March 2011: Fine Dining Guide March Newsletter

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood is delighted to announce the continued success of a free iTunes podcast series. You can find any episode by typing “fine dining uk” in the main iTunes search box.

newsletter interviewees

The site has conducted four interviews since the last newsletter, spanning a former Michelin editor, a chef, a hotel group Regional vice President and a fine wine investment adviser.

Having Joined Michelin in the mid 1970s, some years later Derek Bulmer became only the third editor in GB&I Guide history. In this, his fourth interview with fine-dining-guide, Mr Bulmer speaks openly about his past, present and future.

Michelin two star chef Martin Burge successfully worked his way through the kitchens of Pied a Terre, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, L’Ortolan and The Landmark before setting up at Whatley Manor.

Four Seasons Hotel Group recently re-launched their Park Lane address and John Stauss GM and regional vice-president was on hand to give us his philosophies of General Management as well as an insight into the complete re-development of the iconic Park Lane site.

Berry Bros. & Rudd are one of the great wine merchants of the world – founded in the seventeenth century – and now with a global presence and a ground breaking website. Here Joss Fowler ( speaks about fine wines for investment.

Twitter/Facebook: The Twitter page continues to grow and now approaches 2450 followers ( The top 20 or so news tweets can also be found on fine-dining-guide’s News page. The Facebook page, which carries photo galleries of restaurant visits and updates of new articles, has grown steadily with 325 ‘likes’.

General Website Updates: The late winter/early spring months are typically the strongest for the site and this year has proved no exception with around 85,000 page views from 30,000 unique visitors since the last newsletter.

The 2011 edition Michelin arrived prompting an updating of the Lists of Restaurant Rankings. The Michelin Section has been significantly updated, in line with the publication season for all the various international city guides. The Restaurant Picture Gallery continues to be popular with readers and has been updated with visits to: The Cliff (Barbados), Cassis and Dinner by Heston.

In terms of restaurant reviews, The Restaurant Reviews Section now carries new pieces regarding BIrmingham Revisited (Love’s, Purnell’s and Turner’s), Odette’s, Le Pont de la Tour, Ristorante Semplice, Roux at the Landau, Cassis, Launceston Place, Corrigan’s and L’Enclume.

Opinion/News: The market for fine wines for investment – namely the top twenty or thirty Chateaux in Bordeaux is currently dominated by the far east. There are many wealthy, educated collectors in China with empty cellars. Today this market is brand loyal, should Chateau Lafite-Rothschild be written on the bottle then name your price. Or not quite. But a brand leader nonetheless.

Two economic corollaries appear; first that other fine wines of great intrinsic value are under priced today and the differential will be corrected tomorrow (as the dominant market becomes more aware and educated of intrinsic value over brand), making certain strong second growths a great investment today; second that there is no ‘Robert Parker figure’ in China today leaving a hole in the market for someone of that origin to capture the ‘taste of China’ – it made sense for an American to lead the world from the 1980s as they were the world’s leading investor, now perhaps it is time for a far-eastern counterpart.

A quick word on Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the room is stunning and design-wise a vast improvement on what had gone before, the glass kitchen centre-piece is truly memorable. The food is good too and the atmosphere, decor and style of service are in keeping with the modern all-things-to-all-people “brasserie style.” Let’s face it fine-diners, even supermarkets are training the checkouts to strike up an informal conversation so top end restaurants offering relaxed chats is nothing out of the ordinary, couple this with bare tables and uncomfortable chairs and you have the modern restaurant opening. It’s what people want (at the moment).

Finally, many congratulations to Derek Bulmer on his retirement after a distinguished career. Perhaps he has overseen the meteoric rise of the Michelin chef to the extraordinary plateau in public understanding they now enjoy. The media rollercoaster has re-invented the Michelin chef and the Red Guide has been right there with the shift throughout. Some rather lazy, Michelin bashing journalism has made its way to the broadsheets recently (including the FT no less) – well a powerful critic with unwieldy power will attract critics of their own. Its a compliment.

Until next time, Happy Eating!