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Arts & Culture

Newcastle restaurant wins Taste of the North East award for the second time

The team at Blackfriars Restaurant in Newcastle is celebrating after being announced the winner of the Taste of the North East award for the second time.

The North East England Tourism Awards were organised and delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with the North East Tourism Alliance* and were hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle breakfast show presenter Alfie Joey at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Blackfriars, which also won the award in 2012, is believed to be the oldest purpose-built dining rooms in the UK, having served as the refectory for the ‘Black Friars’ of Newcastle since 1239.  Today it serves a gutsy seasonal and local menu by head chef Chris Wardale. The restaurant has been owned by Andy and Sam Hook since 2001 who have lovingly restored the complex which now includes a 92-seat restaurant, 50-seat banquet Hall, Parlour Bar, Cookery School and a wine/beer/whisky tasting room.  The couple also own casual fine dine restaurant Dobson & Parnell on Newcastle quayside and Hinnies in Whitley Bay which serves Geordie comfort food.

The awards play a key role in celebrating and showcasing the range of quality tourism businesses that visitors to the North East encounter. The tourism sector continues to be the fourth largest in the region, highlighting the importance of the businesses working in the sector to the wider economy.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive at destination management and marketing organisation NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Congratulations to Blackfriars and all of our winners and those who contribute to the success of the North East tourism sector. This year we received a record number of applications and all the categories were tightly contested.

Andy Hook, managing director of Blackfriars (pictured one in from the left) added: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award for the second time – we have invested a great deal in developing the complex at Blackfriars, refurbishing the restaurant and opening the Parlour Bar, Cookery School, Banquet and Tasting Room which opens us up to new markets.  The friars were big on hospitality and we are proud custodians of the building which is steeped in history”.

*The North East Tourism Alliance is a collaboration of the region’s tourism bodies who work together on projects that will benefit the tourism industry across the region. The founding members of the alliance are NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Northumberland Tourism, Visit County Durham, and The North East Hotels Association. The North East England Tourism Awards are also supported by South Tyneside Council and North Tyneside Council.

Here’s the full list of Gold winners:

·         Hotel of the Year – Langley Castle Hotel

·         Boutique Guest Accommodation of the Year – Lord Crewe Arms

·         Bed and Breakfast of the Year – Brunswick House and St. Cuthbert’s House

·         Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year – St. Oswald’s Farm

·         Holiday Park/Holiday Village of the Year – Doe Park Caravan Site

·         Small Visitor Attraction of the Year – The Auckland Project – Mining Art Gallery

·         Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – The Alnwick Garden

·         Guided Tour of the Year – Serenity Farne Island Boat Tours

·         Dog Friendly Business of the Year – Lord Crewe Arms

·         Tourism Pub of the Year – Barrasford Arms

·         Taste of England Award – Blackfriars Restaurant

·         Sustainable Tourism Award – Laverock Law Cottages and Shepherds Hut

·         Inclusive Tourism Award – Sage Gateshead

·         Business Tourism Award – Event Durham, Durham University

·         Visitor Information Provider of the Year – Durham Pointers