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How the AA awards Rosettes

What makes a restaurant worthy of a Rosette award?

First introduced in 1956, the AA’s Rosette Award scheme was the first UK-wide scheme for assessing the quality of food served by restaurants and hotels.

A consistent approach

The Rosette scheme is an award, not a classification, and although there is necessarily an element of subjectivity when it comes to assessing taste, we aim for a consistent approach throughout the UK. Our awards are made solely on the basis of a meal visit or visits by one or more of our hotel and restaurant inspectors, who have an unrivalled breadth and depth of experience in assessing quality. Essentially it’s a snapshot, whereby the entire meal including ancillary items (when served) are assessed. Of all the restaurants across the UK, approximately 10% are of a standard which is worthy of 1 Rosette and above.

It's all about the food

For AA inspectors, the top and bottom line is the food. The taste of a dish is what counts, and whether it successfully delivers to the diner the promise of the menu. A restaurant is only as good as its worst meal. Although presentation and competent service should be appropriate to the style of the restaurant and the quality of the food, they cannot affect the Rosette assessment as such, either up or down. The summaries below indicate what our inspectors look for, but are intended only as guidelines. The AA is constantly reviewing its award criteria, and competition usually results in an all-round improvement in standards, so it becomes increasingly difficult for restaurants to reach an award level.

The next level

Achieving a Rosette is a huge achievement and something not to be underestimated. We are often asked by chefs and proprietors: “What is the difference between 1 and 5 Rosettes and how can I get to the next level?” We answer that it’s how well a chef manages to apply advanced technique while retaining maximum flavour, and assuming an appropriate quality of source ingredients.
While we endeavour to work with the industry and promote great cooking across the UK, it is of paramount importance for chefs to always serve their market first. We recommend they don’t chase awards, but see them as something to celebrate when they come along. Where, however, the winning of Rosettes is an aspiration, the simple guidelines, shown opposite, may help. Experiencing AA food tastings, enhanced food tastings or signing up to one of the AA Rosette Academies can also give further insight and guidance, but these are separate from the awards process and do not influence any assessments.

One Rosette

These restaurants will be achieving standards that standout in their local area, featuring:

  • food prepared with care, understanding and skill
  • good quality ingredients

The same expectations apply to hotel restaurants where guests should be able to eat in with confidence and a sense of anticipation. Around 45% of restaurants/hotels with an AA Rosette have one Rosette.

Two Rosettes

The best local restaurants, which aim for and achieve:

  • higher standards
  • better consistency
  • greater precision is apparent in the cooking
  • obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients

Around 45% of restaurants/hotels with an AA Rosette have two Rosettes.

Three Rosettes

Outstanding restaurants that achieve standards that demand national recognition well beyond their local area. The cooking will be underpinned by:

  • the selection and sympathetic treatment of the highest quality ingredients
  • timing, seasoning and the judgment of flavour combinations will be consistently excellent

These virtues will tend to be supported by other elements such as intuitive service and a well-chosen wine list. Around 10% of the restaurants/hotels with an AA Rosette have three Rosettes and above.

Four Rosettes

Among the top restaurants in the UK where the cooking demands national recognition. These restaurants will exhibit:

  • intense ambition
  • a passion for excellence
  • superb technical skills
  • remarkable consistency
  • an appreciation of culinary traditions combined with a passionate desire for further exploration and improvement

42 restaurants in the Best Restaurants of Britain and Ireland guide have four Rosettes.

Five Rosettes

The pinnacle, where the cooking compares with the best in the world. These restaurants will have:

  • highly individual voices
  • exhibit breathtaking culinary skills and set the standards to which others aspire to, yet few achieve

15 restaurants in this guide have five Rosettes.

Announcement of awards

One and two Rosettes are awarded at the time of inspection. Three and four Rosette awards are announced twice during the year, but never at the time of inspection. Five Rosettes are awarded just once a year and never at the time of inspection.

Suspension of multi-Rosettes (3, 4, 5 Rosettes)

When a chef holds 3, 4 or 5 Rosettes and moves from one establishment to another, the award is suspended at that establishment and does not follow the chef automatically. We recommend that when a change of chef occurs, establishments let us know as soon as possible in order for us to schedule inspections.