No Expert has just hit the 100th post mark, so for that milestone rather than single out a restaurant, this post focuses on an issue that impacted on a number of our restaurant choices and that is can we trust Michelin Star and AA Rosette ratings alone.
I know there is a lot of debate over how accurate the Michelin star rating system is. I believe we have been to enough Michelin starred restaurants to give an opinion on the subject. Basically the problems seem to be inconsistency and big name restaurants hanging on to stars they no longer merit. The Michelin star rating seems to be about as reliable as the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, i.e., not reliable at all.
The rating system definition for Michelin stars is:-
- 1 star – A very good restaurant in its category
- 2 stars – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
- 3 stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
For more information see Michelin Guide
We have been to some 3 star and 2 star Michelin restaurants that are not in the same class as 1 star restaurants. Compare Tom Aikens to The Waterside Inn for example.
The 5 AA Rosettes award however does seem to match our tastes. The ones on the list in England for example are among our all time favorite restaurants.
The rating system definition for 5 AA Rosettes :-
- The supreme accolade awarded only when the cooking is at the pinnacle of achievement. Flavours, combinations and textures show a faultless sense of balance, giving each dish an extra dimension.
The rating system definition for 4 AA Rosettes :-
- At this level, not only should all technical skills be exemplary, but there should also be daring ideas, and they must work. There is no room for disappointment. Flavours should be accurate and vibrant.
Then just when I thought I could maybe rely on the AA Rosettes I find out that one of our worst of the worst restaurants Harveys of Ramsgate has just been awarded one AA Rosette, and that another of our least favorite places Abode in Canterbury has 2.
The rating system definition for 1 AA Rosette :-
- Chefs should display a mastery of basic techniques and be able to produce dishes of sound quality and clarity of flavours, using good, fresh ingredients.
The rating system definition for 2 AA Rosettes :-
- Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level
Our experience of Harveys of Ramsgate and Abode indicated that they were sadly lacking in several of the areas associated with the definitions.
For more information see:-
The conclusion is that research is essential before you commit to the really expensive dining experiences in the high end restaurants.
- Check out the food blogs.
- Check out Hardens and Zagat.
- Look for real customer reviews via Google Maps.
- Be really wary of the hype.
- Be wary of Celebrity Chef endorsements.
Click here to access our prefered Food Blog/Site list.
- It is also worth trying one of the restaurants deals first, e.g., a pre-theatre or set lunch deal. It is surprising just how many of the top restaurants do offer less expensive options. The toptable web site is a good place to start to find these deals.