Local restaurant The Zin House has been awarded one hat in the 2016 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
Owner and head chef Kim Currie said the aim of The Zin House had never been about receiving a hat.
“The whole intent of establishing Zin House was to provide a great, comfortable, country restaurant where people could have simple food, cooked from scratch with local ingredients,” Ms Currie said.
“That was our purpose, that’s what we set out to deliver.
“But if in the process, we achieved a hat like we have now, that’s a bonus for us.”
Ms Currie said with the standards of the food, the service, and the environment of the restaurant however, she knew the Zin House would be in the running.
“Because we’re set menu, set price, and quite an atypical restaurant, there were questions around whether that would rule us out as well,” she said.
The Zin House focuses on hospitality and celebrating the local region, and local produce and Ms Currie said that’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t feel the need to “tizzy up” the food or be technique driven.
“Simplicity has its place and we want the produce to speak for itself,” she said.
Ms Currie said recognition in the Good Food Guide was a great way of knowing that the restaurant is keeping up with Sydney establishments.
“It’s about catering the experience to the diner, and not showing off when we don’t need to,” she said.
“It’s about a combination of the experience, the food, and embracing your surroundings.”
Mudgee is gaining a reputation for a range of high quality restaurants and cafes.
Ms Currie said The Zin House was only one of a number of good venues in the region, and it was great to see recognition slowly coming their way.
“It’s one of the lovely things about the region: We all support each other and we all share information, and we just try to push the region as a whole,” she said.
Ms Currie believes the movement towards real food and sustainable produce had a part to play in the rankings this year.
“The affection with which people have embraced Mudgee and what we do at Zin House I think played a part as well,” she said.
“What we do here is authentic, our whole premise here has been authenticity, generosity, and quality and finding a balance between the three.”
The Good Food Guide employs 40 food critics to go out to over 500 restaurants and review their menus, rating them for food, service, ambience and the “wow factor”.
The critics awards 104 hats awarded to restaurants across the state in the 2016 guide.