Voting open for St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival 2014

St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival 2014 - Credit: Archant

The wait is over, and voting is now open for this year’s St Albans and Harpenden Food and Drink Festival Awards.

So if you know where to find the most delicious cake, tastiest takeaway, mouthwatering meal or the perfect pint, this is your chance to say well done to a local business and cast your vote at

The winners will be decided by public vote, and after last year’s confusion over whether businesses were in the right category, judges will visit the three venues voted top by the public to check that they do exactly what they say they do.

The family-friendly venues will be visited with children, and if the business claims that it uses locally sourced ingredients then the judges will check if that is actually true on the day they go in. Voting is limited to one vote per person, and IP addresses and voting patterns will be checked to avoid any accusations of rigging.

There are 11 categories in total: nine are decided by public vote along with the scrutiny of a judging panel and two are special awards decided by the Food and Drink Festival steering group. The Food and Drink Champion will be selected out of all the award category winners and judged by the sponsors and steering group.

The Kate D’Arcy Award is a special award in memory of Kate D’Arcy that recognises exceptional customer service in any type of business. If you know a fantastic barperson or waiter, a super-helpful shopkeeper or market stall holder why not nominate them for this accolade?

The winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner on Monday, October 6, at St Michael’s Manor. The Dinner will be the last event in the Festival, which starts on Wednesday, September 24, with the legendary CAMRA beer festival. There are two key dates for your diary now: the Harpenden Farmers Market will be on Sunday, September 28, with special Festival events, and the St Albans Food and Drink Festival, with stalls and live demos, will be on Sunday, October 5. In the meantime, here are the shortlists. If any are new to you, this is the perfect opportunity to go and try – you may discover a new favourite!

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Best Family Friendly Venue: Inn on the Park, The Pudding Stop, Bar Meze, The Sitting Room, Dahlia Coffee House (Aylett Nurseries), Zizzi (St Albans);

Best Local Café: The Courtyard Café, The Pudding Stop, Bakehouse St Albans, Barrissimo, Blueberry Café, Inn on the Park, Abbot’s Kitchen;

Best Independent Food/Drink Shop: Tomoko Spirits Boutique, Hedges Farm Shop, Poulters fish stall (St Albans Saturday market), Buongiorno Italia Delicatessen, Beershop, Jay’s Delicatessen, Rollings Wine Company, Flagship Wines;

Best Newcomer: Beershop, The Pudding Stop, Thompson@Darcys, The City Market Company, Baked Nation;

Best Local Restaurant: Chez Mumtaj, Thompsons@Darcys, The Foragers@The Verulam Arms, That Little Place, Singhli, Bar Azita, Bar Meze, Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurants (St Albans and Harpenden);

Best Bar: Chilli Bar and Kitchen, Billy’s Bar and Restaurant, The Snug Bar, Mokoko;

Best Pub: The Mermaid, The Cock Inn, The Verulam Arms, The Hare & Hounds, The Bull, The Lower Red Lion, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, The Holly Bush;

Best Takeaway: Hatch, Halema, H & H Fried Chicken and Kebabs, Godfrey’s, The Pudmobile (The Pudding Stop), The Ridgeway Fish Bar, India Garden;

Best Local Producer: Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery, Hedges Farm Shop, T Roberts and Son, Crumbs ‘n’ All, The 3 Brewers of St Albans, Earthworks.