Just in time for Valentine’s Day celebrations, AAA has unveiled 64 restaurants that have earned the AAA/CAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2016 Five Diamond Award list. This exclusive group represents just 0.2 percent of the more than 30,000 AAA/CAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants. Following rigorous evaluations from AAA’s professional inspectors, the following three restaurants were added as first-time Five Diamond honorees.
Gabriel Kreuther: New York City
AAA Inspector Notes: Chef Gabriel Kreuther leads this modern, yet sophisticated fine-dining restaurant.
A diverse menu that leans on Kreuther's French-Germanic roots includes a signature sturgeon sauerkraut tart, foie gras terrine, and langoustine tartare. Even basic items such as Kugelhoph bread with soft white cheese and chives are astonishing. Much more than a meal, a visit here is a full-blown sensory event full of unexpected twists and turns. The experience provides a kind of culinary magic many aim to achieve, but few accomplish. Passion and artistry are displayed from start to finish.
TÈ: Leola, Pennsylvania
AAA Inspector Notes: This one-of-a-kind dining experience is truly divine. Guests choose from either a five- or nine-course prix fixe menu of inspiring Italian cuisine. Extras that further enhance the experience include a selection of artisanal cheeses from a roving cart, expert wine pairings, and multiple chef accouterments between courses. A highly refined staff pampers guests and assists with their every need while artfully timing each delectable dish for a relaxing and memorable meal.
The Georgian Room: Sea Island, Georgia
AAA Inspector Notes: Diners should prepare for an experience like none other when stepping through the doors of The Georgian Room. Gorgeous antique gold and crystal chandeliers, grand molded stone columns, majestic arches, and a stately fireplace create an impressive backdrop for the equally magnificent menu. A highly trained staff provides unparalleled tableside service and impressive knowledge of New Southern cuisine and world-class wine. The menu changes seasonally and offers freshly sourced wellness selections such as milk-poached organic hen breast with mushroom porridge and farm egg. Save room for the decadent crème brûlée bread pudding soufflé, one of the restaurant’s highly touted dessert offerings.
“Contemporary restaurant enthusiasts are more educated than ever about food trends, preparation techniques and ingredient sourcing, and less interested in formalities such as proper attire and opulent décor. This raises the bar for today’s top chefs who attempt to achieve perfection with each offering. Diners want to learn about unfamiliar ingredients, discuss their selections with wait staff and interact with culinary experts through tastings, tours and chef’s table dining experiences,” says Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings. “At the Five Diamond level, one can expect a broad sensory-based experience including flavor, visual appeal, aroma and texture along with personalized service and ambient, ultra-comfortable surroundings designed to engage and impress even the most experienced patron.”
Of note among the new additions is Georgia’s only Five Diamond hotel and restaurant pairing. Sea Island’s The Georgian Room is located in The Cloister, a new Five Diamond hotel honoree for 2016. The addition of TÈ in Leola marks Pennsylvania’s second Five Diamond restaurant. Additionally, The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Washington, Virginia, remains the longest tenured Five Diamond restaurant, the only one to maintain the coveted status for 28 consecutive years, since 1988.
“Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and a point of great pride for these top restaurants,” Petrone adds. “Five Diamond establishments stand apart by redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and provide memorable experiences.”
Candidates for the rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Using guidelines weighted by member priorities, inspectors meticulously evaluate food quality, guest services and physical attributes to assess the level of competence, refinement and hospitality and assign a rating of One to Five Diamonds.