AA ANNOUNCES NEW ROSETTE AWARDS January 2014
The AA today announces the latest restaurants to be awarded the coveted new 3 and 4 AA Rosettes. Eight of the restaurants celebrating new higher Rosette awards are from London with the other 11 ranging from Loch Ness to Jersey .
Of the restaurants receiving the awards just one has obtained the prestigious 4 AA Rosettes, namely The Greenhouse in London.
Simon Numphud, Manager at AA Hotel Services said, ‘The Greenhouse has everything we look for in a four Rosette restaurant, namely a passion for excellence, superb technical skills and intense ambition as well as national recognition for its cooking. Restaurants serving food of a three Rosette standard are worthy of recognition from well beyond their local area. I am delighted that these restaurants hail from such far-reaching parts of the country, and is a great demonstration that wherever you are in Great Britain you can find excellent AA Rosetted restaurants.’
The new 3 Rosette restaurants are:
- Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley
- Fallowfields Hotel and Restaurant, Kingston Bagpuize
- Restaurant Tristan, Horsham
- Restaurant Story, London SE1
- The Grove, Narberth
- Bo London Restaurant, London W1
- The Lovat, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
- Ormer, St Helier, Jersey
- Design House Restaurant, Halifax
- Hedone, London W4
- HKK, London EC2
- Roux at Parliament Square , London SW1
- Galvin at Windows Restaurant and Bar, London W1
- The Black Swan, Oldstead
- Lower Slaughter Manor, Lower Slaughter
- The Burlington at Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey
- Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham
- Bingham, Richmond upon Thames
The Greenhouse, London
Tucked away behind gates in a wide Mayfair Mews; the thinking behind the name becomes apparent as you stroll down the decked pathway, lined with bamboo plants, box hedges, bay trees, sculptures and little fountains on the way to the front door – a lovely, tranquil garden setting that instantly puts you in a relaxed mood. Sadly, alfresco dining isn’t an option, but you do get views of the garden from the serenely stylish dining room, where the extremely professional yet very friendly service plays its part in creating an oasis of calm and refinement. Natural, restful shades of beige and ivory are offset by modern darkwood floors, avocado-coloured leather banquettes and chairs, tables dressed in their finest white linen, and a feature wall taken up by a filigree display of tree branches to emphasise the garden theme. Many great chefs have run the stoves at The Greenhouse over the years, and today’s incumbent, Arnaud Bignon, is not about to let the side down. He cooks from the heart, starting with the best ingredients money can buy and combining techniques old and new to produce dishes with clean, precise flavours that look beautiful on the plate.
Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley
The Black Swan has been right at the heart of this lovely little market town for centuries, and in the 21st it’s looking rather dapper both outside and in. It’s full of old-world charm, with open fires and antiques aplenty, alongside bags of contemporary swagger. There’s an award-winning tearoom should you fancy treating yourself to a cream tea or a Yorkshire parkin, while the newly refurbished and relaunched Gallery restaurant is the place to head for something more substantial – and rather more special. Paul Peters is a chef who cooks with a high level of skill and a good deal of creative flair, sourcing the finest Yorkshire ingredients and turning them into dishes that wow with their clearly defined flavours and beautiful presentation. The restaurant doubles up as a gallery during the day, showcasing original artworks available to buy, while during the evenings the focus switches to dining, with the elegant tables dressed in their finest white linen, with sparkling glassware and soft music playing in the background. The front of house staff are well versed in the menus, and they’ve got a lot to remember given that they include a six-course tasting menu and a ten-course ‘gastronomic’ option.
Fallowfields Hotel and Restaurant, Kingston Bagpuize
When it comes to sourcing raw ingredients for the kitchen, they don’t have to go far from the front door at Fallowfields. The family-run hotel may be small – just ten bedrooms – but there’s so much land surrounding the delightful, honey-stoned building that as well as an orchard and kitchen garden, they keep Tamworth pigs, chickens, sheep, quail and their own herd of Dexter cattle. With produce as fresh and local as this, Matt Weedon must be the envy of many a chef in these parts. The restaurant is as lovely as you could hope for, housed in a conservatory with views of the lawns and paddocks, and candlelit at night. It’s a light and airy setting by day, romantic in the evenings, although it’s clearly the assured modern British cooking of Matt and his team that make people travel great distances.
Restaurant Tristan, Horsham
The 16th-century building in a pedestrianised street in the heart of Horsham is a bit of an historic gem. It looks gorgeous from the outside, and once inside the first-floor restaurant (downstairs is a casual seating area for daytime light bites, coffees and cakes) it’s a real mix of original features like exposed wooden beams and bare floorboards, with a contemporary decor of cream-painted walls broken up with some feature black and cream floral wallpaper. The pale-wood tables are simply set with olive-green place mats and crisp linen napkins, while chocolate-brown leatherette seating completes the modern look. Chef-patron Tristan Mason’s food is certainly from the modern end of the spectrum too, but that’s not to say he doesn’t draw on his solid grounding of classic French technique (having trained with Marco Pierre White you’d expect nothing less).
Restaurant Story, London SE1
If you want to eat at Restaurant Story, you need to be quick off the mark: a table at this new addition to every foodie’s must-visit list is so in demand, bookings are only being taken on a month-by-month basis. So why the big fuss? Well, word has got round that chef-patron Tom Sellers is a real star who honed his skills with some of the greats of the industry (Tom Aikens in London, Thomas Keller at Per Se in New York and René Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen) and is turning out some truly stunning food at his first solo venture. The setting is a Nordic-styled wood-clad building at the Tower Bridge end of Tooley Street (easy to spot then), where floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of The Shard. Inside it’s all clean-lined modernity, with polished concrete floors, chocolate-brown leather chairs and blonde-wood tables, and, thank heavens, an open kitchen. The menu – presented inside an old book as a first hint at the ‘story’ theme – follows the tasting format (either six or ten courses), with each stage designed to reflect Sellers’ journey through life, with some clever plays on childhood memories.
The Grove, Narberth
It sounds rather lovely, and it is. The neat, pristine white house, with a fascinating history going all the way back to the 15th century, is surrounded by a gorgeous restored Georgian walled garden, and has stunning views of the Preseli Mountains. It’s a beautiful spot, no question, and inside it’s all rather luxurious, with the period features of the house enhanced through gentle modernisation. The elegant restaurant looks out over the grounds and is sumptuously furnished in warm tones, with soft lighting, works by Welsh artists on the walls (most of which are for sale, should you want a souvenir of your visit), and an open fire in the colder months. In such a setting, you’d hope the food would be up to the mark, and head chef Duncan Barham and his team certainly don’t disappoint. The starting point for the seasonally changing menus is tip-top produce, sourced from the garden and the local environs and brought in fresh every day: you can taste the difference (as a certain supermarket might say). The brilliant thing about this kitchen is that it knows how to treat these superb ingredients (local beef, lamb and venison, fish delivered to the door by a local fisherman) with restraint and respect to produce dishes that sing with natural flavours and are impeccably balanced.
Bo London Restaurant, London SE1
Unless you’ve lived in Hong Kong or visited the city’s gastronomic hotspots on holiday, you’re unlikely to have heard of chef Alvin Leung and his award-winning restaurant Bo Innovation. But that’s probably about to change now Leung has landed in the UK capital and launched his second boundary-pushing restaurant, the aptly named Bo London. Leung describes his style of food as “X-treme Chinese”, with the self-taught chef’s aim to break down perceptions of traditional and regional Chinese food by playing with ingredients and techniques and combining centuries-old recipes with modern cooking methods. The menu at Bo London features some of his favourite dishes from Bo Innovation in Hong Kong , alongside new dishes inspired by British cuisine and culture. The restaurant’s look is by no means showy, decorated as it is in muted browns and beige in the front section, with a brighter, more airy dining area at the back, but the food is designed to knock your socks off, and it does through the theatre of its presentation (many of the one-bite creations come on unique crockery designed by the chef himself), through the novelty of the dishes, and the flavour delivery achieved through a masterful lightness of touch. The brilliantly conceived 12-course ‘Ode to Great Britain ’ menu reinvents classic British dishes in Leung’s own inimitable style.
The Lovat, Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
The house has been here, in an elevated position at the southern tip of Loch Ness, since Victorian times, and it’s looking rather dapper having been rescued after years of neglect and given a major overhaul by the current owners. Today’s hotel not only has a glossy sheen – a successful combination of period charm and modern style – but it’s run on sound eco-friendly principles (ask about the biomass wood chip boiler), so you can be sure everything you’re served in the restaurant is as local and sustainable as possible. In fact, there’s a lot going on in chef Sean Kelly’s world, for as well as being extremely choosy about the ingredients he uses in his five-course dinner menus, he’s also incredibly imaginative and creative, producing dishes that never fail to bring a smile to your face. The restaurant (there’s a more informal brasserie too) is an elegant room with high ceilings, wood-panelled walls and views across the grounds to Loch Ness through large bay windows, while the friendly staff are fully versed in the intricacies of each dish.
Ormer, St Helier, Jersey
It was a sad day for St Helier’s foodies when Shaun Rankin announced he was leaving Bohemia restaurant at the swish Club Hotel, but thankfully he didn’t go far: here he is, running his own place in the centre of town, and it’s a real gem. The site on Dom Street has been lavishly done out with hints of art deco style (the refurb totalled £1.4 million, apparently) and it looks stunning with its wooden floors, chandeliers, plush blue velvet and mustard yellow leather seating, and darkwood tables simply decorated with small lamps. There’s a lively bar on the ground floor, a fabulous terrace on the street out front – prime for a spot of people watching – and upstairs a smart private dining room and a roof garden and cigar terrace for those balmier Jersey days. And so to the food: Rankin is a firm believer in the superlative quality of Jersey’s produce from land and sea, and thus his menus showcase the best the island has to offer in dishes that impress with their depth of natural flavour and beautiful presentation; seasonality and freshness are the watchwords here.
Design House Restaurant, Halifax
It may be in a converted old mill, but inside it’s a thoroughly modern affair, with white-topped tables, back-lit wall panels in caramel and cream, and framed prints bringing splashes of colour to the white walls. Halifax ’s food-loving inhabitants of all ages have really taken this place to their hearts, and it’s not surprising given its buzzy vibe, friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable staff, and contemporary, inventive cooking. You can soak up the atmosphere perched on a tall white-leather stool at the central bar, before moving to your table to dine from either the à la carte or tasting menu (or if it’s the middle of the day perhaps the two-course lunch menu at an incredible £10). Chef-proprietor Lee Marshall is a Halifax lad who, together with head chefs Ben Varley and Dave Duttine, is keen to promote the best of the local larder; the cooking from the open-plan kitchen follows the seasons faithfully.
Hedone, London W4
The open kitchen takes centre stage at the ever-buzzing Hedone, and that’s only right, as it really is the nerve centre of the operation; ingredients at the pinnacle of freshness and quality arrive daily, informing what makes it onto the ever-evolving menus (as certain ingredients run out, so one table may not get exactly the same dishes as another). In short, it’s all about the ingredients, and that’s not surprising when you learn that the man behind it all is food blogger and ingredient-expert-turned-chef Mikael Jonsson. Almost everything is cooked to order, and there’s a great deal of skill and creativity on show. There’s a three-course option for a very reasonable £35, but if you can push the boat out and go for the tasting menu or ‘carte blanche’ (chef’s surprise menu) then do it – you won’t regret it. The home-baked sourdough bread is so moreish it’s hard to hold back, but with so much good eating to come you’d be wise to.
HKK, London EC2
Just a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station, this is one Chinese restaurant that really is a cut above. Its modern, minimalist, clean-lined looks – all mushroom-coloured banquettes, black chairs with slate-blue cushions and a glass-walled kitchen – tell you from the off that this is going to be something a bit special, and indeed the various tasting menus (plus set and à la carte menus at lunch) follow classical lines but with some European twists, and ingredients are of the highest possible quality. There’s a swish bar for drinks and dim sum, with the dim sum selection – top notch stuff – also served in the restaurant.
Roux at Parliament Square , London W1
Whichever way you look at it, this is a restaurant with serious pedigree. Just a few paces from the Houses of Parliament, it’s on the ground floor of a listed building designed by Alfred Waterhouse, architect of London ’s Natural History Museum no less. The Roux in the name needs no introduction, although it isn’t Michel Roux jnr who’s cooking here on a daily basis – he’s over at Le Gavroche, of course, while Steve Groves is in charge of the kitchen in Westminster . The restaurant may not be well-known to the masses, but those in the know – and that includes a good deal of politicians and architects from the local environs – keep on coming back for the clean, precise, classically based cooking that keeps a keen eye on the seasons. If cocktails are your thing, a pit-stop at the bar upstairs is a must before moving on into one of the two dining rooms, each done out in soothing neutral tones with crisp linen, fine glassware and sparkling silverware, where the service is polished but by no means fussy.
Galvin at Windows Restaurant and Bar, London W1
It’s been open for nearly a decade now, but a table in Galvin at Windows is still one of the hottest tickets in town. The view of the capital from the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton is enough of a draw in itself, and while the window tables are the prize spots, the restaurant’s clever split-level design allows everyone a share of that stunning panorama. Chef-patron Chris Galvin is renowned for his bold, creative take on French haute cuisine, and while he doesn’t man the stoves here on a daily basis, newly installed head chef Joo Won is fully versed in the signature style. If you haven’t managed to bag a window table in the restaurant, your luck might be in the bar, where spectacular views and equally impressive cocktails go hand in hand. In the restaurant itself, the look is all 1930s glamour, with tables dressed up to the nines, and service that’s on the ball whether or not the master, Fred Sirieix (you may have seen him on the telly), is on duty. The cooking eschews butter, cream and rich sauces in favour of clean, vibrant, natural flavours, with seasonality a watchword.
The Black Swan, Oldstead
What isn’t there to like about The Black Swan? In a lovely, quiet little village in the North York Moors National Park , the quaint old building (it’s been here for some 500 years) is run as a restaurant with rooms by the Banks family, who have lived and farmed here for generations. It’s a real family affair, with Tom and Anne Banks working in the bar and restaurant, son James managing front of house and his brother Tom heading up the kitchen. It’s no wonder the place has such a homely, friendly feel, further enhanced by the charming period features of the house and the cleverly designed interiors which lend a real sense of luxury to a visit here. The bar is cosy with its roaring log fire, oak tables and stone-flagged floor, and serves a proper pint of local real ale (along with some excellent wines by the glass, and cocktails, if that’s more your thing). For the restaurant you need to head upstairs where you’ll find a charming, uncluttered room with an oak floor, Persian rugs, an open fire, and candles on the tables giving a gentle, soothing glow. Chef Tom cooks with the seasons and with a great deal of passion and flair, and his menus are full of interesting, exciting combinations as well as some gently updated classics.
Lower Slaughter Manor, Lower Slaughter
Lower Slaughter Manor epitomises what the Cotswolds is about: a gorgeous, honey-stoned 17th-century house in a picture-postcard village, it has olde English charm in spades and is a wonderfully relaxing place to stay. The elegant interiors have been brought fully into the 21st century without jarring with the antiquity of the house (although the recent refurb to the restaurant – all grey walls and seating, and grey and red curtains – is said to be a little bit too modern for some older guests), and the staff are as friendly and welcoming as you could hope for. There are several lounges for lounging in before dinner – perhaps with a G&T and a few well-made canapés (plaice goujons with tartare sauce, and ham hock with apricot purée maybe) in hand; it all augurs well for what is to come. And what is to come is some classic, highly skilled cooking from head chef Jamie Raftery, who draws on the abundant local larder for his finely wrought seasonal dishes.
The Burlington at Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey
There’s no two ways about it, The Devonshire Arms is a fantastic country-house hotel. Right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, surrounded by 30,000 acres of land making up the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey Estate (the ruined abbey is a stone’s throw away), this one-time coaching inn dating back to the 17th century is in a fabulous location. Yet it has a lot more going for it besides its geography, with welcoming log fires in the numerous quiet and comfortable lounges, luxurious bedrooms, a swish spa and two restaurants – the more informal Devonshire Brasserie & Bar, and the jewel in the crown, the Burlington Restaurant. The dress code has been relaxed in recent times (smart casual is now the required attire) but the room remains as elegant and traditional in style as ever, with its pale aubergine walls decorated with classical architectural drawings (borrowed from the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth, no less), soft lighting, and antique tables dressed with designer silverware and sparkling crystal. Here, head chef Adam Smith presents his individual take on modern British cooking, with dishes that impact on both the eye and the palate in equal measure, and are honed largely from the estate’s excellent produce, as well as herbs, vegetables and fruits from the kitchen garden.
Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham
As newcomers to Birmingham ‘s dining scene, this is the way to make a good first impression. Adam’s is a pop-up restaurant, you see, here for two years before they open a more permanent restaurant elsewhere in the city centre. By that time it is likely chef-patron Adam Stokes and his wife Natasha will have a legion of fans. Their restaurant is right at the heart of the city’s action and looks rather good for a temporary address. There’s a decidedly contemporary and city-slicker feel all round – inside and out – with a deliberate lack of starchiness. Adam has experience in top-end kitchens and his cooking is creative and modern, but avoids look-at-me attention seeking – everything is on the plate for a reason. The format is based around tasting menus – five or nine courses – although there is a three-course lunch. There is nothing temporary about this place. It will be a central part of the Birmingham restaurant scene in its time here, and one can only look forward to their next venture. Get here while you can.
Bingham, Richmond upon Thames
With so many chain restaurants dominating the centre of town, this little independently run boutique hotel just a short stroll along the river is a breath of fresh air. It occupies a rather handsome pair of Georgian townhouses, with gorgeous Thames views from the covered balcony (the hot ticket for alfresco dining during the summer months), and an interior that could’ve come straight out of a glossy design magazine. The chosen colour palette is one of easy-on-the-eye neutral hues, with statement teardrop chandeliers and cleverly-recessed lights softly illuminating the glamorous dining rooms – a sexy boudoir scene of velvety curvaceous banquettes and chairs in pale gold, feature mirrors and silk curtains. It’s a glamorous setting indeed, but it certainly doesn’t upstage the cooking of Mark Jarvis, a talented chef who has the good sense to source impeccable, sustainably produced ingredients, mostly from the local area, and to do as little as possible to them so their natural flavours just sing out.