AA Announces January Rosette Awards (Jan 2019)


UK restaurants awarded with the highest recognition of culinary excellence

Old Downton Lodge, Roganic and The Dining Room, Whatley Manor awarded four AA Rosettes

22nd January. The
AA has announced its latest Rosette Award winners, recognising
restaurants with the highest culinary offerings in the UK. Three
restaurants have been awarded four AA Rosettes,
while a further sixteen have been awarded three AA Rosettes.

honoured with four AA Rosettes are Old Downton Lodge (Ludlow,
Shropshire), Roganic (London) and The Dining Room, Whatley Manor
(Wiltshire), while those awarded three AA Rosettes include Gordon
London restaurant Pétrus, Rothay Manor
Hotel & Fine Dining, and Allium at Askham Hall.

with three AA Rosettes are all outstanding restaurants achieving
standards that demand national recognition well beyond their local area.
Those awarded four AA Rosettes are among the top restaurants
in the country.

Simon Numphud, Managing Director
at AA Hotel & Hospitality Services said “We are delighted
to recognise these hotels and restaurants for achieving such high
standards of culinary excellence. Congratulations to all those working
at these establishments, who continue to show the breadth
and quality of the British culinary landscape.”

New four AA Rosettes:

The Dining Room, Whatley Manor,
Malmesbury, Wiltshire

Old Downton Lodge,
Ludlow, Shropshire

London, W1

New three AA Rosettes:

Alchemilla, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire  

Allium at Askham Hall, Askham, Cumbria

Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown, London, E9

The Cross
at Kenilworth
, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

etch. by Steven Edwards, Brighton, East Sussex

Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent

John’s House, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire

Launceston Place, London, W8

Lords of The Manor, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

The Methuen Arms, Corsham, Wiltshire

Pétrus, London, SW1

Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining, Ambleside, Cumbria,

The Salutation, Sandwich, Kent

Stem, London, W1

Stocks Hotel, Sark

The Wilderness, Birmingham, West Midlands

AA has been awarding Rosettes to restaurants since 1956, with the top
award of five rosettes being introduced in 1991. The multi rosettes are
awarded bi-annually in January and September, with success being
determined by one or more visits by an AA inspector to an hotel or

To discover more top restaurants go to

About the restaurants: 4 Rosettes

The Dining Room, Whatley Manor, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

Luxury spa hotel cooking at Whatley Manor

A feeling of
anticipation builds as the gated entrance opens into Whatley Manor’s
cobbled courtyards of honeystone Cotswold buildings – and that’s as it
should be because the Victorian manor house has long sat in the
top flight of the UK’s country house hotels. The Dining Room is rightly
at the heart of the Whatley experience, an understated modern space,
with cream walls, bare floors and a generously spaced tables. Niall
Keating leads the kitchen team here and his refined
contemporary cooking draws inspiration from Asia and France – this is
serious food, realized with ambition, confidence and panache. Delivered
via a 12-course tasting menu, including a vegetarian version, phenomenal
precision and flavours are there from the
off in lobster custard and meaty chicken broth pointed up with caviar,
then the umami explosion of raw oyster with seaweed mignonette dressing.
Produce is, naturally, as good as you can get, and flavours and
textures come pin sharp, whether it’s a delicate
composition of salmon with turnip, ham and caviar, or the big, bold hit
of pigeon with kohlrabi, spiced date purée and horseradish. A barrage
of desserts offers ideas such as matcha with yoghurt and milk crisp, and
wine flights of revelatory pairings line
up to enhance the whole experience further.

Old Downton Lodge, Ludlow, Shropshire

Creative cuisine in an idyllic Shropshire hideaway

A short drive from foodie Ludlow, Old
Downton Lodge is a rural idyll overlooking the Welsh Marches hills.
Originally a farmhouse and cider mill, the country-chic restaurant with
rooms comprises a fascinating cluster of buildings – medieval,
half-timbered, Georgian – around a courtyard filled with herbs and
flowers. Dating from Norman times, the restaurant has the feel of a
medieval great hall with its stone walls, tapestry and chandelier.
Dinner takes the form of daily-changing six- and nine-course,
menus or a three-course market menu, all built on local, home-grown and
foraged produce of the highest order. Head chef Karl Martin’s cooking
is defined by its inherent simplicity, precision and intuitive balance,
kicking off with a combo of cauliflower, onion
and Parmesan of remarkable depth to pave the way for Wagyu beef boosted
with blue cheese, broccoli and walnut. These are highly original
compositions where everything is there for a good reason: main courses
see lobster counterpointed with cherry tomato fondue,
caviar and Thai basil, then a superlative pork medallion is matched
with braised gem lettuce, winberries and peas. The results are
impressive all the way through to a thought-provoking desserts of
Muscovado mousse with blueberries, peanut and sorrel, and rice
pudding with elderflower, strawberry and tarragon.

Roganic, London W1

Inspirational ideas from a modern master

original pop-up Roganic was such a barnstorming success that Simon
Rogan came back to Marylebone with a more permanent set-up in 2018, and
the place is now firmly established as a go-to venue for foodies. The
incarnation occupies a spartan space of bronze and white textured
concrete walls, linen-clothed tables and design-classic chairs. As in
Rogan’s other ventures, the kitchen is tuned in to nature, and its
stunning ingredients – some sourced from his own Lake
District farm – are delivered by head chef Oli Marlow and his team in
highly technical, precisely engineered miniatures. Tasting menu fans are
in for a small-plate cavalcade of eight or 12 courses, but if you’re
not in for the long haul, the four-course set
lunch is a steal, and the inspired cooking driven by flavour, freshness
and balance. Taking the budget route, things get going with a blue
cheese croquette supported by black garlic, cubes of sea trout and a
tomato juice of remarkable purity. Next up, duck
comes three ways, the breast timed to perfection and served with
cauliflower purée, pear and raspberry, braised leg matched with cabbage,
and seared duck hearts highlighted with prune chutney and potato
mousse. To finish, there’s a sublime fig ice cream with
sorrel crisps and snow.

3 Rosettes

Alchemilla,Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

Organic space for innovative tasting menus

brick vaulted ceilings with big skylights, and a feature wall of vivid
green moss set the scene in this high-flying newcomer to Nottingham’s
flourishing restaurant scene. Brought to life from a long-derelict
inn – much of the renovation work done by the chef, Alex Bond, himself –
Alchemilla feels like an enveloping organic space with its simple
wooden tables and open kitchen. Expect of-the-moment cookery that, while
not remotely vegetarian, shifts attention more
squarely onto the vegetable elements within tasting menus bristling
with on-trend ingredients in intriguing combinations. Tender squid
strips, hen of the woods mushrooms, buttermilk and black garlic add up
to a playful take on carbonara, while grain risotto
comes dressed in three-year-old Parmesan and truffle. A main meat dish
partners spot-on venison with quince and puréed pumpkin. Striking
desserts continue the innovative mood, matching Peruvian marigold sorbet
with apple granita and espuma, and tangy cultured

Allium at Askham Hall, Askham, Cumbria

Seasonal cooking in grand country house hotel

the fringes of the Lake District in splendid Cumbrian countryside,
Askham dates from the 14th century and is intimate enough to style
itself a restaurant with rooms. The Allium restaurant is the most recent
and the kitchen takes a fiercely seasonal view of things, working in
harmony with materials reared and grown in the kitchen gardens and the
farms within the estate. Expect modern food that is home-grown,
certainly, but far from home-spun: texture, flavour
and visual appeal combine in style in a  starter of crab with lovage,
blackcurrant and garden herbs accessorized with a wafer-thin sourdough
and squid ink lattice, followed by spiced salt-aged Goosnargh duck
breast offset with celeriac, beetroot, plum and
a duck fat waffle. Dessert is an intriguing confection balancing the
sweet and savoury notes of buttermilk pannacota with apple sorrel and
blackberries. Punching well above its weight, the remarkable wine list
is the icing on the cake.

Cornerstone by Chef Tom Brown

London, E9

Northeast London’s destination for seafood

A highly-talented
young chef with an impressive CV choosing edgy Hackney Wick for their
first solo venture might sound a little left-field, but Tom Brown (a
Nathan Outlaw protégé and previous head chef of Outlaws at the
Capital) has done exactly this, a fact that only makes Cornerstone all
the more fascinating. This new seafood joint is making big waves. The
vibe is super cool, light and relaxed; a handsome monochrome, industrial
look with retro bow-back chairs and black
tabletops and dominant central-hub kitchen. Confidently exposed,
Brown’s team turns out dazzling seafood sharing-plates in the simple but
brilliantly executed genre, backed by standout ingredients, flavour and
balance. Take a sensational opener of pickled
oyster served with celery, dill and subtle kick of horseradish,
followed perhaps by headlining whole, sparkling-fresh John Dory (on the
bone), again simply delivered with a silky roast chicken butter sauce.
Round-off proceedings with a classy dark chocolate
fondant, orange and whiskey. Bubbly, informed service hits a high note

The Cross at Kenilworth, Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Modern British dining in revamped inn

This whitewashed 19th-century
inn has had a new lease of life under the auspices of regional
big-hitter Andreas Antona. Tasteful modern refurbishment makes the most
of its beams and exposed brickwork, with
warm tones, dark wood and polished tables entirely in tune with the
pubby mood. The cooking has its roots in classic European ideas and
delivers a touch of modern refinement whilst not turning its nose up at
steak and chips with onion rings on the same menu. 
A big-hitting opener partners crispy duck egg with beer-cured ham,
caramelized celeriac, intense cep purée and a rich and glossy chicken jus. Next up, a piggy plateful of pork belly, tender cheek and a croquette
of head meat is helped along by crackling, smoked onion, salted apple purée, sage jus and braised barley, while caramelized white chocolate sauce poured into hazelnut praline soufflé
alongside blood orange ice cream provides a final flourish.

etch. by Steven Edwards, Brighton, East Sussex

Exciting on-trend cooking in a vibrant hot-spot

The man leading the young team in this exciting new-generation Brit eatery is a former BBC
MasterChef: The Professionals winner, and since he set up shop at
the western end of Hove’s main drag in 2017, the cooking has really
gathered momentum. The space is cool with its midnight-blue walls,
brass-edged tables and open kitchen adding to a buzzy
air of all-round vitality. Monthly-changing set menus of five, seven or
nine courses have their heart in Sussex produce, and, the palate primed
with an umami hit from Marmite brioche with seaweed butter, creative
and intricately detailed combos score hit after
hit, among them sea bass with cauliflower in various incarnations,
apple, capers and shrimps, then outstanding South Downs smoked venison
loin, with a crisp samosa of haunch, plus pickled, roasted and puréed
squash. As for sweet ideas, cranberry Bakewell tart
is matched with cinnamon ice cream, cranberry gel and poached and puréed pear.

Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent

Highly skillful and inventive creations

The 1930s country
boozer with a terrace and garden looking over the River Stour was
begging for a makeover, and that’s just what it got when high-flying
young chef-patron Dan Smith took the helm in 2018 and immediately
turned the place into a foodie destination. The updated stripped-back
style looks the part without detracting from the period charm of its
oak-panelled dining room, cosy open fires and 1930s-vintage bar. Smith’s
cooking is firmly in the new-wave modern British
camp, allying sharp technique with intriguing combinations of
first-class materials. Spitfire ale sourdough and rye bread with smoked
pork fat and braised onions is a storming start, before poached
Whitstable oysters that come pointed up with diced apple,
caviar and light creamy sauce. Main-course venison of buttery
tenderness is served as fillet and confit with celeriac, damson, smoked
bone marrow and a full-throttle jus. Dessert takes a more mainstream
route, matching baked St Clements cheesecake with Cointreau

John’s House, Mountsorrel, Leicestershire

Farm to plate cooking in a farmhouse

John Duffin has
food in his DNA: after working up an impressive CV in some of London’s
stellar kitchens, he returned to his roots by opening his own restaurant
on the family farm where he grew up. Bare beams and brick
walls, wooden floors and tables all add up to a rustic feel, but think
again if you’re expecting food in a similar vein. Sure, Duffin is
committed to a ‘farm to plate’ philosophy – much of the produce comes
from his family’s land, after all – but the cooking
is ambitious, precise and full of contemporary verve. Marinated
heritage tomatoes bursting with flavour are nimbly partnered with almond
gazpacho and fresh mint, while main-course pork belly comes with the
balanced flavours of sweetcorn purée,
hen of the woods mushrooms and gremolata. A clever dessert of meringue
encasing yuzu curd alongside elderflower sorbet and white chocolate
rounds things off nicely.

Launceston Place, London, W8

Exciting modern cooking in genteel Kensington

There’s no obvious
clue that the well-groomed Georgian townhouse on the corner of a leafy
little residential Kensington street is anything more than just another
smart-neighbourhood eatery, but gastronomes know that this
is a destination worth seeking out. The interior design is certainly in
keeping with the postcode, with the series of spaces done out in shades
of grey with splashes of colour coming from the modern artworks on the
walls. Light, modern cooking, courtesy of
the talented young chef, Ben Murphy, delivers clever combinations of
texture and bold flavour, all deftly engineered with invention and flair
and dressed-to-thrill presentation. Roast celeriac stars in an
impressive opener alongside a gutsy vegetable ragout
ramped up with truffle, mint oil and emulsion, and Parmesan. Next up,
superlative halibut shines in the company of grelot onion, potato
terrine and a potent jus. To finish, pear in various forms is matched
with maple mousse and crunchy pecan feuilletine.

Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire

Refined cooking in the Cotswolds

Standing proud among Upper Slaughter’s
glorious honey-coloured Cotswold stone buildings, Lords of the Manor is
a former rectory dating from the 17th century that backs on to eight
acres of green and pleasant grounds.
The interior has the best of both worlds: original features and chic
contemporary furnishings. Making the most of the garden views, the classy look of the dining room makes a relaxed setting for modern cooking that
combines elements of French classicism with more contemporary, ingredients-led ideas. Orkney scallop tartare with Granny Smith apple and fennel-infused crème
fraiche opens with impressive
clarity and balance, while precisely timed Anjou pigeon with salt-baked
beetroot, chard, and fig and black pudding condiment represents the
more robust end of the spectrum. The same balance and purity of flavours
is on display again when it comes to dessert,
with malted milk tart with stem ginger and orange rising to the

The Methuen Arms, Corsham, Wiltshire

Destination restaurant in a Georgian inn

In 1805, the former
Red Lion took the Methuen family’s name when it was rebuilt in Bath
stone with three storeys and a fine portico. The period character looms
large within thanks to elm floorboards, flagstones, rugs,
log fires and walls hung with local prints and etchings, and there’s a
real energy about the place these days, particularly in the kitchen
where Leigh Evans delivers modern British food that satisfies on all
levels with its clearly defined, confident flavours
and thoughtful textural interplay. The finest local produce, including
goodies from the kitchen garden, underpin it all. A feisty starter
unites lamb belly and sweetbreads with artichokes, hazelnut, gem lettuce
and mint, while main course sees a superlative
slab of halibut alongside the forthright flavours of girolles,
parsnips, braised beef and truffle mash. Vivacious flavours continue
through to a dessert of burnt passionfruit cream with mango salsa, crisp
coconut and coconut ice cream.

Pétrus,London, SW1

Immaculate modern French cooking from the Ramsay stable

Gordon Ramsay in Royal Hospital Road may well be the flagship of Mr
Ramsay’s empire, but Pétrus runs it a very close second when it comes to
delivering dynamic modern French food. The dining room is a
space with hues of copper, beige, silver, and splashes of claret red as
a nod to the namesake wine, and well-spaced tables dressed up for the
business of fine dining around a centrepiece walk-in glass wine room
bristling with starry vintages. Now headed up
by Russell Bateman, the kitchen interprets the Ramsay style
confidently, with classic techniques and combinations rather than
novelty to the fore, as in the roast veal sweetbreads that combine with
castelfranco radicchio, almond, lemon and truffle in a stunning
opener. Next up, superb Cornish monkfish is counterpointed by squash,
chanterelle and ginger. To finish, a quenelle of roast hazelnut ice
cream is slotted into a masterful praline soufflé at the table.

Rothay Manor Hotel & Fine Dining,Ambleside, Cumbria

Refined Lakeland hotel with a loyal clientele

by a Liverpool shipping merchant in 1823, many of Rothay’s Regency
features are still much in evidence. The handsome whitewashed pile is a
great example of a traditional Lake District country-house hotel,
in attractive landscaped gardens a short walk from honeypot Ambleside.
New owners have raised the bar in recent years, not least in the
restaurant, where a gently contemporary look lines up with adventurous
modern country house cooking based on splendid local
produce. Nicely timed pigeon opens proceedings, balanced with the
sharpness of pickled beetroot, as well as liquorice and hazelnuts.
Following that, a fine piece of brill has the added punch of chicken
wings, mushrooms, cabbage and shaved truffle, while local
lamb might appear as loin, rib and sweetbreads alongside root
vegetables, sea buckthorn and cime di rapa greens. The final flourish
comes in the form of a rhubarb workout – poached, jelly, crisps, crumb –
with sheep’s milk, hibiscus and malt.

The Salutation,Sandwich, Kent

Refined contemporary cooking in Victorian splendour

of Victoriana will no doubt be intrigued to learn that this handsome
country house was once home to the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Ensconced in glorious gardens, the interiors are restored to their full
glory and the cooking is a perfect fit with the contemporary boutique
country house mood. Chef Shane Hughes is well versed in modern culinary
trends and deploys applies honed techniques to well-sourced materials in
a starter of seared hand-dived scallops with
a galette of crispy rabbit and mozzarella pointed up with rabbit jelly,
cherry tomato and a tarragon and sweet mustard dressing. Main courses
deliver neat spins on intuitive combinations, as in a slow-cooked duck
leg and spiced honey-glazed breast with carrot
bok choi and ginger cream sauce. For pudding, baked American cheesecake
rich enough for its own Swiss bank account comes with bourbon-marinated
Kentish cherries, peanut butter ice cream and cherry

Stem,London, W1

Of-the-moment British cooking in a Mayfair townhouse

Mark Jarvis (of
Anglo and Neo Bistro fame) has picked a handsome Mayfair townhouse just
off Regents Street for his third venture. Inside, it puts on a clean
modern style, with deep purple banquettes and copper pendant
lights set against stark white walls, and good-natured, knowledgeable
staff contributing to the relaxed atmosphere. Jarvis is a dab hand at
crafting bang up-to-date food that’s defined by its remarkable clarity
of flavour and attention to detail. Set lunch
is a snip, otherwise settle in for the carte or taster menu. Sound
materials are carefully handled in a simple salad of heirloom tomatoes
raised to a higher plane by a vibrant seaweed dressing and buttermilk,
followed by an immaculately handled piece of translucent
cod given depth by onion oil and balanced by fresh peas and charred
lettuce. For pudding, the house take on Eton mess is a deconstructed
plateful of meringue shards concealing strawberry sorbet, mint and
velvety vanilla cream.

Stocks Hotel,Sark, Channel Islands

Traditional dishes showcasing local produce

Tucked away in a tranquil and
picturesque valley – but then again just about everywhere on Sark is
quiet and picturesque – Stocks is a smart hotel built around a Georgian
farmhouse. It’s done out in a traditional manner, and that goes for
the fine-dining restaurant, too. With its opulent
drapes and white tablecloths, the panelled dining room provides a
traditional and formal setting for technically adept cooking that pays
its dues to modern ideas and is also – thanks to a
kitchen has close links with local fishermen and farms – solidly
ingredient driven. Citrus-cured monkfish with gin-infused cucumber,
borage and yoghurt is a fresh and vivid starter, and the bar stays high
for a dish of Guernsey turbot with braised chicken
wings, baby gem, Jerusalem artichoke and chicken jus. A perfectly risen
coconut soufflé partnered with coconut sorbet and a zippy pineapple and chilli salsa is proof that desserts are a major strength too.

The Wilderness, Birmingham, West Midlands

Playful modern cooking in a wilderness environment

down an alleyway in the jewellery quarter, The Wilderness is an
atmospheric venue with skylight panels and an open kitchen, decked with
foliage to bring a sense of sylvan repose to city eating. Top-class
produce supplemented by foraged ingredients and seasonal goodies from
their own allotment provide the building-blocks and underpinning them is
a sharp grasp of flavour and sound technique that delivers playful,
inspired modern cooking. A dramatic opener of
venison tartare with beetroot purée,
parsley shoots, sweet shallot and the pungency of wasabi emulsion paves
the way for a sharply executed dish of tempura monkfish with a hint of
garlic and chilli and a
light and fresh accompaniment of sorrel, elderflower emulsion, gherkin
and pickled pickled parsnip powder. Desserts experiment with
multi-layered, often savoury flavours, as in the miso ice cream matched
with sesame caramelized filo pastry, white wine-infused
apple balls and richly buttery salted caramel.

from Fine Dining Guide