THREE regional restaurants have retained their hats in The Age’s Good Food Guide.
Masons of Bendigo and Castlemaine restaurants The Public Inn and The Good Table all received a hat in the 2017 guide earlier this week.
All three restaurants also received a hat in last year’s Good Food Guide.
The restaurant owners said it was a nervous wait for the announcements.
“It is the best result but it was the most nervy one. Getting a hat one year and losing it straight away wouldn’t be great,” Public Inn manager Ben Leonard said.
“Something like this throws the net wider, so to speak, and reaffirms the hard work.”
Masons of Bendigo owners Nick and Sonia Anthony said their restaurant’s hat highlighted why it was important to use local produce.
“What we love about it is being able to use local produce and producers to highlight how good that produce is as well as the hospitality we are offering in Bendigo,” Nick said.
“When we first opened Masons, we wanted a fantastic local restaurant, wanted to look after local communities and cook great food.
“We are so thrilled and can't believe how far we’ve come.”
The Good Table owner Alexander Perry said it was nice to be recognised.
“It is lovely to be compared some of the Melbourne restaurants in the guide,” he said.
But while the three restaurants have impressed those in the industry, as well as the Good Food Guide, they have also impressed their customers.
Public Inn and The Good Table both average 4 stars on TripAdvisor, while Masons of Bendigo averages 4.5.
“TripAdvisor is a more commercial platform, but both are equally important,” Nick said.
“It’s a cliche but cooking at our level takes a lot of commitment from all our staff who put in 100 per cent effort in an often tireless and thankless job.”
Ben said sites like TripAdvisor were a different kettle of fish to industry awards.
“It’s great when it’s favourable, but generally when people review stuff online, it is usually a forum for complaint more than anything else. But any kind of feedback is always good,” he said.
Sonia said it was fantastic to have three hats at restaurants in the region.
“It’s fantastic that it will encourage people to come into the region, spend money and stay overnight. It is such a win for everyone,” she said.
Ben agreed, saying it was good to have such a strong base of restaurants in the region.
“A lot of people do food tourism now and are coming from city,” he said.
“So it is good to have as many good reasons to visit (central Victoria) as possible.”