A TEESSIDE restaurant has proved that non-meateaters can enjoy top class cuisine by scooping a prestigious accolade by the Vegetarian Society.

The Waiting Room in Eaglescliffe near Stockton was jointly named this year’s Best Independent Restaurant in the UK and was officially presented with its award on Thursday.

Mystery diners put the bistro at the top of its list in a secret visit in September after it was nominated to a shortlist by happy customers.

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The eaterie, situated near Eaglescliffe railway station was set up 24 years ago and was chosen as a winner for this year's award ahead of scores of other high profile restaurants, especially in the South of England.

Owner Luke Harding said: "Inclusion in the Observer's top 40 of all restaurants this year was particularly special as we do see ourselves as having a good little restaurant first and foremost creating dishes which everybody will enjoy.

"The fact that The Vegetarian Society has now bestowed their highest acclaim upon us for our very honest approach to creating vegetarian dishes, having considered all of the alternatives throughout Britain is a fantastic endorsement, and just recognition especially for our brilliant cooks, head chef Mark Ruddick, Anna Rouse and Carol Devey.

Caroline Chisholm, Head of Communications at the Vegetarian Society said, "Traditionally, the North is often seen as offering poor choice for vegetarians, so we're delighted to see that it now boasts two of the best veggie restaurants in the UK. Congratulations to both the Waiting Room and Dandelion & Burdock in West Yorkshire for helping to break the mould."

"It is certainly a feather in the cap for Teesside, which is often perceived as lacking a diverse, high quality cultural offering, that it can boast the best vegetarian restaurant in Britain."