The Good Food Guide 2008 Paperback – 18 Sep 2007
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The Latin phrase sui generis means unique, of its own kind -- and that's exactly what The Good Food Guide is. This 2008 edition of the guide to the best restaurants in the UK reviewed by Which magazine remains, quite simply, the bible for those seeking independent expert opinion on where to dine. What makes the guide particularly invaluable is the fact that all the inspections of restaurants herein are anonymous, and the reviewers pay for every meal they review. GFG turns its face against advertising, sponsorship or other incentives, and absolutely guarantees the most dispassionate and balanced view of everything from the grandest to the most modest restaurant. And of how many other guides can one say that?
This 50th edition places under its rigorous eye over 1200 restaurants, stretching from intimate Scottish eateries to much-loved haunts on the Cornish coast. It goes without saying that we are provided with all the usual information on what you can expect to pay in most restaurants (particularly valuable when you can pay an arm and a leg in some restaurants these days), but there are also extensive sections on wine lists, menus, chefs and new openings. The latter two categories, of course, mean that the guide has to have a new edition each year, as every opening is accompanied by a closing somewhere else. What comes across most here, though, is the sheer enthusiasm for some of the best restaurants in Britain. Pick it up and you won't put it down in a hurry. --Barry Forshaw
Top customer reviews
London restaurants still take up the chunk of the book, unfairly perhaps, but that is the nature of these things - most people who go to posh restaurants and write reviews of them live in the south east. What a dismal reflection on our 'second city', Birmingham, that it has just five restaurants worthy of mention! The London section is split into different areas - central, Victoria etc, which can be slightly confusing if you're not sure where you are. (I know this sounds silly, but for many visitors this is the case.)
Returning this year is the list of contributors (how could they think to leave them out last year?), notably thanked in 'this book could not exist' terms. Other interesting points: the Guide doesn't deem it worthy to even mention that Britain is now completely non-smoking, which I found surprising. 'Readers' choice' restaurants have been introduced, which on top of the 'Also Recommended' places seems excessive. (I hope this isn't the sign of more dumbing down to come!) Also dropped is the list of 'London restaurants by cuisine', a shame, as it was extremely helpful. Plus, personally speaking I'd like to see a list every year of eateries that have dropped out since the previous edition, and why (closure, drop in standards etc).
As usual, the rating for a main section restaurants starts at 1/10, and the guide again tries to stress that this is a considerable achievement. It's certainly true that many of those places can be darn expensive. No one gets 10/10 - Gordon Ramsay did a few years back - but a few get 9, including The Fat Duck. Just reading reviews of venues like this makes the mouth water. Those of us on lower budgets can but dream and remain content with ticking off the more moderately priced venues.
Lastly, the shape and cover of the Guide look good and underline its authority. It remains one of the most carefully researched, meticulously proofed guide books available.
For starters there is no index for suburbs / boroughs. There is also no index for cuisine types. So if you are looking for a specific cuisine anywhere in London for instance, you have to page through 130 pages and go through each and every entry. An absolute disaster.
There are about 4 pages of London maps in the book which proved pretty useless as they don't flow into eachother. They are just random segments with no way of telling where they are in London. This is fine for someone that knows London, but not everyone does.
Hopefully these flaws can be ironed out in the next release. But if it's taken them this long to get to this stage, I won't hold my breath.
I'm giving this book a 2 star because even though there is a lot of info, it's an absolute pain to use. And I already found incorrect opening times on our first restaurant.
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