The Good Food Guide: our restaurant scoring system explained
Published 03 May 2024

Trusting to hearsay can prove very costly these days. A restaurant’s sound reputation, once established, may cling on undeserved through years of decline. Guiding to the best is the purpose of this new scoring system – but so is protection from the second rate.

In a major departure from the previous cooking score of 1-10, entries to The Good Food Guide are now ranked from 'Local Gem' to ‘Good’, ‘Very Good’, ‘Exceptional’ and ‘World Class’. The scoring takes in an establishment's uniqueness, its warmth, the deliciousness of the cooking and how strongly it can be recommended.

Looking beyond just the technical abilities of a kitchen team moves away from heralding fine dining as the pinnacle of achievement and offers a broader perspective on what it means to eat out well in Britain today.


Local Gems sit happily on your doorstep, offering value for money and good, freshly cooked food. It might be a neighbourhood bistro or an excellent café, bakery or fish and chip shop.

Good represents a reliable combination of good food (showing sound technical skills and good quality ingredients), warm service, and a pleasant atmosphere. These restaurants will be the best in the locality, definitely worth seeking out if you are nearby. At their best they act as the hub of the local food economy, establishing a reputation for local produce.

Very Good marks a high level of ambition and individuality. From attention to the smallest detail, via accurately cooked and vibrant dishes and excellent service, to a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, these will be the best places to eat in the county or region.

Exceptional equals cooking that has reached the pinnacle of achievement, making it a highly memorable experience for the diner. The whole restaurant will be operating at the highest level: not only perfect dishes, showing faultless technique at every service, but also superb service, a high level of comfort, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. These are the best places to eat in the country.

World Class. Once derided for its lack of food culture, 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 a few chefs and restaurants operating at this level. The best of the best.


Guide entries ranked from 'Good' to 'World Class' are judged on combinations of the four factors below. These criteria - which are scored individually and influence the overall score - offer readers a comprehensive picture of what to expect when dining out.

How unique is the establishment in the context of its location?
How special does it feel to be there?
Does it stand out in the local area or regionally, for its history, design, location, value?

How delicious is the food?
Is this good, steady cooking of well-sourced ingredients that delivers food good enough to eat regularly?
Is it an exciting proposition? Impeccable ingredients cooked with flair and imagination, from a kitchen at the start of a journey towards the top.
A restaurant scoring 'Exceptional' for deliciousness will be close to or at the top of its game with impressive artistry and individuality, rarely disappointing in any department.

How warm is the service and the hospitality in general? How memorable is the experience?
Is the dining room efficiently run by staff who are attentive and responsive?
Does service radiate confidence from start to finish?
Do staff contribute substantially to the atmosphere – to a warm and convivial buzz?
A restaurant scoring 'Exceptional' for warmth will be succeeding at every level, with professional, richly satisfying service and wonderful ambiance.

Strength of recommendation
How enthusiastically and widely would you recommend the establishment?
Does it represent value for money (whatever the cost)?
Did you enjoy eating here? Was the combination of food, service and atmosphere of a sufficiently high standard to make you want to return?

Ready to try your hand at scoring a recently visited restaurant? Submit your feedback here.