Early bird menus are old hat, says AA Ireland

Early bird menus on offer in restauarants are being replaced by offers that run for longer periods, according to the AA which 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 per cent 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 one to five.

“What our inspectors really look for are restaurant kitchens that surpass expectation and standout from others within their field whether a five 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.”

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.

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.

The Winners for Connacht were:

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.

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