FERMANAGH was the cream of the crop in Ulster at the Irish Restaurant Awards last week.
Enniskillen’s Jolly Sandwich Bar brought home the Best Café in Ulster accolade, while 28 Darling Street secured Ulster’s Best Emerging Irish Cuisine award.
Celebrity Chef, Neven Maguire was also celebrating success on the night - his MacNean House and Restaurant was awarded the Best Cookery School, title.
28 Darling Street opened just four months ago.
The restaurant is owned by husband and wife team, Glen Wheeler and Zara McHugh. 
Mr. Wheeler said he and his wife were over the moon, paying tribute also, to the other local winners.
“We are completely shocked and surprised. We are really just blown away that we won. It was the biggest attendance ever at the awards. We have had so much support from people in Fermanagh and further afield and we are so thankful for that,” he said. 
Glen is head chef at the restaurant while Zara looks after the front of house. 
They are well used to the Irish Restaurant Awards having both worked with Neven Maguire at MacNean House and Restaurant for a long number of years.
“It was fantastic to see Neven win the best Cookery School in Ireland this year,”said Mr. Wheeler, “It was great to see the Jolly Sandwich win too. They have been phenomenally supportive of us since we opened and we are delighted for them and it is great to see Darling Street on the map when it comes to food.”
Hazel Johnston, proprietor of the Jolly Sandwich, paid tribute to her staff: “I am delighted to be recognised with such a prestigious award. I would like to thank all the staff for their hard work and dedication over the last number of years. Thanks also to our customers, both local and far and wide, whose support gives us the incentive to keep striving for higher and higher standards.”
The Irish Restaurant Awards was celebrating its most successful ceremony to-date, taking place in the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road, where the premier restaurant and hospitality establishments in Ireland for 2018 were named. 
Over 1,000 restaurateurs and staff attended the sold out, black tie event which celebrated the achievements and perseverance within the industry over the last 12 months.
Now in its tenth year, the Awards have continued the trend of growing in both attendee numbers and industry esteem.
Over 90,000 online nominations were received for Irish restaurants and hospitality businesses this year. Awards were received from 21 categories.
On the night, Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland spoke about the resilience of the industry saying: “As an industry, the restaurateurs, pub-owners and entrepreneurs of Ireland, continue to defy the odds. You strive to create jobs, expand upon Ireland’s understanding of food standards and world cuisine, all while maintaining exemplary customer service. Your support of Irish produce has never been greater and for this you should be wholeheartedly applauded.”