AA Ireland has announced that an impressive 17 Irish restaurants were newly awarded AA Rosette Awards during the 2011 inspection season in celebration of culinary excellence. Of further triumph for the industry and a barometer of the quality of restaurants available in Ireland today, this figure represents a 50% increase on the 2010 season when just 11 of the highly esteemed awards were newly attained.
AA Rosette Awards are assessed as part of an unannounced overnight inspection of a hotel or guesthouse and the 17 new recipients are among just 109 properties in Ireland to currently hold the respected accolade. Since 1956, AA Inspectors have been awarding AA Rosettes which today are graded on a scale of 1 – 5.
“What our inspectors really look for are restaurant kitchens that surpass expectation and standout from others within their field whether a 5 star hotel or family run guesthouse.” Says Conor Faughnan, Director of Policy AA Ireland. “17 new Rosette Awards is a tremendous result for 2011 and really demonstrates the ongoing passion and commitment to first rate cuisine in this country.”
Early bird menus now “old hat”
One of the key trends of 2011 that AA Hotel Inspectors noted is that the more restrictive early bird menus have in many establishments become “old hat” with a large number of restaurateurs developing excellent value options often on offer right throughout week day evenings and up to 7pm on weekends.
From their own back yard philosophy
Increased competition and the development of “dining destination” establishment during 2011 also saw a greater emphasis placed on the provenance of the ingredients being used in menus according to AA Hotel Inspectors. They state that chefs are going to greater lengths to source food products from their own area or region, in many cases opting for organic. Inspectors also report that a number of establishment have impressively developed their own kitchen gardens to ensure the freshest possible ingredients.
15 New Winners of 1 AA Rosette
At 1 AA Rosette level, AA Inspectors are looking for good quality ingredients that are cooked with care and understanding. In 2011, AA Inspectors who are extremely exacting in their inspections awarded 15 properties the accolade of 1 AA Rosette.
Among the properties to newly attain this status are:
The Lime Tree Restaurant, Springfort Hall Hotel, Mallow, Co. Cork led by Chef Bryan Mc Carthy received the accolade of 1 AA Rosette on the basis of their good attention to detail and creative combinations used throughout their modern Irish style of cookery. Inspectors singled out the use of their own smokery and lesser known cuts as interesting features of their flavoursome and popular menu.
Rolf’s Country House and Restaurant, Baltimore, Co. Cork led by Chef, Johannes Haffner. At this charming converted farm house, the provenance of the ingredients used throughout their modern European style of cookery was a major factor in their achievement of one AA Rosette. Much of the ingredients used by this family run business are home-grown, organic and locally produced while pastries, desserts and breads are all home made.
Gorman’s Clifftop House and Restaurant, Ballydavid, Dingle, Co. Kerry, led by owner and Head Chef Vincent Gorman was deservedly awarded two prestigious AA Awards during 2011; namely AA Guest Accommodation of the Year and one AA Rosette for their delicious Irish cuisine. To specifically achieve 1 AA Rosette standard, Gorman’s impressed with their consistency of cookery with its true flavours and use of only the best of local ingredients which include fish landed locally and organic vegetables and herbs grown on site.
Inch House Country House and Restaurant, Thurles, Co. Tipperary led by Chef John Barry. To attain a 1 AA Rosette award, the country house style menu at Inch House, impressed with its accurate cookery and dedication to prime quality ingredients which as a firm house rule, must be either local, organic or from an artisan producer.
McLaughlin’s Restaurant at The Carlton Castletroy Hotel, Limerick led by Chef David Geoghegan secured its place among Ireland’s 1 AA Rosette restaurants on the basis of the great seasonality on their very good value menu among other positive aspects. Their artistic presentation, excellent bakery and handmade ice creams were also duly noted by AA Inspectors.
The O’Connell Restaurant at Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry led by Chef Martin McKeever was awarded 1 AA Rosette in recognition of the clear flavours and excellent quality of ingredients evident right throughout their delicious country house style menu.
The Islands Restaurant at Hotel Westport, Westport, Co. Mayo led by Chef, Stephen Fitzmaurice. A number of important criteria including good ingredients, careful preparation, accurate cookery and understanding of seasonality deservedly elevated The Islands Restaurant to one AA Rosette standard during 2011.
West Restaurant at the Twelve, Barna, Co. Galway led by Chef Martin O’ Donnell. Here the awarding of 1 AA Rosette acknowledges the restaurant’s “true to region, true to season” philosophy. AA Inspectors were complimentary of great use of regionally sourced and in-season produce used throughout their well compiled menu.
The Classiebawn Restaurant at Radisson Blu Hotel, Sligo led by Chef Joe Shannon was awarded 1 AA Rosette in recognition of their accurate cookery of quality local produce such as seafood, beef and lamb. Joe’s local knowledge comes to the fore in sourcing the finest seafood and lamb that the west of Ireland produces.
The Rock Pool Restaurant at the Carlton Hotel Kinsale, Co. Cork achieved the accolade of 1 AA rosette in no small part due to the importance it places on quality local produce and relatively simple cookery which ensure the natural flavours of the main ingredients are not lost. A hot rock cookery concept also adds a bit of theatre.
Touzai Restaurant at Crowne Plaza Northwood, Santry, Dublin led by Chef Logan Irwin. To attain 1 AA Rosette, Touzai Restaurant impressed with solid cookery, good strong flavours, interesting combinations, contemporary presentation and an excellent atmosphere. AA Inspectors also commented on the true authenticity of certain dishes given their multinational team.
Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown House, Slane, Co. Meath led by Chef Richard Lackeys was awarded 1 AA Rosette in recognition to their commitment to the use of the freshest ingredients including produce from their own walled gardens and flock of hens throughout their modern Irish cuisine.
The Restaurant at Ghan House, Carlingford, Co. Louth led by Chef Robert Reid received 1 AA Rosette in celebration of their great use of local and artisan produce, good technical skills and their admirable “everything from scratch” practice which includes ice creams, breads, chutneys and home grown vegetables and herbs.
Wilde the Restaurant at the Westbury Hotel, Dublin led by Chef John Nagle deservedly attained 1 AA Rosette standard on the basis of their skilful cookery, emphasis on carefully selected artisan seasonal produce and imaginative presentation.
‘The Dining Room at The Castle’, Castle Leslie Estate, Glasslough, Co Monaghan led by Chef, Andrew Bradley. To attain one AA Rosette standard, ‘The Dining Room at The Castle’ impressed with the use of seasonal ingredients and well judged and flavoursome dishes. Autumn menus which feature game and estate produce particularly standout and inspectors describe the overall dining experience as “country house cooking at its best.”
New winner of 2 AA Rosettes
Additional technical skill in the cookery of food and attention to the selection of ingredients is what sets a Two AA Rosette award apart from others. The guest of a 2 AA Rosette restaurant can also expect some additional dishes to be presented with the Chef’s compliments, often a small version of a dish that reflects the skill of the kitchen, and that prepares the palate for the meal to come.
The Cellar Restaurant at The Merrion Hotel, Dublin led by Chef Ed Cooney was the only restaurant in Ireland to newly attain 2 AA Rosettes during 2011. To raise their game on previous years, greater emphasis was and continues to be placed on the sourcing of local ingredients and the promotion of indigenous ingredients is a passion of Chef Cooney’s. A stylish presentation of dishes was also duly acknowledged.
1 New Winner of 3 AA Rosettes
Three AA Rosette restaurants produce cuisine at a standard that demands recognition throughout the industry. Cookery at this level requires consistent judgment of flavour combinations, together with sympathetic treatment of highest quality ingredients.
Just one restaurant raised the bar significantly enough to achieve this highly prestigious accolade in 2011:
The House Restaurant at The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford led by Chef Martijn Kajuiter. At this celebrated gourmet destination, ingredients are sourced with evangelical pride and AA Inspectors describe the highly technical and skilled cookery as being “out on its own.” Great emphasis is placed on the sourcing of naturally grown fruits with lots of foraging of the seashore. “Working with seasonal products from Irish sea and soil” is the resounding philosophy at The House Restaurant.
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