A PENICUIK restaurant has been named the home of the best burger in Scotland after beating competition from both Edinburgh and Glasgow to take the crown.
Local eatery Stewarts took the top prize at the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards in Glasgow – bettering Edinburgh favourites including Foundry 39 and Burgers and Beers Grillhouse.
Judges were impressed by the restaurant’s “Stewarts burger”, combining an eight-ounce handmade beef patty – sprinkled with head chef Andy McLeish’s secret ingredients – with fresh, locally grown tomatoes and baby gem lettuce and homemade relish.
The restaurant faced competition from nine other finalists from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dalkeith, St Andrews and Irvine, but emerged victorious a year after claiming second prize in the same category.
Owner Chris Stewart revealed he was delighted with the award and said he believed the burger’s success was down to its locally bought ingredients.
“I think what sets us apart is the fact we serve fresh, locally sourced produce as opposed to fast food,” he said
“We use a butcher down in Lauder, Shaw’s, which isn’t the most local, but we believe it’s the best in the area.
“When we actually get it in the kitchen, we double mince the meat and then Andy works wonders, he and his kitchen staff are fantastic, they take so much care and so much pride in everything they do, so I’m really pleased for them.”
Chris, originally from Bilston, took over the restaurant in November 2015, alongside partner Lorna, after spending much of his career in hospitality working with nightclubs.
The awards feature a public vote to decide the ten finalists before a “mystery diner” visited all ten restaurants to sample each offering.
However, with the winners not revealed until Monday’s ceremony, the team had a nervous wait to find out if the restaurant had been successful.
“We have a video of the moment we found out the winner and you can tell from our reaction how much it meant to us,” Chris said.
“I think the fact we are based in Penicuik, because it is such a small town, and we were going up against places in Edinburgh and Glasgow that have much bigger footfall just made it much more of an achievement.
“It’s great for me and Lorna too, we really threw everything at this when we started Stewarts’ in 2015, we knew how much of a risk it was opening in Penicuik and things like this just make it worthwhile.”
Co-Owner Lorna thanked customers who voted for the restaurant and praised the “outstanding” work of the kitchen team.
She added: “The award not only reflects our outstanding chefs but reflects the team as a whole.”
“We have a great team here at Stewarts’ and know we offer top-quality food, with customers made to feel extra special.
“We would like to thank the judges again for picking us as winners, and everyone else who kindly voted for us.”
Head chef Andy said: “I am honoured that our burger has won this prestigious award.”
“It is great to be recognised for something you have put hard work and dedication into.”