A DROMORE restaurant has earned the highest score ever awarded in the 20 years of Taste of Ulster good food guide inspections.
Boyle's of Dromore scored a fantastic 99%, inspectors praising the owners and their team for an "exceptionally high level of commitment to local sourcing" and their "passion and enthusiasm for good, local food".
After their recent visit they hailed the restaurant, housed in an historic, 220 year-old building in Castle Street, as "a sophisticated, modern, Irish fusion restaurant" whose Taste of Ulster Award was the most recent acknowledgement of its exceptionally high level of commitment to local sourcing and professional customer service.
Owners Darwin Martin and Raymond Murray are delighted with the achievement. In a joint statement front-of-house manger Darwin and head-chef Raymond, said, "It's recognition of everything we've worked for over the years and it's all the better because it recognises not just our food, but our staff, who, after all, are the first point of contact for our customers."
Operated by FoodNI, Taste of Ulster is an independently assessed guide to good, local food; it focuses on fresh, local and seasonal produce and Boyle's readily acknowledge the key role of the local farmers and growers who supply them with quality ingredients.
The Taste of Ulster judges praised all the staff for their knowledge of the food and where it came from, noting too their positive attitude in delivering friendly service and even applauding the way their telephone booking was handled.
Taste of Ulster Chief Executive Michele Shirlow described Darwin and Raymond as living examples of why Northern Ireland was proud to embrace and promote local food.
"Darwin Martin and Raymond Murray are a winning team," she said, "and this is an outstanding achievement; they are doing a great job of upholding the reputation that Taste of Ulster membership is building.
"It is hoped that in the years that follow more and more establishments will join up and strive to meet the high standards set by Darwin, Raymond and their team.
"Taste of Ulster cannot thank everyone involved in the running of Boyles enough; it is an honour to work with them and long may it continue."
One regular customer, Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea, was among the first to pay tribute to the restaurant and its award-winning chef.
"This is an amazing achievement and a well-deserved victory," he said. "I eat in Boyle's Restaurant as often as I can and every time I go I'm more and more impressed.
"They not only provide truly world-class food but they also have the friendliest staff I've ever come across; the atmosphere is fantastic.
"Their award-winning head chef, Raymond Murray, has experienced working in some of the top restaurants in Northern Ireland and his unique style with Northern Ireland cuisine is by far the best I've ever tasted."
Darwin and Raymond added, "Come and see for yourselves, we're proud of what we've achieved here in just a few years and would love to share it with you."