GQ reveal the winners of their 2020 Food and Drink rewards

The GQ 2020 Food and Drink Award winners: Three-Michelin star hotspot sketch is named best restaurant while a humble roadside diner scoops the innovation prize

  • Three Michelin starred sketch, in London won the award for best restaurant
  • US-style Mollie’s Motel & Diner in Oxfordshire won the innovation award   
  • The Mariners in Cornwall was awarded the best pub gong, and The Standard, London got the prize for best breakthrough

A humble roadside diner in Oxfordshire and a three-Michelin star celeb hotspot are among the winners of this year’s annual GQ Food & Drink Awards.  

Tom Brown, the head chef at trendy seafood restaurant Cornerstone in Hackney, east London and The Standard, London a new ultramodern hotel described as one of the ‘coolest places in the capital’ in a former brutalist council office opposite St Pancras also picked up awards, which are said to be recognised as the most prestigious in the food world. 

Outside of London, The Mariners in Rock, Cornwall was awarded the best pub gong, with judges praising its ‘second to none’ food, drink and atmosphere. While the best hotel went to the The Newt in Somerset for ‘exceeding expectations at every turn’.  

The judging panel consisted of highly acclaimed chefs, esteemed writers and  seasoned eaters including: GQ’s Editor-in-Chief Dylan Jones, Alexei Rosin, Sunaina Sethi, Ben Elloit, Mia Johansson, Tom Kitchin, Melissa Hemsley, Olivery Peyton and Tara Bernerd.

BEST RESTAURANT

The Lecture Room & Library at sketch, London

BEST RESTAURANT: The Lecture Room & Library at sketch, London was praised for being ‘unapologetically OTT

Trendy Mayfair diner sketch, which often sees the likes of Elton John, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Taylor Swift and Kate Moss and visit wowed the judges.

sketch has three Michelin stars and offers a tasting menu, as well as a la carte options and an afternoon tea menu.

Set over two floors of a converted 18th century building in Conduit Street, Mayfair, it’s a favourite with visiting A listers.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

‘Since bursting onto the scene 17 years ago, Sketch – under the daring direction of Algerian emigre Mourad Mazouz – has broken the mould of starched and stale fine dining, creating an unapologetically OTT restaurant without ever underplaying the pedigree of the kitchen.’ 

BEST CHEF

Tom Brown at Cornerstone, London

Chef Tom Brown, who runs the Cornerstone in east London won the award for best chef thanks to his ‘innovative talent’

 Described by host Phillip Schofield as the ‘Heston Blumenthal of the fish world’ Tom Brown has made a name for himself in the culinary wold in recent years.

Tom started the seafood restaurant ‘Cornerstone’ in 2018, which is ‘inspired by the spirit of sharing plates’ and named after his favourite Arctic Monkey’s song of the same name.

Since it’s opening, Cornerstone has picked up three rosettes by the AA Awards, placed at number three on National Restaurant’s Top 100 Awards and was the Observer Food Monthly Awards’ Best Newcomer in 2018.

Brown was named Breakthrough Chef of the Year by the Food & Travel Reader Awards last year and is a regular on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID 

Judge Melissa Hemlsey congratulated Brown’s ‘innovative talent’ and ability to create ‘consistently exceptional dishes.’

BEST INTERIOR

Heckfield Place, Hampshire

Dubbed the new Soho Farmhouse, Heckfield Place has become the place to be for A-listers in recent years, with Liv Tyler and Cara and Poppy Delevingne among its fans.  

The Georgian mansion, which is situated in 400 acres of countryside, has been lovingly transformed into a boutique hotel over the course of six years, with elegant interiors throughout.

 It’s no wonder that Heckfield Place has become so popular with stars, boasting its own private cinema, along with two restaurants run by foodie favourite Skye Gyngell.

Guests who love to keep fit also have plenty to keep them occupied, with the hotel featuring its own Bodyism fitness studio, where a range of classes including yoga and Pilates are on offer. 

BEST INTERIOR: Heckfield Place, Hampshire. Guests said they were ‘truly looked after’ from ‘start to finish’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘From start to finish, you feel truly looked after.’

BEST BREAKTHROUGH

BEST BREAKTHROUGH: The Standard, London. The ex-Camden Town Hall Annex on Euston Road has been transformed into a swanky new hotel called  The Standard, London. The telephone box-style lift, pictured, zooms straight to a 10th-floor restaurant

The Standard, London

New life came to London last year when hoteliers breathed  life into a former brutalist council office in London and which became the capital’s grooviest place to spend the night.

The ex-Camden Town Hall Annex on Euston Road, once famous for being a gloomy eyesore, opened last year an Instagram selfie-baiting Austin Powers-style hotel in July called The Standard, London.

There’s a lift on the outside that looks like a red telephone box, terraced suites with outdoor bathtubs overlooking St Pancras International station opposite – and bedrooms without any windows at all.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘It’s rock’n’roll. Anything could happen.’

BELVEDERE BEST BAR

Connaught Bar, London

Housed in the uber-swanky Connaught Hotel in London’s Mayfair district, The Connaught Bar is famed for its martini trolley, and the the hotel watering hole consistently ranks amid the best bars in the world. 

Cocktails cost between £20 and £24. Their signature Connaught martini is a  classic aperitif, served with a unique twist, tailored to each customers individual taste with handmade bitters, made with Tanqueray No.10 Gin, blend of dry vermouths, selection of bitters.

BELVEDERE BEST BAR went to the  Connaught Bar in London. Judges said ‘The combination of on-point mixology and old-school elegance is all part of the quintessential Connaught Bar experience.’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘The combination of on-point mixology and old-school elegance is all part of the quintessential Connaught Bar experience.’

BEST FRONT OF HOUSE

Jaunito Ascencio at Chiltern Firehouse, London

 Guest experience manager Juanito Ascencio, who has a posse of famous followers thanks to his influential role, picked up the gong for Best Front of House.

Among his Instagram followers are Poppy Delevingne, Meghan Markle’s friend Misha Nonoo as well as society sweetheart Molly Whitehall and Princess Beatrice’s husband Edo Mapelli Mozzi.

Dubbed the world’s hottest celebrity hangout, David Beckham, Rita Ora, and  Nigella Lawson are amid the A-listers regualrly spotted at the haunt.

BEST FRONT OF HOUSE: Jaunito Ascencio at Chiltern Firehouse, London. Judges said ‘nothing was too much trouble,’ and he provided ‘the ultimate level of hospitality’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘Nothing was too much trouble. He provided the ultimate level of hospitality and is synonymous with the Chiltern Firehouse experience.’

VEUVE CLICQUOT INNOVATOR

Mollie’s Motel & Diner, Oxfordshire

Designed by Soho House, but with a feel of the classic American diner Mollie’s Motel is situated off a busy stretch of the A420 between Oxford and Swindon.

 It was developed by Nick Jones, who is friends with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and is founder of the Soho House empire that operates trendy hotels, restaurants and clubs everywhere from London’s Soho to Berlin, Mumbai, New York and Chicago, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

 All the rooms are kitted out with king-size beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, high-pressure rainforest showers and Cowshed products in the bathrooms.

Mollie’s Motel & Diner, Oxfordshire was described as ‘radically redefining the British roadside experience.’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘Radically redefining the British roadside experience.’

BEST RESTAURATEUR

Adam Handling

Adam is the chef-owner of three London restaurants, two bars and a deli, and has last year assumed the role of chef patron for the new Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea.

He began his career in Scotland at luxury hotel Gleneagles, before becoming the youngest ever head chef at Fairmont in St Andrews.

Multiple award wins later, Handling came to London to open his first restaurant, The Frog E1, in Shoreditch in 2016, which further east in 2018 to a larger location, reopening as The Frog Hoxton.

Adam Handling, pictured, was praised for his ‘diverse portfolio shows his enthusiasm for the industry’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

Handling’s ‘diverse portfolio shows his enthusiasm for the industry.’

BEST HOTEL 

The Newt in Somerset, Somerset

The Newt in Somerset was dubbed the most ambitious hotel opening in decades — as well as one of the most eagerly anticipated when it opened last year.

South African media tycoon Koos Bekker and his former magazine editor wife Karen Roos bought Hadspen House in Somerset in 2013. It was to be their English country seat, but now — some £50 million later — it’s a 23-room hotel in 800 lush, rolling acres. 

There’s a new, grand garden (460 British apple trees of 267 varieties); cyder press; farm shop; bakery; mushroom house; cafe; bathing ponds; House and Garden store; ornamental kitchen gardens; wild flower meadows; spa; gym; ice cream parlour and enough staff to make the whole enterprise feel like a self-contained village.

The Best Hotel went to the The Newt in Somerset which was praised for having ‘all the hallmarks of the classic country hotel’

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘The Newt in Somerset might bear all the hallmarks of a classic country hotel, but it exceeds expectations at every turn.’

BEST PUB

The Mariners, Cornwall

Often topping lists of best gastropubs in the country, the pub is run by TV chef  Paul Ainsworth.

 The 130-cover local, which looks over Cornwall’s Camel Estuary is open all day, offering cream teas as well as local Cornish and British produce.

The A la carte menu offers the likes of Goan curry, fish and chip as well as Slow-cooked Tamworth pork belly. 

The Mariners is Cornwall picked up the prize for best pub. The judges said it was everything a great British pub should be

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘The Mariners is everything a great British pub should be. The food, drinks, service and atmosphere are all second to none.’

BEST OVERALL EXPERIENCE

The Hut, Isle of Wight

The Hut at Colwell Bay is a cool place to tuck into local fish, sip wine, take in the sea air and maybe spot one of the many celebrities who go there, including singer Michael Bublé.

The Hut, Isle of Wight was called the best overall experience. Judges said it reminds them of how sweet a summer day can be

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘The Hut reminds us – perhaps when we need it most – just how sweet a British summer’s day can be.’

BEST SOMMELIER

Sara Rossi at Trinity, London

Trinity opened in Clapham in October 2015 and is loved by locals for its selection of food and wine.

It has an alfresco dining area that accommodates 16 guests and a dining room seating area for 50 guests with a clear view into an open plan kitchen with banquette seating surrounded by the soft hues of jade green and dusty heather pink.

Sara says her favourite  dish  at  the restaurant is  beef tartare with pickled mushroom, smoked bone marrow and Oscietra caviar, with smoky and earthy flavours. Paired with a Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine 2014. 

Speaking last year she said: ‘It’s 100 per cent  Melon de Bourgogne, and the salinity and bready yeastiness goes well with the soy sauce in the dish’.

Sara Rosi was named the best sommelier in the awards. She was lauded for her ability to strike a balance between intrigue and value

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘Rossi’s ability to strike a balance between intrigue and value. Her knowledge of wine is truly next level.’

SUSTAINABILITY AWARD

Spring, London

Nestled in the wing of Somerset House, Spring often appears in lists of the capital’s best restaurants. 

It’s been frequented by the likes of Kate Middleton, and has been lauded in recent years for its commitment to sustainability. 

 In particular, their‘scratch menu’ is made up of dishes that are made from overlooked ingredients and food that would otherwise be thrown away.

The Spring in London was called ‘ingenious’ for it’s innovative menu and sustainability

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘Gyngell’s ingenious ‘Scratch’ menu takes unloved kitchen scraps and transforms them into delightful dishes in their own right, proving that eating sustainably needn’t mean scrimping or fun.’

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT

Raymond Blanc

French-born Raymond Blanc has become a popular face on British TV in recent years.

He is perhaps best known as  the chef patron at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, a hotel-restaurant in Great Milton, which has two Michelin stars.

He’s also trained huge stars  of the culinary world including  Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White and Paul Liebrandt.

Raymond Blanc won the award for his lifetime achievement to cooking and British hospitality. The Frenchman was praised for bring his intense passion and joie de vivre to cooking

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID  

‘A long-deserving recipient of GQ’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Blanc – in his modest manner – is quick to celebrate the work of his team and support of his family as instrumental to his success. But Blanc is indefatigable, intensely passionate and his joie de vivre shines through every element of his operation.’

Dylan Jones, Editor of British GQ, commented: ‘We are very proud to be championing the best of the British hospitality business through the GQ Food & Drink Awards presented by Veuve Clicquot, now in its 6th year. 

‘Congratulations must go to all of our shortlisted candidates as well as our winners in a year of such change and uncertainty. Thank you to our esteemed panel of expert judges, together with the discerning readers of GQ whose votes highlight our exciting British culinary scene.’

Alexei Rosin, Managing Director of Moët Hennessy UK Ltd. added: ‘Veuve Clicquot is proud to be entering its sixth year as the official partner of the GQ Food & Drink Awards. The hospitality industry makes London and the UK the cultural hub that it is celebrated for, and this year more than ever we are honoured to support the people behind our bars, restaurants and hotels. Huge congratulations to all of our worthy winners and shortlisted candidates and we look forward to raising a glass with you all soon!’  

  • Full coverage of the 6th annual GQ Food & Drink Awards will be in the November issue of GQ, on newsstands and available for digital download from Friday 2 October

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