Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A BALLON café has been awarded a prestigious regional gong at the coveted Irish Restaurant Awards 2017.

Café de Mode scooped the title of Leinster’s best café at the regional final, which took place last Wednesday night at the Lyrath Estate, Kilkenny.

We are absolutely delighted, we weren’t expecting it,” said Dave Lloyd, owner of Café de Mode on Chapel Street, Ballon. “We were happy to be nominated, so to win is unbelievable,” he added.

Dave Lloyd, owner of Café de Mode, Ballon, receiving his award for the best café in Leisnter in the Irish Restaurant Awards from category sponsor Rob Attard of Iilly Caffe

Café de Mode opened in December 2016, its name a subtle nod to Dave’s favourite band Depeche Mode. Having worked as a chef for many years, Dave decided to take the plunge and open his own café. The daily fare of gourmet sandwiches, delicious baked goods and hot specials have found instant favour, already establishing a loyal customer base within Ballon and a steady passing trade.

More than 600 people attended the regional final of the Irish Restaurant Awards 2017 on Wednesday night, where six regional awards were presented, while the top establishments in each of Leinster’s 11 counties were also named.

In Carlow, Sha-Roe Bistro in Clonegal was a big winner. It was chosen as the best restaurant in the county, while its owner Henry Stone was awarded the county’s best chef.

Carlow’s best gastro pub was won by Teach Dolmain, while the gong for best casual dining was won by Rathwood, Tullow.

The Lord Bagenal Restaurant was awarded the title of the county’s best hotel restaurant, with Lennons@Visual taking the honours for the best customer service.

Mimosa Wine and Tapas Bar was awarded Carlow’s best wine experience, while Le Fermier won the county’s best newcomer category. The Terrace at Dinn Rí took top honours as the county’s pub of the year.

Speaking at the awards, Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), said the Irish Restaurant Awards continue to showcase the “exquisite and admirable calibre of food available in our restaurants and pubs nationwide.

Online nominations have increased from 9,000 in 2013 to over 80,000 this year, and with the increase in interest comes an increase in standards, making the judging process more difficult than ever,” said Mr Cummins.

All county winners now compete for the regional and all-Ireland title, which will be announced at the Irish Restaurant Awards on Monday 8 May. The next component in the awards includes a mystery guest visit and a national award academy, which includes representatives from each of the regional judging panels, food writers, journalists, bloggers, culinary academics and hospitality magazine editors.

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By Suzanne Pender
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