Awards – why do they never feel inclusive?

The Estrella Damm  National Restaurant Awards were held in June this year. They………

“celebrate the brilliance and vibrancy of the UK’s eating out scene, and reward the very best chefs, front of house staff and restaurants the country has to offer”.

We agree the UK scene is vibrant but how accessible and inclusive were the winners of the awards. We did a survey asking each about their accessibility for disabled people. Here are the results:

The Chef & Restaurant to Watch was Tom Brown whose new fish restaurant is Cornerstone – Hackney Wick. He was a finalist on the BBC Great British Menu 2018 and previously worked for Nathan Outlaw. The response from Cornerstone regarding access was ‘we do have a disabled toilet and there is flat access for wheelchairs and ambulant disabled people’. It has only recently opened and The Standard review said

‘I don’t think Tom Brown is wondering whether a fish is fashionable or not. And rightly so – who cares? The tasting menu works and is fair at £45. Is the site the right foundation for the brilliance that’s swimming around his head? Ask in eight months. In the meantime, even if not absolutely everything lands, much is spellbinding. Go.’

Cornerstone gets an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks.

Best Restaurant in N.Ireland was Wine and Brine run by another Great British Menu chef Chris McGowan. They said ‘Yes we have a disabled toilet and have flat access for wheelchair and ambulant disabled people.’ It’s located in Moira near Belfast and the Belfast Telegraph review said,

‘….the tongue and cheek pie, the dish which enhanced McGowan’s name following his performance on Great British Menu, is something which should be on everyone’s bucket list. Four or five slices of beautifully pink, tender and moist prime rib on top of a bell-shaped, short crust pie with chunks of tongue, beef, turnip and carrot inside made this one of the most memorable dishes I’ve eaten this year.’

Wine & Brine Looks Bright With Good Space for Wheelchairs. A Welcome Addition to N. Ireland's Food Scene
Wine & Brine Looks Bright With Good Space for Wheelchairs. A Welcome Addition to N. Ireland’s Food Scene

Wine and Brine gets an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks.

Best Restaurant in ScotlandOndine  said ‘yes we do have a disabled toilet as well as a lift for guests in wheelchairs. ‘ It’s a seafood restaurant on the first floor in Victoria st. on George IV St. overlooking the best of Edinburgh. Jay Rayner said of Ondine
‘cooking is simple and classy and in service of some excellent ingredients (it has certification from the Marine Stewardship Council for its sustainable-buying practices).’
Ondine 1st Floor Seafood Restaurant, Edinburgh. Smooth Flooring & Space for Wheelchairs
Ondine 1st Floor Seafood Restaurant, Edinburgh. Smooth Flooring & Space for Wheelchairs
Ondine gets an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks
Best Restaurant in Wales was Ynyshir and they replied, ‘there are three steps to enter the main house – a portable ramp can be set up for wheelchair users. There are no handrails here however.  Once in the main house, the bar and restaurant are on same level. There is a very short and shallow ramp to the restrooms where one is suitable for wheelchair users. We do have three ground floor rooms outside the main house  – two of which have ramps and the third which has three shallow steps and a handrail. These rooms do not have specific features for disabled/ambulant people.’ Their food and style is intriguing as you all eat a tasting menu together (£140 or £180/head) and their mission is ‘Ingredient Led, Flavour Driven, Fat Fuelled, Meat Obsessed’. They’ve been awarded a Michelin Star and Grace Dent of The Guardian said of Ynyshir,
‘Welsh/Japanese-influenced, Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on fatty meat, fermentation and pickling……….What Ward is doing down in the Dyfi Valley is unique. It will surprise me if he stays with only one star. Gareth Ward cooks for himself, not the customers, and long may his delicious pigheadedness continue’.

Ynyshir restaurant (not the rooms) gets an unaudited 3 BBS Ticks for its unique style and brave mission.

National Restaurant of the Year was Kiln, Soho. They have ‘walk-ins’ for a counter service, like many new restaurants, however, we wish they would put a part of the counter at wheelchair height. We’re waiting to hear what their accessibility is like and we’ll let you know!! Tatler also awarded them best newcomer in their awards and said

‘you’ve got to queue to get a pew here, as is the way in Soho, but do it and your taste buds will be transported from W1 to northern Thailand. ……. the open kitchen here is a treat. A sumptuous, visual and totally delicious treat’.

The Service Award was won by Core by Clare Smyth, Notting Hill. With regard to accessibility they said ‘we can arrange a access and space for wheelchairs user at Core by Clare Smyth. We have an accessible toilet with 3 grab rails and an emergency cord.’ They’ve won two stars as a new entry in the 2019 Michelin Guide and 10/10 in the Good Food Guide but received varying reviews on the food. A lukewarm one from Faye Maschler in the Evening standard. However I’m sure it’s worth a visit although expect to pay c. £100/hd. It’s ‘relaxed fine dining’ after all’.

Core gets an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks.

Gastropub of the Year was The Sportsman, Seasalter, Kent. We actually reviewed them previously, read what we thought here. They refurbished in 2017 to make the pub more inclusive and installed a disabled toilet. They have an unaudited 2.5 BBS Ticks.

So on those results we would say the chosen restaurants are largely inclusive so why not advertise the fact by adding information on accessibility to your websites??! Restaurateurs please add a BBS Gallery.………..


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