AA Restaurant Guide 2012 announces 13 new restaurants gaining 3 rosettes

The Staff Canteen

The AA Restaurant Guide 2012 today announces the latest recipients of its coveted Rosette awards with 13 establishments all gaining three prestigious AA Rosettes. 

The higher AA Rosette awards, awarded just twice a year, celebrate the exceptionally high standards of cuisine that these restaurants offer. Six of the new three Rosette awarded restaurants are in London, while the remaining seven range from Scotland to the New Forest.

The new three Rosette restaurants are:

  • The Ritz, Piccadilly
  • Viajante, Bethnal Green
  • Gauthier, Soho
  • Koffmann's, Knightsbridge
  • Roussillon, Pimlico
  • Maze, Grosvenor Square
  • Royal Oak at Paley Street, Maidenhead
  • Lower Slaughter Manor, Gloucestershire
  • Peacock at Rowsley
  • Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery, Darlington
  • Limewood, Lyndhurst
  • The Black Swan, Oldstead
  • The Torridon, Torridon

AA Hotel Services manager Simon Numphud said: "I am delighted to welcome thirteen further restaurants into the higher Rosette awards. AA Rosettes are awarded in recognition of high-quality cooking and it is wonderful to see chefs throughout the UK continue to challenge themselves and hone their skills, with the teams at restaurants such as The Royal Oak at Paley Street and The Black Swan having worked justifiably hard to make the transition from two to three Rosettes. This year we recognise emerging talent such as chef-patron Nuno Mendes at Viajante, in addition to established names that have moved onto pastures new such as Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery and the eponymous Koffman's and Gauthier.

"Restaurants serving food of a three Rosette standard are worthy of recognition from well beyond their local area and I am delighted that these thirteen very deserving restaurants have been acknowledged for their efforts."

AA Rosettes are awarded solely by AA Hotel and Restaurant Inspectors with no influence from hotels, restaurants or other guides. The AA Rosette scheme has long been established and successfully recognises cooking at different levels nationwide. The success or failure in achieving Rosettes is based on at least one visit to a hotel or restaurant. Essentially it's a snapshot, whereby the entire meal including ancillary items are assessed.  Of all the restaurants across the UK, approximately 10% are of a standard which is worthy of one Rosette and above.  


The Ritz

The impressively opulent dining room at this iconic venue, justly renowned as one of the most beautiful in Europe, displays an abundance of palatial marble, Louis XVI furnishings, garlands of gold chandeliers and a whole wall of panelled mirror. Service is also fabulous and adds to the charm of this elegant setting. Executive chef John Williams MBE draws inspiration from classic and traditional dishes of the last century, developing a menu that offers haute cuisine overflowing with luxury ingredients.

Viajante, Bethnal Green

The vision of chef-patron Nuno Mendes is laid bare with meticulous precision and unerring ambition at the old Town Hall, reborn as a boutique hotel. Hailing from Portugal and with experience at some tip-top addresses in the US, and a brief stint at the legendary El Bulli, Mendes aims to take diners on a culinary viajante (a journey).  The deal is six, nine or twelve courses, and note there is no menu. That's right"¦this is a journey"¦destination unknown. Ingredients are uniformly excellent and the array of dishes are well-judged, bold, clever and a pleasure to eat.

Gauthier, Soho

Alexis Gauthier, who won many plaudits for his style of confident modern French cooking at Roussillon in Pimlico, has moved into the hustle-and-bustle of Soho and put his name above the door. But there is no Soho rowdiness here - Monsieur Gauthier has created a little French oasis of calm and civilisation amid the mayhem.  There are two restaurant rooms and two private dining rooms spread across the floors, and intimacy and a soothing peaceful ambience permeate.  The menu offers a good degree of flexibility, giving the choice of 3 to 5 courses, or the full Goût du Jour (note an excellent vegetarian version is available). The seasons are followed with due diligence, high quality produce abounds, and clean, clear flavours are delivered in dishes rooted in the French classics.

Koffmann's, Knightsbridge

The summer of 2010 saw the opening of Koffmann's, located in The Berkeley, the other side of the building from Marcus Wareing's eponymous restaurant. Koffmann has always remained true to his roots in South-West France and the focus here is the hearty, robust flavours of the region. But, this being PK, it is done with phenomenal attention to detail and flair.  The menu may suggest "˜brasserie', and the mood in the room is certainly relaxed, but some of Koffmann's signature dishes are to be found, and the level of skill and technical proficiency of the kitchen makes this classic food of the highest level.

Roussillon, Pimlico

The new man here in Pimlico, Dan Gill, has come from Midsummer House in Cambridge via Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, and is clearly a young man with a lot of talent.  The bow-fronted building has a classical elegance, and once through the door all is soothingly calm, with tables finely dressed and charmingly professional staff on hand.  The array of fabulous breads demonstrate this is a kitchen where attention to detail is king and the vegetarian menu must surely be one of the best in the capital.

Maze, Grosvenor Square

The David Rockwell design suits the bustling nature of the venue - this is no hushed temple. There's a bar area with a rosewood counter and café-crème coloured leather seats where you can eat or simply settle down for a cocktail or two.  The main restaurant is a series of spaces running up to the partly open-to-view kitchen, with diners sitting at cloth-less tables on vivid yellow seating. The multiple course format means the waiters have to work hard delivering course after course, and the kitchen team required to turn out all these complex and inventive dishes is huge. French cooking with Asian influences is the name of the game, some dishes being more cross-over than others.  The wine list is a cracker with the strength and depth to deal with the complexity and variety of the menu.


Royal Oak at Paley Street, Maidenhead

The whitewashed Royal Oak, tucked away down a winding road, is rather more than your everyday country pub: it is indeed the "˜Parky' pub, run by Nick, son of Sir Michael, where chef Dominic Chapman is serving up food of verve and class. There is a lack of pretension throughout but professionalism abounds, and attention to detail ensures everything runs smoothly. The menu has a certain rustic Britishness about it, with seasonal and local produce figuring large, achieving the holy grail of earthy refinement.


Lower Slaughter Manor, Lower Slaughter

This elegant 17th-century mansion is the jewel in the crown of the honeypot Cotswold village, secluded in expansive grounds with mature trees, immaculate lawns and a lovely walled garden.  The kitchen team rises to the occasion, delivering confident contemporary dishes based on excellent seasonal produce.


Peacock at Rowsley

The handsome old-stone dower house has a rich history going back to the mid-17th century, but it is in its current incarnation as a smart hotel with an impressive fine-dining restaurant that it has become a key Peak District address.  The cooking of chef Dan Smith is precise, beautiful to look at, and based on high quality produce, a good deal of which is local. There are lots of little extras to enjoy, from inventive amuse-bouche through to a pre-dessert such as plum compôte with almond mousse.

County Durham

Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery, Darlington

The old Victorian Orangery, with its new lease of life as a fine-dining restaurant under the auspices of Kenny Atkinson, makes for an engaging space to sample Kenny's modern British cooking, which is based on top quality produce, a good deal of it local, and pin-sharp technical skills.  All the little extras are present and correct, from a sweetcorn velouté with chanterelles through to the elegant petits fours.

New Forest

Limewood, Lyndhurst

Limewood brings a touch of luxury to the New Forest. It's the kind of stylish, cosseting, grandly confident establishment that does not leave a single stone unturned, quite literally in fact, as you can even join the house forager on a trip to seek out the best of Hampshire's wild bounty.  Local materials were used in abundance in the refurbishment, and so it is in the kitchen, where Luke Holder leads the brigade serving up British food with a great deal of flair. Excellent breads and ancillary courses show the attention to detail runs from top to bottom.  

North Yorkshire

The Black Swan, Oldstead

As if running a local pub is not enough of a service to the area, the Banks family have turned the venerable old stone inn into a thriving restaurant with rooms, making it one of the most desirable spots in the region.  The restaurant, upstairs from the flagstone floored bar, is where chef Adam Jackson and his team fire on all cylinders. It's a charming room with a low-beamed ceiling, antique tables and chairs, Persian rugs on the floor, and the gentle glow of candlelight. The menu contains lots of local produce giving it a genuine sense of place. The level of ambition is high, the dishes showing both an eye for creativity and a sound grasp of classical technique.


The Torridon, Torridon

The beautiful old shooting lodge looks the part, right down to the soaring tower and position looking across a sea loch (Upper Loch Torridon). There are 58 acres of wooded grounds to explore, so every opportunity to work up an appetite.  The restaurant is a fitting setting for the first-class cooking of chef "˜Bruno' Birkbeck.  The service is a credit to the place, being both charming and completely clued-up about the food and the modern Scottish cooking putting the fabulous regional produce to the fore. 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th January 2011

AA Restaurant Guide 2012 announces 13 new restaurants gaining 3 rosettes