Update to Michelin 2012
If you are looking for the most current post & listings for the Michelin guide for UK & Ireland, please see here: Michelin 2013
So with the 2nd Michelin guide of the year released, the first one to be under the full stewardship of new editor Rebecca Burr, many were expecting more of the same banality that was the 2011 guide in January. Normally in the lead up to the release of AA & more relevantly Michelin, there is always the speculation & rumours. Whether it was because this was the second guide of the year or chefs & foodies were just bored of the whole award season, rumours only really started to surface in the two days leading up to the noon release. But all of them transpired to be wide of the mark, other than the demotion of Pied a Terre.
I had received several communications that the Bloomsbury restaurant had been demoted from the highly respected 2* rating to being completely dropped from the star ratings altogether. So I tweeted as much;
Latest Rumour: hearing that a 2* has been completely demoted due to change of chef. Seems very harsh as new chef already held a * #Michelin
Of course Marcus Eaves had spent time working under former Pied a Terre head chef Shane Osborne (who departed in March) & earned a star in his own right at the sister restaurant L’Autre Pied. Many people jumped to the defence of Pied a Terre claiming that the standard of food hadn’t changed. Thankfully the damage was limited to the loss of only one star.
Unfortunately the loss of a star is massive when at 1* level, and one of the greatest surprises was the demotion of Alan Murchison’s 10 in 8 restaurant La Becasse. Messages of support & disbelief became a tidal wave across the social networks.
Now, for some good news. I had been told of two promotions to the 2* category, unfortunately the names I had been told turned out to be wrong and instead it was promotions of contrasting journeys.
Restaurant Sat Bains has been continually touted by serious foodies & chefs alike for a number of years and yet always shunned by the guide under Derek Bulmer for the second star. In stark contrast the arrival of a second star in Marlow at the kitchen of Tom Kerridge and the Hand & Flowers is somewhat of a bolt from the blue. Rebecca Burr commented on the award to the Hand & Flowers by saying;
This is a good news story for the British pub industry and confirms our view that pubs serving good food are the ones that continue to thrive. In the 2012 guide we are delighted to have 13 pubs with Michelin stars.
At the Hand and Flowers, Tom’s cooking has risen to new heights. His dishes are sophisticated yet familiar, and are a perfect match for the relaxed surroundings of his charming pub.
Looking further down the list there were also winners that would suit the London based food bloggers. With the highly regarded Polpo already achieving a Bib Gourmand in January, the sister eaterie da Polpo has now joined it. Other foodie rated Bib gourmand winners were Jose, Barrafina & St John Bread & Wine showing that Michelin are finally it appears are listening to those that regularly dine out.
2012 guide is yet another bumper year from the little red book with the award of 28 new Bib gourmands (new total of 129), two new 2* (new total of 17) & fifteen new 1* (new total of 130).
Whilst the wave of new high profile openings over the last twelve months has contributed to the rise in new stars & bibs. With places like Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social (review to be posted soon), Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner & Restaurant John Campbell all being welcome additions to the 1* category along with new 4AA rosette award winner Glenapp Castle, there is obviously a shift in the new editor’s perception of how the guide needs to service the growing burgeon of quality restaurants.
With the two main shocks of La Becasse & the Hand & Flowers, very few bloggers & commentators picked up on the fact that the highly regarded Hardwick from Stephen Terry has lost it’s Bib gourmand status.
Is all this movement from Michelin signalling that the changing of the guard, will try to restore some faith with the foodie fraternity? Despite the usual comparisons & disparities between the guides I believe that this edition of the red guide is the closest yet to what the educated foodie is thinking.
On a personal note I would like to congratulate Driftwood Hotel in Cornwall for being one of the newly starred eateries. Well done to Chris Eden & his team.