BENDIGO’S top restaurants have been recognised at the Golden Plate Awards.
About 200 of the region’s pubs, restaurants and cafes took part in Monday night’s ceremony at Bendigo Cinemas.
Castlemaine venue the Public INN took out the top award, which owner Hayden Winch said had been “fantastic” for the business.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic,” he said.
“Winning the overall award was fantastic.
“It was very much a team effort.”
Two judges visited each venue twice to sample cuisine and assess the eateries on a range of factors.
Judging panel president Rita Erlich said she had been impressed by the entrants.
“Bendigo’s stacking up pretty well,” she said.
“We’re not particularly interested in the places that are trying to be Melbourne lookalikes.
“The thing I love about these competitions is that all the entrants are encouraged to be part of their area.
“The difference between them is often the difference between the regions.”
Ms Erlich said while venues were “all doing things slightly differently”, Bendigo had a trend towards craft beer and high quality coffee, and said pork belly was quite popular.
“The Railway Hotel in Castlemaine, which has just changed hands, won the best value for money category,” she said.
“That’s very important for a couple of reasons.
“If you’re going to get best value, you’ve got to be doing things right.
“If you’re serving cheap bad food, then it’s not good value.
“But they’re accessible and they’re keen, which is really important.”
Railway Hotel owner Peter Griffin said the award would be a boost to the business.
“We strive to make sure our menu is accessible to people and price is always something we need to consider,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a challenge to make sure we deliver on all fronts, including quality.”
Ms Erlich said there had been a pub revival in the region.