The Good Food Guide introduces new 'simple and transparent' scoring system

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

The Good Food Guide is overhauling its scoring system in favour of a 'simplified and modernised' one, which it says will mark a departure 'from heralding fine dining as the pinnacle of achievement and promote a more democratic and egalitarian assessment of good food in Britain'

Whereas in past publications of the guide, restaurants were given a score out of 10, they will now be given a rating of good, very good, exceptional or world class, on the basis of four metrics: uniqueness, deliciousness, warmth and strength of recommendation. 

An overall rating will only ever be as high as the lowest rating across all categories, with a familiar pricing index of £, ££, £££, or ££££. 

Reflecting all of Britain's Good Food

The Good Food Guide was purchased by CODE Hospitality last year after Waitrose & Partners decided to discontinue its publication, which it had done since it bought the guide from consumer review firm Which? in 2013.

At the time, publisher Adam Hyman said the company had "major expansion plans" in the works, which would nonetheless keep to the guide's ethos of visiting restaurants anonymously, with bills fully paid for by the company.

The system will now be changed, he explained, because "as a numerically challenged youngster, the idea of getting one out of ten reminds me of my maths scores and implies a fail. Yet getting such a score in the old version of the guide qualified as a pass and was a positive thing. This structure didn’t sit right with me.

"Our aim is to keep the guide going for another 70 years, so looking at how restaurants are judged is of the utmost importance. Earlier this year, we met with our expert inspectors and agreed it was time for an overhaul. The result was a simplified and modernised scoring system.

"Our changes mark a departure from heralding fine dining as the pinnacle of achievement and promote a more democratic and egalitarian assessment of good food in Great Britain. There’s no reason a beach hut, fish and chip shop or a local cafe can’t qualify, so long as they meet the criteria.”

A detailed breakdown of the scoring system can be viewed here.

The Good Food Guide, a history

The Good Food Guide is one of a handful of independent restaurant guides in the UK, shining a light on praiseworthy establishments with the aim of raising the standards of British Gastronomy. 

It was first published in 1951 by Raymond Postgate, an author, journalist, editor and gourmet whose love for food was said to be outdone only by his contempt for poor catering standards across the UK. He founded the Good Food Club in 1949, and the first guide included approximately 600 entries. In 2020, it included more than 1,200.

Raymond wrote a column on the poor state of British gastronomy for 'Lilliput' magazine, in which he invited readers to send him reports on dining outlets throughout the UK, which he then collated and published.

The response was overwhelming, and Postgate's notional "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Food", as he had called it, developed into the Good Food Guide. The guide was devoid of advertisements and relied on volunteers to visit and report on UK restaurants.

As well as striving to democratise the experience of eating out, Postgate sought to demystify the world of wine, and his influence is said to have been massive in making Britain an enthusiastic wine-drinking nation.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 28th April 2022

The Good Food Guide introduces new 'simple and transparent' scoring system