Egon Ronay, 94, a food critic whose eponymous restaurant guides helped Britain embrace fine dining after years of postwar austerity, died Saturday at his home near the village of Yattendon, west of London, after a short illness.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Mr. Ronay was the son of a prosperous restaurant owner whose business was ruined by World War II and the subsequent Soviet occupation. Mr. Ronay left communist Hungary for Britain in 1946.

He worked as a manager at London restaurants before opening the Marquee, which sought to bring French culinary flair to a country just emerging from years of food rationing.

"You could eat well in London," Mr. Ronay told the Observer newspaper in 2003 about the 1950s, "but in extremely few places."

He began writing about food for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, and in 1957 he produced the first Egon Ronay Guide to British restaurants, modeled on France's Michelin Guides. The annual guides, researched with the help of a team of anonymous reviewers, became immensely popular, and restaurants displayed the blue Egon Ronay label as a seal of approval.

Mr. Ronay also rated eating spots at airports and highway service stations, and acted as a food consultant to a chain of pubs. He said his goal was to raise the quality of dining for everyone, not just the elite. - AP