By Daniel Hunter
There have been many changes in the British restaurant world over the past 20 years such as the introduction of ‘pop-up’ restaurants, celebrity chef restaurant chains and more international cuisine but one thing has remained constant, The AA Restaurant Guide. The new 2013 AA Restaurant Guide is the 20th edition of the famous foodies’ bible.
The number of restaurants in the guide has increased somewhat over the 20 years. The first 1992 guide had around 700 “of Britain’s best and most interesting up and coming places to eat” while the 2013 edition has over 2,000 “professionally inspected restaurants, from village inns to smart city eateries".
The introduction of the guide also saw the launch of the new AA Rosette scheme for culinary skills increasing the awards from one to three rosettes up to five rosettes broadening the criteria to encompass a much wider spread of restaurant styles. The original edition had just four five Rosette restaurants which the latest one has nine restaurants achieving the highest grade of five Rosettes.
Only a handful of restaurants have appeared in all 20 AA Restaurant Guides with Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons, being the only chef to have appeared in every edition of the guide with five Rosettes.
The long lasting success of the AA Restaurant Guide is down to the fact that it does not just include the elite restaurants. All restaurants in the guide have from one to five Rosettes allowing a greater element of choice when selecting somewhere to eat.
While the past 20 years has seen many new innovations in restaurants such as wireless payment terminals and wine lists on iPads, there are some things that have not changed in 20 years. These constants include rising cost of mineral water, cover charges, rude customers, ill behaved children and customers who fail to honour their reservations, all of which were noted in the foreword of the very first edition of the guide and are still evident in restaurants today.
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