Call me a cynic, but I don’t always believe an award means something is great.
In my opinion there have been some terrible award winners in recent years – Mrs Brown’s Boys winning best comedy at the 2017 National TV Awards for a start.
With that in mind my partner Natalie and I headed to the Tollemache Arms in Harrington - recent winner of Charles Wells pub of the year - more in hope than expectation.
But, to put it bluntly, it is fully deserving of the accolade.
We’d booked beforehand and when we arrived it looked a good decision.
It may have been a Saturday night but for a village consisting of just a couple of hundred people, the pub was bustling.
With Warner Edwards’ gin distillery just a few hundred yards down the road it would have been rude not to have had one.
Natalie had the rhubarb gin with ginger ale and I had the sloe gin with bitter lemon. Both, as expected, were lovely.
After witnessing some huge portions pass our table, which was conveniently close to a roaring fire, we decided to share a starter.
There are some great options and we went for the mac and cheese fritters with a chilli jam and fried herbs.
I could have eaten them all night, they were that good.
The pub prides itself on a variety of burgers and pizzas, as well as classics such as fish and chips.
Natalie decided on a burger and had a tough time deciding from the seven options, one of which was a ‘local hero’ burger.
The idea – where each month the pub asks someone to create a burger and £1 from each sale is donated to charity – is a really nice touch.
This month’s offering was a Spanish-inspired burger, created by their former chef.
Had Natalie liked goats cheese she probably would have chosen it, but instead opted for ‘The Tolly’ – a glorified bacon cheeseburger.
The patty is made from beef chuck, short rib and bone marrow and it was huge.
From the empty plate, it was obvious there were few complaints.
For me if a restaurant sells pizza they have to be very good, or people will just order from a takeaway.
After having The Tolly’s pizza, I won’t be ordering from Domino’s again any time soon.
I went for ‘The Absolute Pig’, an absolute mound of different kinds of pork with roquito peppers.
The base was so thin you could probably create shadow puppets through it if it was held up to the light, and the crust was superb.
Our attentive waitress Georgia cleared our plates and tried to persuade us to have a dessert, not that we needed much persuasion.
We shared a sticky toffee pudding which came with salted caramel ice cream and was the perfect ending to a meal.
At £50 bang on including drinks it was more than reasonable for a Saturday night treat.
The next time The Tolly wins an award – and I’m certain it will – I won’t be so cynical.