WITHIN the space of 10 days, the Willow Tree Inn's Graze Restaurant and Bistro snared major industry awards as word of its reputation for quality food continues to spread.
Marking the second anniversary of the opening of Graze just a month ago, the restaurant secured its second consecutive "two schooner" rating in the 2013 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards last Monday night, which was icing on the cake after winning its first Best Steak Venue award during the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) of NSW's Awards of Excellence last week.
Willow Tree Inn, on the New England Highway at Willow Tree, is owned by Hawkesbury Valley businessman Charles Hanna, the executive chairman of diversified packaging materials manufacturer, Hannapak, North Richmond, and its head chef is Colin Selwood.
Mr Hanna said there were only about a dozen pubs in Australia which had received two "two schooner" awards, which were the equivalent to a "two hat" restaurant rating.
"The 'two schooner' award confirms our restaurant maintained a rating for quality of food and service of 17 out of 20," he said."
"The judges scored across a number of areas including the quality of the food and the way it is presented, the content of the menu and the wine list, the price, the wait staff, and the overall atmosphere of Graze," he said.
Mr Hanna was even more excited by winning the AHA award as Graze had been in the running against about 10 other finalists which included Sydney landmarks Ivy, Establishment and The Oaks at Neutral Bay.
AHA of NSW chief executive officer Paul Nicolaou said the standout feature of Graze was the focus on the use of quality local produce and the knowledge of what diners wanted.
"This is a well-loved venue producing sensational food which has been put through a great refurbishment ? it has become an iconic hotel in the area which is gaining rave reviews not only from local people but others from across the State," Mr Nicolaou said.
The dry-aged steak - all Colly Creek Angus produced by Mr Hanna on his nearby Willow Tree property - has been the key to winning the awards, Mr Hanna said.
"We've also now added Colly Creek Suffock lamb to the menu which we believe we'll be able to supply year round."