How we assess for Rosettes
First introduced in 1956, our AA Rosette award scheme was the first nationwide scheme for assessing the quality of food served by restaurants and hotels. The scheme is a celebration of successful cooking at different levels across the UK – Rosettes are a clear indicator of culinary excellence, and reflect the stand-out experience diners can expect from the moment they enter the restaurant.
So how does it all work?
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 ancilliary items (when served) are assessed. Of all the restaurants across the UK, approximately 10% are of a standard worthy of 1 Rosette and above.
For our 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. We are constantly reviewing our 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
Receiving 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 guidelines shown below may help. Experiencing our 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.
Announcements 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.
These restaurants will be achieving standards that stand out 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 with confidence and a sense of anticipation
The best local restaurants, which aim for and achieve:
- - Higher standards
- - Better consistency
- - Greater precision apparent in cooking
- - Obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients
These are 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 judgement 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
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
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, yet few achieve