By SAM BUTLER
The best venues in Northern Ireland to enjoy an except-ional breakfast have been named at a major event in Dublin.
The Irish Breakfast Awards, organised by renowned food writer Georgina Campbell, celebrated the establishments offering the tastiest first meal of the day.
The expert judging panel named five local venues as highly commended for the excellence of the breakfasts served. The successful Northern Ireland venues were:
Merchant Hotel, Belfast, in the five-star hotel category;
Bushmill’s Inn in County Antrim in the four-star hotel category;
Blackwell House, Scarva, in the Best Guesthouse category;
Brunel’s Restaurant in Newcastle in Complete Natural Brunch; and
Ravenhill Guest House, Belfast, in Best Breakfast Menu.
The awards, now entering their fourth year, showcase Ireland’s leading hospitality establishments and those in them who work to make the first meal of the day a particularly special experience for visitors and regulars alike.
Georgina Campbell said the “significance of the humble breakfast cannot be underestimated”.
“It is key to Ireland’s reputation in food and tourism as a world-class hotel or a fine dining restaurant.
“A great Irish breakfast starts with the raw materials and as part of these awards we identify exceptional Irish breakfast food producers who help chefs turn a good breakfast into an outstanding one,” she added.
“Using high quality, Irish produce is the foundation on which chefs and business owners need to build to create great and memorable breakfast experiences.
“However, sourcing local, season-al and quality produce is often overlooked when it comes to the first meal of the day, and that has to change if we want to support our indigenous food industry and fly the flag for Irish producers, and the Irish breakfast, both at home and abroad,” she added.
In the produce available to the Irish hospitality sector, Ireland had “a unique opportunity to elevate the Irish breakfast scene into something quite special that we can be proud of”.
The awards are run with Fáilte Ireland and took place at the InterContinental Dublin, with special guest and previous Irish Breakfast award-winner Neven Maguire of MacNean House and Restaurant, Black Lion.
“Getting the basics right is so important,” he said. “The option of preparing a great breakfast using 100 per cent Irish produce is available to us all, and we don’t have to look too far to find these terrific products,” he continued.
“At MacNean House and Rest-aurant we put as much emphasis on giving our guests as memorable a food experience for breakfast as the dinner the night before. It is the last meal our guests have before they leave, so we want to make it special.”