Last week saw the publication of the 28th edition of the renowned AA Restaurant Guide. Nick Mosley talks to some of the Sussex restaurants that made this year’s cut.
Featuring over 1700 restaurants from across the UK and Ireland, The AA Restaurant Guide is one of the most respected hospitality review schemes in the country with restaurants being awarded between one and five Rosettes depending on the quality and skill of the cooking.
Success or failure in achieving Rosettes is based on one or more visits by an AA inspector. Essentially the visit is a snapshot, whereby the entire meal is assessed. Rosettes are solely awarded by the AA’s restaurant inspectors and external influences from restaurants or other guides are not taken into account. About 10% of restaurants nationwide are of a standard that is worthy of one Rosette and above.
With 12 Brighton and Hove, 13 East Sussex and 28 West Sussex restaurants featuring in the 2022 guide, leading the pack in the county is Gravetye Manor, which has held 4 Rosettes for a number of years.
Alongside the quality of the food, the Guide singles out Gravetye’s “stylish dining room – an effortlessly stunning space with jawdropping floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the gardens and beautiful grassy-green banquettes to add to the sensation that room and garden are one – is the perfect backdrop for the dynamic, contemporary British cooking”.
Gravetye’s head chef George Blogg is not only one of the consistently best chefs in the south east but also has access to a stunning kitchen garden and local produce from surrounding farms.
“Our walled kitchen garden, created by William Robinson at the turn of the last century, is the driving force behind the inspiration and seasonality of our menus”, said Celine Lesley of Gravetye Manor. “The excellent relationships we have built with our local suppliers and the joint passion for their commitment to animal welfare and top quality produce are crucial to the high standards that we strive for”.
“Being in the guide is recognition of the standards we aim for day in, day out”, continued Celine. “Given how tough the last two years have been in this industry, it means more now than ever before”.
In Brighton and Hove, both chef Duncan Ray’s The Little Fish Market and etch by Steven Edwards received 3 Rosettes.
“For me, every guide brings in different clientele and it’s always good to be featured. There are only two restaurants in Brighton & Hove with 3 AA Rosettes and that is special”, said Steven.
“We want to be award-winning and push harder each year. We would love to get 4 Rosettes and that is the dream at the moment. It gives us something to work towards and is a sign of improvement”.
Also in Brighton, the hugely talented young team at Issac At in Gloucester Street appear in the Guide for a fourth year with 2 Rosettes.
The Guide says: “Local and seasonal is the mantra in this ambitious, pocket-sized outfit in the trendy North Laine quarter – even the wines are from Sussex vineyards. Serving just 20 or so diners from an open kitchen in a stripped-back space, the venue fits the youthful Brighton mood, and the food keeps step with modern trends”.
“The relevance of the AA Restaurant Guide and Michelin guide should never be downplayed”, said Varun Mahatme of Isaac At. “Not only does this give kudos to customers, but also awards like these boost our team morale”.
Over in Worthing, chef Kenny Tutt was also awarded 2 Rosettes, with the Guide saying he clearly meets his aim is “to cook food that makes people smile”.
“We’re really proud of our 2 Rosettes from the AA Restaurant Guide – it’s an accolade that has been around for many years, and that people trust”, said Kenny.
“It’s a fantastic endorsement for our restaurant, and whilst we’re not purely focused on the awards that we can win, there’s no doubt that it’s a great boost for the team when they come through”.
“Hospitality is a hard business, particularly over the last 18 months or so, so we’re thrilled to have been recognised. Some of my fellow Sussex chefs including Steven Edwards and Michael Bremner are also holders of AA Rosettes, which I love to see too.”
The AA Restaurant Guide 2022 is priced at £16.99 and available now from bookstores.
Guide to AA Rosettes
1 Rosette: Restaurants that achieve standards that stand out in their local area.
2 Rosettes: Excellent restaurants that aim for and achieve higher standards and better consistency. A greater precision is apparent in the cooking, and there will be obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients.
3 Rosettes: Outstanding restaurants that achieve standards that demand recognition well beyond their local area. The cooking is underpinned by the selection and sympathetic treatment of the highest quality ingredients. Timing, seasoning and the judgment of flavour combinations will be consistently excellent.
4 Rosettes: Among the top restaurants in the UK, where the cooking demands national recognition. These restaurants exhibit intense ambition, a passion for excellence, superb technical skills, and remarkable consistency.
5 Rosettes: The pinnacle, where cooking compares with the best in the world. These restaurants have highly individual voices, exhibit breathtaking culinary skills, and set standards to which others aspire to, yet few achieve.
The AA Restaurant Guide Rosettes in Sussex 2022
Brighton & Hove
64 Degrees, Meeting House Lane (2)
Chard, Western Road (1)
Cin Cin, Western Road (1)
The Chilli Pickle, Jubilee Street (1)
Etch by Steven Edwards, Church Road (3)
The Ginger Dog, College Place (1)
The Gingerman Restaurant, Norfolk Square, (2)
Hotel du Vin, Ship Street (1)
Isaac At, Gloucester Street (2)
The Little Fish Market, Upper Market Street (3)
The Salt Room, Kings Road (1)
Terre à Terre, East Street (1)
Deans Place, Alfriston (2)
The Powder Mills Hotel, Battle (2)
The Gallivant, Camber (2)
The Bull, Ditchling (1)
The Mirabelle Restaurant, Eastbourne (1)
Jolly Sportsman, East Chillington (1)
The Anderida Restaurant, Forest Row (1)
Mermaid Inn, Rye (2)
Webbe’s at The Fish Café, Rye (1)
Dale Hill Hotel, Ticehurst (1)
Buxted Park Hotel, Uckfield (2)
Horsted Place, Uckfield (2)
The Wild Mushroom Restaurant, Westfield (2)
The Ginger Fox, Albourne (1)
Amberley Castle, Amberley (3)
The Parsons Table, Arundel (2)
Sea School Restaurant, Bosham (2)
Earl of March, Chichester (1)
Halliday’s, Chichester (2)
Horse and Groom, Chichester (2)
Potager Restaurant, Chichester (2)
Richmond Arms, Chichester (2)
The Ship Restaurant, Chichester (1)
Sofitel London Gatwick, Gatwick Airport (2)
The Goodwood Hotel, Goodwood (2)
The Glass House Restaurant, Hassocks (1)
Restaurant Tristan, Horsham (3)
The Half Moon Inn, Kirdford (2)
The Lickfold Inn, Lickfold (3)
The Halfway Bridge Inn, Lodsworth (1)
The Camellia Restaurant at South Lodge, Lower Beeding (2)
Restaurant Interlude, Leonardslee Gardens (3)
The Chequers Inn, Rowhook (1)
The Crab & Lobster, Sidlesham (2)
Cassons Restaurant, Tangmere (2)
The Horse Guards Inn, Tillington (2)
AG’s Restaurant at Alexander House Hotel, Turners Hill (3)
Reflections at Alexander House Hotel, Turners Hill (2)
Gravetye Manor, West Hoathly (4)
Indigo Seafood & Grill, Worthing (1)
Pitch Restaurant by Kenny Tutt, Worthing (2)