Taste Our Best Food and Drink Triumphs for Helensburgh Restaurants
Two Helensburgh restaurants have been served a double helping of success with VisitScotland Taste Our Best awards.
Staff had to demonstrate knowledge of the Scottish produce on their menu and supplier invoices were spot checked as part of a rigorous assessment by the national tourism agency. Owners Cara and Milan Nikolic of Kilcreggan said they were delighted with the official rating.
Milan Nikolic said: "It's all about taking fantastic Scottish produce, preparing it with care and delivering it with passion. We use the best Scottish seafood and meat in our restaurants and use a number of local suppliers including butchers, bakers, farmers and even a chocolatier."
The accreditation sees La Barca and Riverbank join the illustrious company locally of Knockderry House Hotel and Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond as well as Ardardan Tearoom in Cardross which are all Taste Our Best accredited.
La Barca's menu features Scottish ingredients such as Isle of Mull king scallops and Stornoway black pudding, while Riverbank's classics include North Atlantic haddock and prime beef and steak from Dumfries and Galloway, sourced from a local butcher.
Cara Nikolic added: "The Taste our Best award is a quality assurance scheme and the assessor was looking for high standards, not just in produce, but everything from service and food presentation to restaurant cleanliness. The award report confirmed that we had authentic, high quality produce, sourced carefully and treated with respect. We're delighted that we made this very high grade."
The assessor found that the Riverbank restaurant used 57 percent of Scottish produce on its menu while La Barca used 66 percent. The Riverbank, which in addition is a pizzeria, also sources ingredients from Italy, while La Barca Tapas sources speciality produce from Spain.
The restaurants' Scottish suppliers include Walkers Family Butchers of Kilcreggan, Muirhead Dairy of Alexandria, McCune Prime Cut Fine Foods, Townhead Farm, Nature’s Harvest, The Gingerbread Man and CocoaMo Artisan Chocolate, all of Helensburgh; plus Corrigans Fishmonger, Glasgow.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, added:
“I’d like to congratulate Cara, Milan and their dedicated team on their double Taste Our Best success. La Barca Spanish Tapas & Wine Bar and Riverbank Bar & Restaurant are two great examples of local tourism businesses that are committed to promoting regional produce. Food is an integral part of the tourism experience, while sampling traditional dishes and local produce is among the top activities undertaken by visitors. Taste Our Best aims to form stronger links between the places people visit and the food and drink experiences on offer, helping give visitors a greater choice”.
“As we continue to celebrate the Year of Food and Drink 2015, there is an increased desire by visitors for authentic experiences and products unique to Scotland or a particular area. The growing popularity of Taste Our Best, which now has almost 800 accredited businesses, shows that there is clearly an appetite in the tourism industry to respond to this trend and where possible use local produce. "Taste our Best aims to ensure visitors eating in restaurants, bistros, cafes, and other venues displaying the Taste our Best Award will eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and fresh seasonal produce.
The award is given to businesses which can demonstrate that at least 40 per cent of the produce highlighted on its menu is from a quality Scottish origin.
La Barca has been shortlisted for a VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Award for Best Restaurant Experience, and an Innovation Award for La Barca, Riverbank and soon to open Cattle & Creel in Helensburgh.
The 2015 Central South West regional finals take place in Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel on 4 November.
La Barca Tapas also won Scotland's Best Mediterranean Restaurant 2014 and 2015 in the Scottish Entertainment Awards.