And the Ivy Goes to Dry Creek Kitchen

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In the culinary world, the term "award-winning" is tossed around like so many mushrooms sautéed in a skillet. But sometimes the term actually means something, and some restaurants and chefs just seem to rack up the awards faster than others. Especially in Wine Country, where the competition is fierce, the awards and accolades a particular place earns can mean the difference between good and great.

In Healdsburg, chef Charlie Palmer and his Dry Creek Kitchen have amassed an impressive assortment of stars, diamonds, awards, and critical nods. But this year, one of its most impressive--if little known outside the industry--was achieved. Palmer's restaurant, the Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg (707-431-2800; www.hotelhealdsburg.com), is a recipient of the 2008 Ivy Award from Restaurants and Institutions magazine. Mobil and Michelin aside, this award is highly sought after in the industry, and it has been awarded by the publication since 1971 to recognize distinction, consistency and of course overall above-par quality in food and service.

Though the award is a nice acknowledgment for the Palmer and Dry Creek, really all one needs to know to understand why this award was bestowed is to walk by the restaurant on any given summer evening. The place is consistently packed and buzzing with the kind of energy that only comes from the anticipation among the crowd that something great is either about to happen or is happening now. Congratulations to chef Palmer and his team!

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