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Scotland's Restaurant of the Year named at annual AA Hospitality Awards

Scotland's Restaurant of the Year has been named at the twenty-second annual AA Hospitality Awards.

Published: September 30, 2019

The Sugar Boat, which is located in the heart of Helensburgh, was chosen for its focus on seasonal dishes and the expert handiwork of locally born head chef, Scott Smith.

Opened in May 2017, the restaurant, which features a café, bar, bistro and wine shop and is named after the sugar cargo boat, the MV Captayannis, is the brainchild of renowned restaurateur Will Smith, who opened the new venture after leaving London and ending his successful partnership with Anthony Demetre - which saw them open many popular ventures including Arbutus, Wild Honey and Les Deux Salons.

Smith, who returns to the area after working as the restaurant manager of The Georgian Room in the early 90s, said: “This award is an incredible achievement by the whole team and is testament to the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into opening and building the restaurant.

“Thrilled, elated, blown away, astounded and so very proud to be recognised at a national level. Thank you to everyone who has helped us on our journey.

"I am extremely proud of my team who have been integral to making this happen."

Smith added that he was surprised to have beaten some big names from across the central belt and the Highlands, he said: "There is such a wealth of talent in this category that any number of us could have won and when I look back at past winners, we are in esteemed company."

So what can people expect for Scotland's Restaurant of the Year?

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Smith stated: "A fantastic dining experience. Consistently cracking cooking from the kitchen; inventive and creative with bold flavours. Warm, welcoming and friendly service.

"A concise wine list with 20 offerings by the glass or carafe and the option to take away up to 40 wines from our Wine Shop. Cocktails are the thing in the bar at the weekend (or any night for that matter) or try one of our 25 Scottish gins."

An AA Inspector said of Sugar Boat: “On a square in the heart of town, with tables out front and back, Sugar Boat is done out in natural colours of earth and sea, with a marble-topped bar and viewable kitchen.

“The hearty modern bistro cooking features big flavours and an essentially simple approach.”

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The awards also saw Gleneagles named as Hotel of the Year and the Meikleour Arms in Blairgowrie named Pub of the Year.

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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