Yes it’s that time of year again where the great and the good of the catering industry gather for their annual awards from the AA. The dinner was held at the Hilton Park Lane in London with 5 rosette chef Marcus Wareing supplying dinner to the 700 guests consisting of Carpaccio of Beef, Halibut with Razor Clams and Lobster and Chocolate & Raspberry Fondant .
So to the crux of it all, the winners & losers. As has been posted elsewhere Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road did indeed lose a rosette and is now placed at 4. A source we know told us that the attitude from within RHR is that they aren’t overly concerned by this and are more interested in their rating from Michelin in January. Funny how times have changed, from the incident a few years ago when Mr Ramsay allegedly threatened to withdraw all his restaurants from the AA restaurant guide because Petrus (at the time under the stewardship of Marcus Wareing) wasn’t going to be rated at 5 rosettes. This was at a different time for Ramsay Holdings, where they carried much more weigh politically and now, after a series of less than flattering reviews and posts about the group’s restaurants they are starting to have an impact.
The other two surprises were L’anima (at 2 rosettes) and Kenny Atkinson (rumoured also at 2), both are well respected within the industry and L’anima has been widely considered Michelin star material for a number of years (even featuring in William Sitwell’s programme on the subject). Kenny Atkinson came to the forefront after winning a Michelin star & 3 Rosettes for the Tean Restaurant at St. Martins on the Isle, which then opened the door for TV programmes such as Great British Menu. He has subsequently moved to Seaham Hall then Rockliffe Hall near Darlington in his native north east.
Other additions to the higher echelons were The Burlington Restaurant at The Devonshire Arms (Steve Smith), The Kitchin, Edinburgh (Tom Kitchin) and Northcote Manor (Nigel Haworth & Lisa Allen), all being awarded 4 rosettes. There was also an addition to the 5 rosette tier, Simon Rogan’s L’Enclune in Cumbria. With his unique style of food, coupled with his passion for foraging, Mr Rogan’s star has clearly been on the rise in 2010 with us predicting a promotion from Michelin in January. Whilst he may have come across a touch diva’ish on Twitter concerning his apparent lack of newsworthiness, trust us Simon, your frustration was nothing compared to those of us that write about the industry in the lack of a press release from the AA. But it arrived in due course and we’d like to thank Katie Stephens at the AA for duly dispatching one to us.
Other notes of interest in the 3 rosette tier, are that the more casual restaurant at Sketch (The Gallery) has been promoted (we’re unsure as to how much influence & input Pierre Gagnaire has with that restaurant). Nathan Outlaw has a new entry for his latest incarnation at St. Endoc Hotel, Paul Kiching’s 21212 restaurant in Edinburgh also gains entry. Tristan Welsh’s Launceston Place restaurant along with Restaurant Alimentum in Cambridge and William Drabble makes a reappearance with his latest outing, Seven Park Place, after leaving Aubergine (which also gets an entry, although how valid this will be as the group have announced recently that the restaurant is to change direction soon).
There is some good news for Mr Ramsay, his much maligned Petrus restaurant, (famously called greige by Giles Coren) has a new entry for 3 rosettes. Other groups which have faired well include the 10in8 group, headed by Mr Alan Murchinson with their Paris House also achieving 3 rosettes, as did the Galvin Brother’s Galvin La Chapelle (which also won AA restaurant of the year in London). Will Smith & Anthony Demetre’s Wild Honey was also promoted and now matches it’s sibling, Arbtus.
After the departure of the team from the Vineyard at Stockcross, Daniel Galmiche has done well to assemble a kitchen brigade and have an entry at 3 rosettes, although we’re sure that he really hankers after the bigger prize of regaining a star.
Obviously chefs with higher profiles within the industry are bound to grab the headlines but lesser known restaurants deserved to be mentioned; 1901 Restaurant at Andaz Hotel, London EC2, The Alderley Restaurant at Alderley Edge Hotel, Alderley Edge &The Ardanaiseig Hotel, Kilchrenan, to name a few.
With the explosion of talent now emerging from the kitchens in the UK, gaining entry into the fabled top 10% of restaurants as rated by the AA, which is what 3, 4 & 5 rosettes means, is harder now than ever before. Whilst we believe this can only be a good thing for the industry and the customers, as standards rise, it will also mean the more complacent celebrity chef will have to stay on his guard to justify the high prices charged to their legions of followers.
Exciting prospects for the coming year? Well there is the latest offerings from Mr John Campbell at Coworth Park, Mr Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner at Mandarin Oriental, Mr Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social and we’ll be waiting to see Mr Alan Murchinson’s offering from his recently acquired New Angel (soon to be renamed The Carved Angel). We think these will be the most eagerly anticipated openings this year.