Restaurant review: Hopgood's of Nelson
Runner-up: KitchenAid Best Regional Restaurant
Cuisine rating: 15/20 (one chef's hat)
Stylish table settings, shabby-chic decor and the buzz of conversation brings anticipation and excitement to this busy urban eatery. Kevin Hopgood and Aaron Ballantyne's food is simple, fresh and unpretentious but with clever touches like the soft-centred, deep-fried egg on a scarlet carpet of beef carpaccio with truffle scented fries, parmesan and a topknot of rocket leaves, or the contrast of sharp cheeses encased in a deep-fried zucchini flower sitting proudly on sweetcorn agnolotti and summer vegetables. And the rich chocolate mousse in a chocolate tube, enhanced by the sharpness of plums and a fresh coconut sorbet, is a winner. Like the food, the wine list is locally focused, and the beers are from local breweries. Suggestions are included for matching each dish with a wine or beer – and with locals in mind there are BYO Mondays.