The six judges for the Menu of the Year Catey went through the menu from the Bristol-based River Station item by item. After a few minutes' silence they unanimously agreed that if they were presented with the "innovative" list of dishesthe restaurant had to offer they would have great difficulty making a choice.
The River Station's appeal does not end with the food, however. One judge described it as: "A place that you would feel really comfortable bringing your entire family". This underlined its credentials as a worthy winner of Menu of the Year.
Ian Neill, chief executive of London's Wagamama restaurant summed up the judges' views by describing the River Station as: "An ambitious restaurant with an electric, adventurous and value-for-money menu".
The menu is the creation of chef and proprietor Peter Taylor. His is definitely a success story. Along with his partner, Shirley Ann Bell, he sank more than £900,000 into converting the former police river station.
The gamble has paid off. Covers for the 150-seat restaurant have reached an average of 80 during the week and 180 for a Saturday night. There is also capacity to seat 90 in the downstairs waterside café with deli.
While the huge glass-walled building could be considered an architect's dream, it was the food that caught the attention of the judges. Combinations such as griddled scallops, rice noodles and black bean vinaigrette (£7) for starters followed by seared tea-smoked tuna, Chinese greens, sesame and soy (£11.50), finished by baked Muscat custard with marinated prunes had the panel drooling.
Taylor now offers a three-course set menu from Sunday to Thursday for £16 and a two-course option at £12.95. At lunchtime the price is £13.75 for three courses and £10.50 for two.
The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 2.30pm and from 6pm to 11pm. The café is open from 11am to 11pm with food served up until 9pm.
The Menu of the Year is chosen from the 12 monthly menu winners that feature in the Menuwatch pages of Caterer & Hotelkeeper. This year's entries came from a wide area, including London, Eastbourne, Pembroke, South Wales, and Jersey.