Newcomer is named best restaurant in the country
A HOTEL restaurant in South Queensferry has seen off rivals with Michelin stars to be officially named Scotland's best.
The Grill at Dakota beat competitors such as Number One at the Balmoral Hotel, Glasgow's plush Chardon d'Or and the famous Three Chimneys on Skye to take the top prize.
The distinctive black panelled hotel, just off the A90 near the Forth Road Bridge, also won Scotland's Best Hotel Restaurant category, just ten months after it opened.
Top chefs, restaurateurs and food lovers gathered for the first Scottish Restaurant Awards ceremony at the EICC on Monday evening.
The Grill is a specialist seafood restaurant, and chef partner Roy Brett put its success down to locally-sourced produce and an "honest approach" to food.
He said: "You don't go to these events expecting to win, you go to enjoy yourself.
"So, to win one award was amazing but to go on to win the overall Restaurant of the Year award is unbelievable.
"We only use seasonal produce and work closely to marine conservation limits, so our success is probably down to the fact that we're a seafood specialist with local produce on our shore."
He said the restaurant built its menu around what was available that day and always attempted to keep its prices reasonable.
"The key is doing it in a responsible way so we pay a premium for things like line-caught mackerel, rather than netted, or hand-dived scallops rather than those that have been dredged up along with everything else on the seabed.
"What's important to us is that we don't pass that cost on to the customer."
The Dakota chain – which also has hotels off the A8/M8 in Lanarkshire and in Nottingham – is owned by entrepreneur Ken McCulloch and motor racing superstar David Coulthard.
After the hotel opened in March last year, the pair poached Mr Brett from celebrity chef Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall to be chef partner for all three hotel restaurants.
Mr Brett added: "Working with Rick for five years was great, and he did his best to knock all of the 'chefiness' out of me, and made me focus on the food and the restaurant experience.
"When I came up here I kept that in mind but I've tried to do it in my own way, so to be recognised in this way is fantastic."
Malcolm Duck, chairman of the Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association, said: "I think it's a great thing that we can pull in nationally recognised chefs like Roy Brett to this area.
"He's a really nice guy and a great cook and I'd like to congratulate him on the award."
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Restaurant of the year The Grill at Dakota, Forth Road Bridge
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