Armed with a new premises, Chim Choo Ree has picked up its first Cuisine Good Food award.
The Hamilton restaurant won the award for Best Regional Restaurant.
This is its first win in four years of entering the competition, though the restaurant has been a finalist or recommended restaurant each year.
Chef Cameron Farmilo said the quality of food is an important factor in the award.
''I guess just getting good ingredients and treating them well, and getting good seasoning is probably the things I focus on.''
He said the judges commented on the casual atmosphere.
''People are able to have fun while they're eating good food.''
The award was a complete surprise to owners Kim Higgison, Morgan Glass, and Farmilo.
''We were in shock,'' said Higgison. ''It hadn't crossed our minds.''
The trio started Chim Choo Ree five years ago on Victoria St. Recently, the restaurant moved to the old Waikato brewery building at 14 Bridge St.'
'It's good, it's been a big learning curve with the change of size and everything,'' said Farmilo.
The new restaurant seats 62, twice the amount of the old site.
''This is a very different space,'' said Farmilo.
The brewery was completely renovated before the restaurant moved in.
''We got to make this from scratch,'' said Higgison. ''[But] it still feels the same because it's all the same staff and the same customers.''
Farmilo said the awkward access from Bridge St hasn't deterred loyal customers.
''We had a lot of people mention the parking thing when we moved, but it's probably better than it was in town anyway.''
''We feel like Hamilton is very supportive of what we're doing,'' said Higgison.
- Waikato Times