Food guide ratings -a question of class


World Class pud?

The reincarnated Good Food Guide has revamped the ratings awarded to restsurants by its subscribers. Gone is the old one to 10 scale, in which the lowest score was for "capable cooking with simple combinations and clear flavours". In come four categories: good, very good, exceptional and "world class". I am reminded irrestistibly of dropping into a Hereforshire pub one hot afternoon on a walk that took in places where the Dymock poets lived their bucolic existence on the eve of the First World. Did they please have something to eat. Only pickled eggs, said trhe landlord. A local at the bar confided: "His pickled eggs are world class". It is, in other words, a fairly meaningless accolade. One must assume that subscribers to that publication are relatively well travelled but they would have to be world class globetrotters to make the choice of rating remotely meaningful. In the interests of balance I must at the Guide's justification for its use: "Once derided for its lack of food culture, Great Britain today boasts one of the most eclectic dining scenes in the world. At the very top a few extraordinary chefs are having a seismic impact on British dining. These astonishing restaurants are redefining the profession, pushing the boundaries of what eating in a restaurant is all about. It’s the stuff of bucket lists, the vision and talent drawing not just national but international recognition – especially from chefs world-wide. In any given year, there will only be two or three chefs and restaurants operating at this level. The best of the best." Fair enough - and pedantry aside it's wonderful that the Guide is up and running again aftyer it demise furing the pandemic, albeit currently as a newsletter.

It has been helping foodies avoid disasters for over 70 years. On my bookshelves is a 1957-58 edition (Lobster Florence at Wheeler's for 13s/6p and a bottleof Chablis for 18s). But I'm also reminded of an old story about the Konditorei that opened with the boast "Best Konditorei in Vienna". Another opened a few doors away claiming to be best in Austria", the next two advertised themselves respectively as "best in Europe" and "best in the world". Finally, for this must have been a very long Strasse, a fifth sprang up with the modest clai: "Best Konditorei on this street".