Restaurant of the Year: Great Food Club Awards 2023/24
Chosen by our judges:
The Monk, Quorn, Leicestershire
The top public vote-winners:
The winner is The Monk – a fun and buzzing restaurant set in a 16th-century thatched cottage.
The Monk stands out as the Restaurant of the Year for 2023/4. From the outset, you’re met with excellent hospitality, and the quirky interior design under the ancient building’s low ceiling adds a layer of uniqueness to this historic venue.
Moving onto the food, the restaurant offers well-priced menus without skimping on quality. Our meal was excellent from start to finish: a summer peach and almond salad set the tone, monkfish with rustic chips delighted the palate, and a blueberry and mint tart rounded off the experience nicely.
Owner Simon Grayson, who manages the restaurant with his wife Carla, is a wine authority. He’s so knowledgeable that he has even prepared wine menus for establishments run by his friend, renowned chef Marco Pierre White. Rest assured, the drink options here are carefully selected.
The menu offers a broad range of options. It keeps evolving, featuring dishes such as dry-aged beef fillet to beetroot and blue cheese risotto.
If you find yourself in or near Quorn, securing a table at The Monk should be high on your list. It offers an exceptional and memorable all-round dining experience.
The other finalists
The Kedleston, Quarndon, Derby
The Kedleston is a Georgian country house near Derby, a past winner of Channel 4’s Four in a Bed. Dining there during the judging process provided a serene Tuesday retreat. Run by sisters Sally and Helen, the venue exudes quality and hospitality. We were welcomed into the bright, contemporary garden room, adorned with slate-tiled flooring, wooden furniture, mirrors, and foliage. Although the menu didn’t push culinary boundaries, it was reliably good and generously portioned. The standout dish was the green gazpacho, its taste heightened by prosciutto. The venue’s lovely grounds added a layer of enchantment to an evening that blended the old and the new.
Lake Isle, Uppingham, Rutland
Dining at Lake Isle in Uppingham was a showcase of culinary craftsmanship. The Cromer crab mousse was a revelation, and the sesame miso aubergine with halloumi fritters didn’t disappoint. The chocolate, cherry and pecan praline delice ended the meal on a decadent note. With a well-curated wine list and a relaxed atmosphere, the restaurant proves why it holds two AA Rosettes. A dining experience that aligns with the “what grows together, goes together” ethos, Lake Isle is truly a sanctuary for food and wine lovers.
Ember, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Our dining experience at Ember was wonderful. This award-winning spot was buzzing even on a weekday, confirming its status as a destination restaurant. The smoked chicken taco and hay-smoked carrots were sublime, showcasing unique BBQ flavours. Perfect for groups, the atmosphere was electric. The burnt Basque cheesecake was the cherry on top of an unforgettable meal. Ember is a must-visit for anyone seeking a culinary adventure.