IT HAS been voted the top French restaurant in the State, but it isn't in Sydney where there are many; it is right here on our doorstep at Byron Bay.
Petit Snail on Carlyle St, co-owned by Igor Persan and his wife Chauby, was voted number-one by diners in the biennial Lifestyle Food Channel's I Love Food awards.
Mr Persan, however, said the recipe for success is simple - healthy traditional French dishes, fresh seasonal and locally sourced produce and a great atmosphere created by Chauby.
When the restaurant opened on Bastille Day, July 14, in 2008, Mr Persan said many of his friends thought he was mad.
You don't open a new restaurant in winter at a coastal holiday destination, he said.
But Mr Persan's focus is not tourists; it's the local popula- tion he serves night after night.
"We wanted to put our roots down here and cater for locals," Mr Persan said.
"Getting the award was my customers' response to this endeavour because they are saying 'Yes, we like you'.
"That is why I am so proud of this award; there is no organisation, it's just our customers who vote.
"They come, they sit, they enjoy the atmosphere, they enjoy the food and they enjoy the service."
Mr Persan said traditional restaurants in France would source their produce from "the farm next door", so he tries to do the same.
"It's not so easy all the time, but four years down the track we have a network of friends and suppliers and it is a good feeling to serve food that is grown a couple of miles down the road," he said.
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