Judging process

The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards are the results of the votes of 150 industry experts, spread across all regions of the UK. You cannot, therefore, enter the awards. The academy of voters is made up of chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and critics and other food experts and gastronomes.

Each voter casts seven votes, based on their best restaurant experiences over the previous 12 months. They must vote for some restaurants outside of their ‘home’ region, as well as a number within it and they list their votes in order of preference. Other than that, there are no set criteria – aside from the proviso that they have eaten in the restaurants for which they vote during the period in question.

Therefore, any type of restaurant in any UK location, serving any cuisine in any style is potentially eligible for inclusion in the list. Restaurant magazine simply add up the votes to create the list. In the event of a tied number of votes, the preference ‘weighting’ comes into play.

The majority of individual awards – including the National Restaurant of the Year – are drawn from restaurants’ positioning on the resultant list. Four awards – Best Wine List, Best Front of House, Best Cocktail List and Lifetime Achievement – are voted for separately by the same academy of experts. The One To Watch Award are granted at the discretion of Restaurant magazine. The Sustainable Restaurant Award is presented to the restaurant on the list that achieves the highest score in the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s rating.

We review the judging system – and update our voting academy – on an annual basis. While we recognise it is never going to be beyond criticism, we remain confident that the National Restaurant Awards provides a credible annual snapshot of the UK restaurant scene and celebrates the success and skills of chefs and restaurateurs.