The shortlist has been announced for the 2016 Restaurant of the Year competition.
Organised by The Caterer and Seafish UK, the competition, now in its second year, was created to find restaurants demonstrating both excellent examples of the cooking and serving of fish and shellfish, as well as evidence of fish and shellfish knowledge among their staff both front and back of house.
Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba in Glasgow and the winner of the inaugural Restaurant of the Year competition, said 2015 was the restaurant's best ever year.
"Another thing is that it keeps you on your toes because you're wondering when the judges will come in. I still don't know who came to judge us or when," he added. "I'm looking forward to being a judge myself this year."
Marshall and his co-judges, Jose Souto, chef-lecturer in Culinary Arts, Westminster Kingsway College; Calum Richardson, proprietor of the Bay Fish & Chips, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire; Will Smith, co-proprietor, Arbutus Restaurants, London; Xavier Rousset, wine consultant and part-owner of the Greenwich Kitchen; and AA group area manager Giovanna Grossi determined the following shortlist:
The shortlisted restaurants will now be visited by a 'mystery shopper' appointed by Seafish UK in the next couple of weeks. The Seafish UK auditors will perform a detailed visit to each business including a mystery tasting of product. The scores from the visit stage will be added to the scores from the initial entry form judging, which will determine the top five finalists.
In addition, the judges selected a further 12 restaurants for special praise including:
- Catch, Halifax
- Cod's Scallops, Nottingham
- Dylan's, North wales
- English's of Brighton
- Hawksmoor Air Street, London
- Naked Fish, Bridlington
- Idle Rocks, Cornwall
- Papas, Hull
- The Assheton Arms, Lancashire
- The Griffen Inn, South Wales
- The Scallop Shell, Bath
- The Wensleydale Heifer, Yorkshire
The five finalists will be announced in July, and the winner will be announced at a presentation in London on 7 September.
The 2016 winning restaurant (three members of the team) will be invited on an all-expenses paid study trip to Brixham, Devon, later in the year, to further hone their knowledge regarding the catching, processing and supply of seafood and to meet key industry players and experience some of the world's freshest and tastiest seafood.
The winner will receive a bespoke trophy for their restaurant and an individually designed seafood masterclass at Billingsgate Seafood Training School with a guest chef. There will also be a range of other prizes including vouchers to be redeemed against cookery equipment and signed copies of cookery books.
Andy Gray, trade marketing manager for Seafish, said: "The Restaurant of the Year competition provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the wide range of restaurants, pubs and cafés that are excelling in providing customers with top quality fish and shellfish dining experiences."
I look forward to being part of the next stage of the competition and to sharing the final result later in the year."