Raising a glass to the creme de la creme

The winners of the 2016 Midlothian Food and Drink Awards with some of the competition sponsors.

The winners of the 2016 Midlothian Food and Drink Awards with some of the competition sponsors.

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The annual celebration of Midlothian’s thriving food and drink industry was held at the National Mining Museum Scotland last week.

Now in its fifth year, the Midlothian Food and Drink Awards recognise the variety and quality of premises and produce across the county.

The big winners on the night were first time nominees from Giovanni’s Bistro, High Street, Penicuik.

The Italian restaurant won Best Place for a Coffee and Best Restaurant Lunch before walking off with the night’s top award for Best Customer Service.

Chris Vita, who runs the restaurant with her husband Giovanni, said: “We just couldn’t believe it.”

The awards are held in conjunction with the Midlothian Tourism Forum and Midlothian Council.

Midlothian Provost Joe Wallace said: “The awards were established in 2012 in line with the Scottish Government’s themed Year of Food and Drink.

“The aim of the awards is to celebrate and recognise the variety and quality of food and drink in Midlothian and to showcase the variety and quality offered by Midlothian businesses, to encourage collaboration and help raise standards across the industry.”

Midlothian’s awards are unique in that it is voting by members of the public which produces the shortlist for each category. Mystery judges also help the juding panel reach a final decision.

Alan Gorrie, chairman of the tourism forum’s food and drink steering group, said: “The number of actual people voting was slightly down this year but that meant the categories were a lot closer.

“There was one category where only two points separated the winner and runner up. We had to check the voting three times.

“This year’s competition was a lot closer and there was no real clear winner in each category.”

He thanked the public for taking the time to vote for their favourite establishments and said there would be a review of procedures for next year to make it even more easy to vote.

Midlothian’s tourism spokesman Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP) added: “The level of competition was incredibly high and the sheer number of votes and wide range of contenders for the awards highlights how fortunate we are to enjoy excellent food and drink on our doorstep.”

Apart from the catagory sponsors, other supporters of the competition include the Midlothian Advertiser, Businss Gateway, Dalkeith Country Park, Saltire Hospitality, the National Mining Museum Scotland, Stewart Brewing, Toatie Tablet, Oxnefoord Estate, Supernature Oils, and Deli-licious Catering.

The Midlothian Food and Drink Awards 2016 winners and runners up are:

l Best place for a coffee (sponsored by Itihaas) – winner: Giovanni’s, Penicuik; runners up; Gigi’s, Bonnyrigg, and The Wheelhouse, Newtongrange.

l Best place for a pint (sponsored by JB Foods Ltd) - winner: The Dean Tavern, Newtongrange; runners up: The Paper Mill, Lasswade, and The Laird and Dog, Lasswade.

l Best place for Cafe lunch (sponsored by IKEA) - winner: Cafe Troy, Dalkeith; runners up: Poddingtons, Straiton, and The Wheelhouse, Newtongrange.

l Best place for restaurant lunch (sponsored by Springford’s Chartered Accountants) - winner: Giovanni’s, Penicuik; runners up: The Dean Tavern, Newtongrange, Stewarts Bar and Grill, Penicuik, and The Beijing Banquet, Danderhall.

l Best place for Dinner (sponsored by Flowers by Lamb) - winner: Gigi’s, Bonnyrigg; runners up: The Paper Mill, Lasswade; Stewarts Bar and Grill, Penicuik, and The Beijing Banquet, Danderhall.

l Best place for a takeaway (sponsored by COSTCO) - winner: Dino’s, Loanhead; runners up: Morelli’s, Gorebridge, and Gloria’s, Bonnyrigg.

l Best Customer Service (sponsored by Arthur McKay) – winner: Giovanni’s, Penicuik; runners up: Gigi’s, Bonnyrigg, and The Wheelhouse, Newtongrange.