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Garden Centre café scoops reader award

A café-restaurant in a garden centre in Cumbria has been named the Regional Winner for the North West in the Good Food Guide Local Restaurant of the Year Awards.

Mrs Miller’s in Culgaith has been nominated by its customers to be the top local choice in the North West. Mrs Miller’s, perched above Hazel Dene Garden Centre, near Penrith in Cumbria, is described by the Good Food Guide (GFG), which is published by Waitrose, as “a unique and refreshing place, a garden-centre café that focuses on local ingredients and knows how to create feel-good flavours.”

It was named after a school-dinner lady who ran the kitchen when it was a simple café but it’s now a relaxed cafe-style restaurant, with head chef James Cowin and his team serving up modern twists on British food.

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One happy customer, who nominated the restaurant, said it has “Consistently superb food with regularly changing specials, all locally sourced” and “certainly worth a detour.” It’s a family affair with James’ father and brother running the garden centre, with the café making good use of the centre’s freshly grown herbs and vegetables.

Elizabeth Carter, Waitrose Good Food Guide editor, says: “The simple formula of a kitchen that cooks fresh to order is the very principle on which our guide was founded. We have always maintained that the best restaurants offer creative, memorable food based on quality, seasonal and local produce.

“In other words no pretensions or gimmicks, just first-class food cooked from ingredients deeply rooted in the region. A commitment to their community and a strong relationship with local suppliers is what makes a restaurant truly local.”

Speaking about Mrs Miller’s, Carter continues, “What a unique and refreshing place, a garden-centre café that focuses on local ingredients and knows how to create feel-good flavours. As a recipe for success it’s dead simple, but so hard to get as right as this. Our readers had no hesitation in naming this a worthy winner.”

James Cowin, head chef at Mrs Miller’s said, “To win this award means so much to us all here at Mrs Miller’s. We are a small hard working team and to win this accolade is a massive thank you for all the hard work we have put in over the years. It makes it even more special to know that our customers are the ones who helped nominate us for this great achievement.”

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