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Jan 19, 2009 05:01 PM

Michelin 09' Leak

Anyone any thoughts or opinions on the result?

I can't believe L'Atelier has been handed a second star can see it only as insult to the restaurants around it. How can it possibly be in the bracket of the sqaure or pied a terre?
I had a very poor meal there in august which would have struggled for one star. Found the food was contrived, confused and lacked continuity throughout the meal.

No second star for L'Enclume in cartmel? I think Tom Aikens has a big year ahead of him if he can stabilise things andif he runs the place smoothly for the year he definitely deserves a second. Had a meal at the Ledbury recently and was very impressed but dont think that is quite hitting two star status yet so maybe am a little surprised to see it listed as rising although it a very impressive place. As for Ramsay I havent eaten there but wouldn't say no to him losing it as I just can't take him seriously anymore.

Everything the same in Dublin is fair enough, no surprises although I think Dax deserves more attention than it gets.

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  1. L'Atelier got it because it ticks all Michelin's boxes, no more, no less.

    I was surprised by a couple of the hangers-on: Vineyard at Stockcross maintaining two stars and the Holiday, sorry, Waterside Inn maintaining three.

    I suspect the starring of St John will cause much discussion. I honestly think Michelin should have stuck to its guns and said that it wasn't their kind of place rather than buckling and giving it a star. (I don't disagree it is an excellent restaurant)

    3 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      Never eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant but have eaten at St John a half dozen times will the star affect the prices?

      1. re: themags

        Doubt it, I don't believe Henderson cares for Michelin Stars and will not see it as a reason to bump up his prices.

        1. re: tonto21

          I'm delighted St. John have a star, and while they've never sacrificed their principles in the chase of one I think it's testament to the technical skill of the kitchen rather than its reputation. St John is often maligned by the underwhelmed who expect literal fireworks, but while the plates are determinedly uncomplicated they possess a deep sophistication, and after many meals there since I first went on my fifteenth birthday years ago I've yet to leave feeling any shade of disappointment for the level of inventiveness or culinary skill displayed in the dishes placed before me. The wine, though, is another matter entirely...

    2. I find it quite interesting that there has been such a limited discussion about the latest Michelin guide on the board. This year they have awarded a lot more stars in the UK, added new bibs, and caused some controversy in their rapid promotion of the new wave of French chefs in London. Yet there are only 4 comments on the board compared to 156 on another similar UK board. Don't UK Chowhounds care?

      Is the UK Chowhond board a good/reliable/useful place for the middle to upper market restaurant scene in London/UK or is it best, and most valuable, for the cheaper, less mainstream, and budget/student choices? Just looking at the board today the most popular topics are Fish and Chips (40 comments), Thattukada (33), Uigar (30), Cupcakes (28), and Burrittos (24) would seem to indicate that. Even Limster's excellent post about newly Michelin starred L'Autre Pied only received 2 comments. Anyway to redress the balance....

      IMO Michelin this year has been quite controversial and some of their choices are perplexing. Why does St John get a star but Hereford Road only a bib? It was great to see Purnells in Birmingham, Casamia in Bristol, Fraiche in Birkenhead get long deserved stars. It was interesting to see the Hambrough quickly get its star (I am planning a trip to the IOW).

      After reading Stephen Harris on WOM ( talk about getting his first star I think it is churlish to argue that restaurants don't deserve them, or have too many (after all performance on any one meal can vary). IMO opinion it is better to argue about the ones that are yet to be recognised. For example where is The Walnut Tree? or Bells Diner? or why didn't Wishart get a second? And why didn't Portminster Beach Cafe get a Bib?

      Who do you think missed out this time?

      22 Replies
      1. re: PhilD

        It's a very interesting point you raise. Certainly chowhound has not always expressed so little interest in ambitious cooking and top end locations, but as you noted response to posts about L'Autre Pied, Wareing et al are generally dying quietly. Perhaps a pity, but obviously symptomatic of the way people generally are thinking about what food they'd like to eat. My last major outing was to Corrigan's in december, and while I was delighted by every second, I didn't leave thinking I'd like to eat like that every day, regardless of cost. Chowhound does an increasingly good job of finding places that would never appear in any restaurant guide. It exists as an authentic representation of the interests of its contributors, and since few of its contributors seem to be paying much attention to the michelin guide, your question as to its value in terms of the upper market restaurant scene would probably be no. Personally I feel no great loss, for now. But perhaps this is just a period of over-correction, to be mourned at a later date.

        1. re: skut

          Honestly, I think what is more popular on this board is just a reflection of what is going on in the economy right now. Those who would love to go to those high end restaurants simply cannot right now. I think people are looking for good alternatives hence the other popularity of topics. Also, I think the reflection of the board here is because I, personally think it is very hard to find the good coffee shop, burrito place, cupcake shop in London. Those things are not advertised as easily as all the Gordon Ramsey/Galvin/River Cafe/St. John's restaurants. I see that the British food market does not really praise it's cheap eats to their mid-market finds as much as I think it should. This board I think fills that void.

          1. re: skut

            Now that the $$ goes so much further here than it used to, we may see on this board an increased number of tourists (those also using €€) seeking the higher-priced restaurants.

            I often wondered a few years ago just how so many could afford to regularly eat at a Michelin star on such a regular basis. It affects the wallet *and* the waistline. Many high-fliers are now not as high as they were, let alone possessing a job.

            It would be interesting to do a survey seeing how the economy has changed eating habits (I think it has and that's why Domino's profits are way up).

          2. re: PhilD

            I know what you mean - it usually creates all kinds of vitriol when the list is published and seems quite tame on this board compared to others!
            It is possible it's due to the economy - some of the starred places I have been lucky enough to visit have often been on expenses or for Christmas lunches, (so I'm not paying) yet this year this kind of spending was discouraged. Enough about that...

            I'm pleased that St John has finally got a star but am as perplexed as others as to why it has taken so long - especially since some recent diner reviews have been less than complementary. And as PhilD mentioned, it could open a big can of worms for Michelin - if they got one, why not others with a similar dining experience (but not necessarily what one would expect to be Michelin standard)?
            One restaurant I would love to see get a star (or perhaps not - would push prices up) is Trinity in Clapham. I have had great meals there - the service is topnotch, extensive wine list and the food is consistently amazing - as good as or better than any meal I have had at Arbutus or Wild Honey so why do they miss out? Or even not get talked about in many forums?

            Was Marcus Wareing too late to be included in this year's list? He has been very public about his desire to gain a third star so will he have to wait another year to find out? Or does he not deserve the third?

            1. re: pj26

              Wareing is in, he has two stars, I think the cut off is in November. Suspect he retained two based on previous form, and has to earn the third this year.

              1. re: pj26

                I'll second that shout for Trinity to be given a star. But then again if it does get one, I'll never get a table there again!

              2. re: PhilD

                I've just read your post by accident,as truthfully I am a avid reader of Chowhound but wouldn't say I'm interested in Michelin starred restaurants so didn't read this post when started. I AM interested in food and everything about it - I devour cookery books, food blogs etc, I cook great food at home, I bake, I love discovering new places (hence my joining Chow), I eat great/good food out - however I don't feel the need to go to what restaurants where they have things like dress codes, full of people I dont think I'd share much in common with and where I'd feel incredibly out of place. Give me a great curry, burrito, fish and chips, cupcake and I'm happy. I joined Chowhound to find out about local, good value restaurants where I can enjoy the food I like, not to find out where I can go to eat and feel uncomfortable!

                1. re: iheartcupcakes

                  It is a shame you feel like that, you are really missing out. I guess this is based on your perceptions rather than experience. Many Michelin starred restaurants are far from stuffy - for example try Arbutus in Soho, or St John.

                  IMO Chowhound is about good food (see manifesto), it can be "good value" food as well but the only test should be an assessment of whether it is good. My observation is the UK board has been skewed to "value", and that's OK, boards are democratic. However, it is important to realise that, and to appreciate, the UK board is no longer truly reflective of some of the better cooking in London and the UK.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    I'm not sure I totally agree with you Phil. It seems to me that many of the better (and sometimes higher priced) UK restaurants are often mentioned here... alongside the other places that people enjoy. Six or seven years ago, I had the same feeling about the Manhattan board....most were looking for things that didn't interest me back then.

                    That said, I just found out a friend of mine from the States has an in with the owner of The Grovesnor in Chester. I'll have to think about a trip north!

                    1. re: zuriga1

                      As well as the Grosvenor, you could do Fraiche in Birkenhead (sorry, Wirral), Cheshire Farm Icecream, the Pheasant at Higher Burwardsley and probably the best British cheese shop outside Covent Garden. I capped it off by staying at a Holiday Inn attached to a petrol station because I don't have an 'in' with the Grosvenor.

                      1. re: mr_gimlet

                        Are you kidding... we would probably stay at a B&B or Travelodge. :-) Thanks for the tips... my list is growing! I doubt we'd get much of a discount on a room at the Grosvenor - and they start at £200.

                        1. re: zuriga1


                          Don't be too sure about not being able to do a deal at the Grosvenor. While we were sat in the bar having coffee after a meal, we overheard negotiations going on between the restaurant manager and an obviously regular punter. There was no deal to be done on food, but there was on accommodation.

                          And, personally, I'd rate the Cheese Shop as better than Neal's Yard for qualtiy and variety of British & Irish cheeses. And, like our meal at Simon Radley, you'd find my report on Fraiche at egullet.


                          1. re: Harters

                            My U.S. friend *insists* we stay at the Grosvenor... I'll let you know what sort of deal for a room they came up with if Mr. Z. goes along with this. I am anxious to try the food. Our trips to Chester always seemed jinxed, so fingers crossed for this one.. still a few months off.

                            The Cheese Shop sounds wonderful...will definitely try to get there, too... and to egullet. :-) Does one have to pay now to enter something there?

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              "Does one have to pay now to enter something there?"

                              Not that I know of.

                              You might also find this Chester restaurant website and discussion board useful.


                              I gather the 1539 Restaurant at the racecourse is very up-and-coming. Very Paul Heathcote.

                              Outside the city, my favourite pub for lunch is the Boot Inn at Willington near Kelsall. The daily specials board always has some good local/seasonal stuff.

                              If you need any more tips for the city, June, please feel free to drop me an email nearer the time of the trip. Will try to help if I can.


                              1. re: Harters

                                Thanks for everything, as always, John. I guess we'll have to go to Chester for a week. :-) It's nice seeing you here again.


                      2. re: zuriga1

                        I think I do agree with PhilD about perceptions of value. I love a good curry, fish and chips etc as much as the next person, but I also love the experience of trying exceptional food which can be found at Michelin starred places. Places like Arbutus are far from stuffy and £19.50 for a lunch at starred place surely is great value?
                        Value doesnt have to mean cheap.

                        1. re: pj26

                          >Value doesnt have to mean cheap.<

                          I definitely agree with that. And I agree that many great places are not stuffy, regardless of their menu or prices. Food is so much like art. Everyone's tastes and pleasures are different, and what might seem a great meal to one person, may seem really terrible to someone else. Michelin stars mean more to some diners than to others.

                          People in London and the UK in general are used to paying more for meals than in some other countries. That changes perspective, too... as do exchange rates.

                          When everyone says Corrigan's is wonderful.. I tend to believe it!

                        2. re: zuriga1

                          As mr gimlet mentions above, do NOT miss the Pheasant, it is wonderful.

                          1. re: rrems

                            Thanks.. it's definitely on our list.

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              and the ice cream place is just round the corner. also I think Carole supplies the cheeses to Pheasant so it will eb a good cheeseboard - mine was excellent

                        3. re: PhilD

                          Its not the money aspect for me - more the people in the restaurant. I hate to use the word "alternative" but thats they only way I can describe how both I and my husband dress and as I said we just wouldn't feel comfortable in the restaurants that get Michelin Stars. I used to go along to these kind of places with my father for lunches and I just never felt comfortable surrounded by "suits". Ive eaten in many great (IMO) restaurants in London and Im' happy with that. I do admire the work done by these restaurants, as I said I read lots and I do enjoy, for instance, reading of other bloggers forays into these places, however they're just not for me!

                      3. re: PhilD

                        whats the name of the other board?

                      4. On a related theme, has anyone seen Time Out's 50 best London restaurants yet? Bocca di Lupo is no 1, and my local, Franco Manca, is at no 6. It's a pretty good list, I think.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Bocca di Lupo for a star perhaps? i LOVED it, and its had a lot of hype.....

                        2. No second for L'Enclume has to have been a borderline decision based on a recent meal (as, possibly, was the return of the second to Hibiscus, based on recent reports on another discussion board). Good to see Simon Radley retain his at the Grosvenor but the award that pleased me most was the star for Marc at Fraiche.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Harters

                            I'm pleased to see anything north of the M25. Was in Chester at the weekend but never thought to go to the Grosvenor, I see they have dropped their preoposterous dress code. That said, the Pheasant is still my preferred destination until Aidan Byrne gets his pub going in Lymm.

                            1. re: mr_gimlet

                              Indeed. I'd always refused to go to the Grosvenor because of it. Very good meal just before Christmas. Review on egullet. Same site also notes that Aidan is now in business in Lymm.