The UK’s most highly rated restaurants, pubs and chefs were announced last night (September 25) at the AA Hospitality Awards. Now in its 20th year, the glittering awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel celebrates the UK’s top hotels, restaurants, and pubs and the people behind them. It also marks the release of the 2018 editions of the AA’s range of lifestyle guides; the AA Hotel Guide and the AA Best Restaurants Guide.
A popular and coveted title, this unique award, introduced in 1996, offers all AA Rosette-awarded chefs the chance to decide which of their peers deserves the ultimate recognition of their performance over the past twelve months.
John Williams MBE, Executive Chef of the Ritz has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to culinary excellence. Heading up a team of 64 chefs at the Ritz Restaurant, he is passionate about using seasonal British ingredients.
The chef, who is also chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, has been working at the iconic hotel since 2004.
Introduced in 2013, this award recognises restaurants that deliver excellent standards of restaurant service and hospitality. Teams will deliver technical service skills and food and beverage knowledge of the highest standard.
Located on the Isle of Skye overlooking Loch Dunvegan, The Three Chimneys & The House Over-By offers stunning food using quality local ingredients. Over the last three decades it has made its mark, with the 22,000 visitors it attracts each year boosting the local economy, and playing a considerable part in building Skye's gastronomic reputation.
Head chef Scott Davies continues to maintain respect for the island's identity with his inventive approach, which draws from the Scottish and Nordic heritage of the Highlands and Islands and allows superlative raw materials (many grown within walking distance of the kitchen) the opportunity to speak for themselves, truly living up to the ethos of 'the best of Skye, land and sea'.
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Three Chimneys & The House Over-By: “Not only a highlight of the Isle of Skye, but of the entire United Kingdom, this restaurant with rooms embodies quality and passion in everything they do.”
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Introduced in 2000, this award recognises restaurants that provide cuisine of a truly excellent standard, as well as demonstrating innovation and ambience and providing a high standard of hospitality.
Phil Howard, Head Chef of Elystan Street said: “It is always humbling to be acknowledged in such a competitive industry - but it is thrilling to feel that we might be at the start of an exciting journey that sees the making of another wonderful restaurant that can serve London for many years to come.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Elystan Street: “High flying cooking delivers brilliance at every turn in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Steven Smith, Chef Owner said: “I’m not going to go with the cliché, ‘we’re really pleased to have won’ because of course we are. It’s so much more than that. As a pub, we’re here for the long term and this award not only creates a legacy for The Freemasons, it’s a building block from which we plan to move onward and upwards. When I started out over a decade ago, I wanted to stake out a place for myself in this industry and become known for the quality of my dishes and menus. This is a very proud moment for me, Aga and the team, and really puts The Freemasons on the map for foodies across the country, as well as our loyal customers and regular visitors.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Freemasons: “Exciting virtuoso cooking in a relaxed village inn”.
Jan-Willem Damen, Operations Director of the Dining Room, said: “We are extremely proud to have been given this award. It is a recognition of 12 years of unwavering dedication by a kitchen team led throughout by Exec Chef James Freeman, to create stunning dishes with locally sourced Scottish ingredients.
“Manager Francois Guillemet and his team try and bring an element of entertainment to our guests, through the personable but unfussy service, the exquisite wines and our SMWS whisky pairings on the Taster Menu.
“The concept of The Dining Room has stood the test of time, offering fine dining to our guests whilst giving them the opportunity to explore the art of food and whisky pairing. Having an unrivalled selection of single cask whiskies available means that this concept will only grow in strength.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Dining Room: "The Dining Room’s partnership with The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society offers a dining experience steeped in French classicism.”
Neil Kedward, managing director of the Seren collection, said: “We are immensely proud of the team and all they have achieved this year at the Beach House Restaurant in their first year of operating. We are so excited about the future and what this venue can achieve under our Welsh Head Chef, Hywel Griffith. We look forward to helping the team achieve all their goals in this stunning restaurant.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Beach House: “The Beach House Restaurant offers a fresh contemporary cooking style to match the fresh sea air.”
PUB OF THE YEAR
The AA Pub of the Year is selected with the help of our AA inspectors. These pubs stand out for being great all-rounders, combining a convivial atmosphere, well-kept beers and ciders, excellent food, and of course, a warm welcome from the friendly and efficient hosts and their staff.
Matt Saxton, Manager of The Bell, said: "To receive the AA Award for the Best Pub in England is an amazing achievement. This is a trying time for the catering industry and I’m incredibly proud of how my team has shone through it all. I am also really thankful to all of our guests that have supported us, and our owners that have backed our ideas to make our estate greater. Watch this space there is lots more to come."
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Bell: “An inn with a lot to offer – including comfy rooms, a welcoming bar and a café.”
Mike Smith, Manager of the Bow Bar, said: “Managing an independent bar allows for a lot more creativity, so we put a lot of energy into making a simple formula a success. To be recognised for these efforts is a real honour, and we are grateful to be named the ‘Best Pub in Scotland’.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of the Bow Bar: “For any whisky or beer connoisseur, the Bow Bar is an absolute delight”.
Rachel Roberts, Marketing Director of Bryn Tyrch, said: “We are very proud and honoured to get this award. This reflects a real team effort from all the team and we thank them for all their hard work and for our clients for believing and supporting us.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Bryn Tyrch: “A charming old inn with mountain views.”
Introduced in 1998, this award recognises an outstanding contribution to promoting wine understanding and appreciation. Nominees are judged on the quality of their wine list and their ability to inspire customers to make wider and more adventurous choices in selecting wines.
Andrew Oxley, Head of Hotel Services at The AA said: “Each of these establishments has impressed us by their hand-selected and imaginative wine lists and their expertise in fine and accessible wines”
Mathias Camilleri, Head Sommelier of The Five Fields, said: “It is always a pleasure to be able to share what one is so passionate about with guests – particularly when they are so receptive regardless of the different levels of their own knowledge or experience.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of The Five Fields: “Bonnyman's experience in kitchens across the globe provides The Five Fields with intelligent and exemplary cooking with the wine list to match.”
Andrew Fairlie, Chef Patron of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, said: “I am delighted that the wine offering at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie has been recognised by such an important publication as the AA Restaurant Guide. It reflects all the hard-work that the whole team put into making dining at Restaurant Andrew Fairlie so enjoyable, and shines a spotlight on the importance of matching great wines to food. The passion and enthusiasm that my team puts into sourcing these gems of wines to match to my cooking makes dining here so much more than about just food – it’s about the complete gastronomic experience.”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Restaurant Andrew Fairlie: “The team's ability to match the standard of their food with their selection of wines is commendable.”
Amelia Eiriksson, General Manager of Ynyshir: “This is awesome for us and very unexpected! Our list is made up of things that we love to drink, with a few incredible classics in there and lots of new terroir driven wines. It matches our food - if it tastes amazing it goes on the list!”
An AA Hotel Inspector said of Ynyshir: “The dining room at Ynyshir offers the very best selection of wines to accompany their highly accomplished food.”