefs and restaurateurs. The judging panel, chaired by Alain Desenclos, Maître d’ of Le Manoir Quat’Saisons for 26 years, was impressed by the owners’ pride in the food they create at The Baskerville, which was also winner of the best Gastro Pub/Brasserie category.

Kevin Hannah, owner of The Baskerville, said: “I nearly fell off my seat when it was announced that we had won. I thought we might be in with a chance to win our category, but not to win the top award.

“It’s down to 13 years of hard work with my Dad and all of us as a family, my incredible staff, every single person who has worked with us, and a lot of hours.”

Orwells at Binfield Heath also celebrated success as Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman jointly won chef of the year.

Organiser, Richard Rosser, Chief Executive of the In Oxford Group said: “Well over 250 people work tirelessly behind the scenes to make these awards such a success. The smiles all around make it such a wonderful occasion and the hard work and hours we all put in are certainly worth it.”

Acanthus Restaurant, at the iconic Macdonald Randolph Hotel, was awarded the prize for their top restaurant. The Randolph’s William Thomson, recent winner of the Young Concierge of the Year, presented the auction in aid of Helen & Douglas House alongside the charity’s Head of Partnerships, Hugh Thompson.

Students from Oxford City College once again helped to prepare and serve guests. Olivia Blackwell, a level 3 student on the supervisory course at the college, was front of house. She said: “it’s been a great experience for our assessment – and for teamwork.”

Nicola Poole, Managing Director of Hedges Law was on the judging panel and co-presented the awards. She said: “This is out second year as main sponsor for these fantastic awards. It’s an absolute pleasure to be so closely involved in recognising the very best our county has to offer in the hospitality sector.

“This year saw new categories in the awards and higher than ever levels of excellence from our nominees. Hospitality is a major pillar of the local economy and now contributes to 10% of direct employment in the county. There are currently over 160,000 reviews of 1700 Oxfordshire restaurants on TripAdvisor. There are 200 more restaurants than last year and there are 50,000 more reviews. Testament to the power of reviews, recognition, and of course, awards.”

This was the first year an award was given for the Most Sustainable Restaurant, won by the Vaults and Garden Café in Radcliffe Square. Hannah Fenton, Manager of Good Food Oxford, sponsor and judging this award said: “This award celebrates the restaurant that puts sustainability at the heart of its business – with a farmer-first approach to sourcing, delicious vegetarian options, excellent efforts on food waste reduction and great communication with customers.”

The Garden Café at Restore won an award for distinction for extraordinary achievement. If you haven’t visited this oasis just off the Cowley Road yet, you should make the trip.

Another new and hotly contested category was for the best college dining room, won by St Antony’s College. The much acclaimed Restaurant 56 at Sudbury House, Faringdon won the best gastronomic restaurant for the second year running and last year’s Restaurant of the Year, The White Hart at Fyfield, won the Public Vote.

Richard Haddon and Michael Verkoren, owners of the Swan Inn at Ascott-under-Wychwood were delighted with their win for the best traditional pub restaurant in Oxfordshire.

Richard said: “Everybody at The Swan, Ascott under Wychwood, is absolutely delighted to have won ‘Best Traditional Pub’ – especially with such strong and superb competition from the other finalists.”

The winners of the 2016 Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards are:

2016 Restaurant of the Year
Recognising the very best of the best, this award was decided between all the winners of the other categories.
Winner: The Baskerville

Express, Deli, Café
For dining on the go or a quick meal in an informal setting.
Winner: Aston Pottery Country Café
Runners Up: Vaults & Garden Café, Mission Burrito

Gastro Pub / Brasserie
Relaxed settings but where there is a great emphasis placed on the quality of food and service. Menus often contain culturally-specific and possibly ‘rustic’ dishes, which require considerable skill to execute.
Winner: The Baskervillle
Runners Up: The Pointer Brill, Quod and The Kingham Plough

Gastronomic Restaurant
Formal restaurants featuring dishes that exhibit finesse, complexity and considerable skill in execution; extensive product knowledge of staff; and attentive yet unobtrusive service.
Winner: Restaurant 56 at Sudbury House
Runners Up: Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse, The Lamb Inn, Burford

Traditional Pub Restaurant
A uniquely British institution for conviviality and community, serving good quality food and a range of beers.
Winner: The Swan Inn, Ascott-under-Wychwood
Runners Up: The Maytime Inn, the Killingworth Castle

Restaurants serving exclusively Asian cuisine.
Winner: Thaikhun
Runners Up: Qumins, Gurkha Village

The Wellers Public Vote
The popular vote from submissions by the public.
Winner: The White Hart, Fyfield
Runners Up: Thaikun, Old Bookbinders and The Snooty Mehmaan

Outstanding Service Award
Awarded for outstanding quality of service by the judging panel based on their reviews.
Winner: La Cucina
Runners Up: The Chester, Restaurant 56 at Sudbury House and Pierreponts Café/Restaurant, Goring

Award of Distinction
Awarded to an individual, restaurant or organisation that has achieved something extraordinary which should be celebrated.
Winner: Garden Café at Restore
Runners Up: Yellow Submarine and The White Hart at Minster Lovell

The 2016 City of Oxford College Trainee Award
Awarded to an individual who has achieved success through apprenticeship or another formal programme leading to a qualification. The judges were looking for a learner, whose success has made a difference to the workplace, thereby helping the business to grow through developing a talented, motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.
Winner: Chris Angus, St Anne’s College
Runners Up: Zac Doughey, The Oxford Kitchen, ,Aishia Johnston, Wofson College

Living in Oxford Award
The Living in Oxford team’s favourite.
Winner: Acanthus Restaurant
Runners Up: GAF
The Kingham Plough

Oxfordshire’s Most Sustainable Restaurant
Restaurants with have entered this category because they are proud of their sustainable attributes whether this is recycling, sourcing food locally or environmentally friendly paper used for their menus.
Winner: Vaults and Garden Café
Runners Up: The Partridge Wallingford
, The Garden Café at Restore

Best College Dining Room
Superb restaurants within the Oxford College walls.
Winner: St Antony’s
Runners Up: Lady Margaret Hall
St Anne’s

Chef of the Year
A chef that has excelled, worked well under pressure and created some masterpieces.
Winner: Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman, Orwells
Runner’s Up: Rohan Kashid, Quod
Ray Killick, St Anne’s

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons Award for Excellence
Nominated and awarded by the judging panel to an individual or restaurant in recognition of an outstanding contribution and positive impact on the reputation of Oxfordshire as a dining destination.
Winner: The Oxford Kitchen
Runners Up: Old Parsonage
The Bell at Hampton Poyle


Celebrations for the team from The Baskerville

All photography by Living in Oxford Magazine