Archive for October, 2012

Restaurant Review: Auberge du Lac, Welwyn (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Auberge du Lac

Our first visit to Auberge du Lac some years ago began with embarrassment: we mistakenly rang the doorbell of the main Brocket Hall residence. Our mistake had been to enter by the wrong entrance to the 540 acre estate, which was easy to do, especially at night, given the paucity of signposts both outside and within the grounds. The staff, who appeared used to re-directing unwary diners, pointed the way to the far side of the grounds.

Auberge du Lac Sign

Housed within the elegantly proportioned, converted hunting lodge overlooking an ornamental lake, few restaurants can match the idyllic, romantic setting of Auberge du Lac. The ground floor bar, with stone fireplace, soft lighting and leather bucket chairs is a comfortable place for pre and post prandial drinks. Downstairs is the conservatory dining room, carpeted with well-spaced tables and fine napery.

The modern French cooking of Michelin chef Phil Thompson is unashamedly complex. Skilled classical techniques are combined with modern approaches – aided by the latest kitchen technology – to produce labour intensive, innovative dishes. Ingredients are the finest, whether local or from further afield: Phil has avoided the tiresome, uncritical bandwagon of “local is best.”

Combinations of ingredients, sometimes with an oriental influence, may surprise, but always work in terms of taste, texture and temperature. Menu descriptions are terse, belying the intricate, multi–layered nature of many dishes. Micro herbs, smears, gels, and scatterings are not mere decorative garnishes but essential components of fully integrated creations. Presentation on a variety of porcelain and stoneware plates and bowls do full justice to key qualities of each dish.

An exciting tasting menu revealed the breadth and depth of Phil Thompson’s cutting edge cuisine.

An amuse bouche of creamy leek and potato mousse was given extra flavour and texture by the addition of smoked haddock and crisp crutons.

Auberge Pre Starter

A large, plump scallop was perfectly timed to produce a caramelised crust and succulent flesh. The soft fruitiness of roasted pear complemented the bivalve well, whilst a vanilla flavoured puree added a savoury taste and sweet fragrance.

Auberge Scallop

A generous tranche of seared foie gras was unctuous in flavour and velvety in texture.  It was paired with an innovative coconut sponge and garnished with blackberry, the fruity acidity of which cut the richness of the liver. Frozen yoghurt gave the dish the added dimension of coldness which contrasted with the warmth of the delectable offal. The result was a taste explosion in the mouth.

Another successful combination saw earthy, nutty cep mushrooms paired with meltingly rich pig’s head brawn. Although yeast butter added further lushness, the sweet acidity of pickled grapes and peppery kick of watercress gave the dish the balance it needed.

Auberge Brawn

Serving raw seafood might appear a risky strategy, but the tiny Myler prawns – a relatively new ingredient on top end menus – were delicate, sweet and simply dissolved in the mouth. Deeply flavoured roast shrimp dashi complemented the uncooked prawns well. Pink fir apple potato gave substance and texture to this simple yet sophisticated dish.

Auberge Prawn

A granite of tarragon, dressed with apple, beetroot and buttermilk, was a cool, herby palate cleanser which enlivened the taste buds.

How pleasing to see mutton – so often shunned in fine dining restaurants – on the tasting menu.  For those who tire of the ubiquitous lamb, no matter how sweet and tender, this grossly underrated meat delighted with its robust flavour and firm texture. Goat’s cheese added a muted lactic sharpness, whilst charred leek gave a smoky but not overpowering flavour. Autumn truffle shavings lifted the whole dish with a heavenly fungal aroma.

Auberge Mutton

A quennel of Roquefort mousse of smooth consistency was well judged in its tangy flavour and muted pungency.  Quince jelly and a port based sauce added a balancing sweetness.

A pre dessert scoop of toffee apple parfait, beautifully smooth in texture and caramelised in flavour. It came with a well executed sugar tuile and accompanying sorbet.

Auberge Pre Dessert

Fresh figs benefitted from being poached in port which offset their natural blandness, adding a deeply rich sweetness. Their softness was complemented by pain perdu and worked well with an bitter dark chocolate dressing and vibrant citral notes of orange gel. This was another exemplary combination of flavours and textures.

Other aspects of the meal were equally impressive: tiny choux puffs filled with chicken liver parfait were star canapés; a dish of mackerel rillettes was a pleasing alternative to butter for spreading on tomato bread; a delicious smoked bacon brioche had a crisp crust and buttery crumb; and chocolate truffles were skilfully executed.

Service was efficient and well informed. The sommelier chose and presented matching wines from an impressive list. The consummate ease with which she did this reflected knowledge and experience.

Clearly Auberge du Lac is a restaurant of distinction, recognised by high ratings in most of the leading food guides. It remains a mystery why it has recently lost the Michelin star it held since 2009. However, this can only be a temporary aberration, given the accomplished skill and quality ingredients displayed on the tasting menu. We look forward to next year’s guide with interest

Hotel Review: Lucknam Park, Wiltshire, (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 30th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood


Lucknam Park, one of the country’s most distinguished country house hotels, has been bestowed with a host of top awards, including a Michelin Star, five AA Red Stars and the Visit Britain Gold Award. As a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux Association, it offers in abundance the five Cs – character, courtesy, calm, charm and cuisine.

Few approaches to a country house hotel can match the grandeur of the mile long drive to the main house. Set in 500 acres of gardens and parkland, the double avenue of 400 ancient lime and beech trees, which famously hid spitfires in the Second World War, opens onto manicured  lawns, attractive gardens and open parkland.

The grey stoned mansion, the central core designed in Palladian style, has an elegantly symmetrical frontage, complete with columned portico, sash windows, mini gables, and bow wing extensions. The courtyard behind is reminiscent of Oxford architecture, a blend of the ivy clad walls of Exeter College and the honey coloured buildings of Hertford.


Here, just as in that city of dreaming spires, the buildings have character and charm in an atmosphere of calm tranquillity.

These qualities are displayed also in the public rooms and guest accommodation. An inviting entrance hall leads to the stately, wood paneled library and bow fronted, brightly lit Georgian drawing room beyond.

Lucknam Lounge

The tall windows are dressed with heavy, luxurious drapes, a key feature of the hotel. With leather chesterfields, settees and armchairs in sumptuous fabrics, large gilt mirrors and period paintings, both lounges retain a distinct period feel, exuding comfort and sophistication. The feeling of wealthy but restrained elegance is almost palpable.

Lucknam Library

The Park Restaurant, with its high ceiling, magnificent chandeliers, wall lighting, mirrors and artwork, is a suitably grand setting for the Michelin starred cuisine served there. Throne-like chairs offer comfortable seating around well-spaced tables dressed in fine napery and decorated with pot plants and candles.

The 42 refurbished guest rooms and suites retain the traditional atmosphere and classical good taste of the public rooms, along with every modern amenity. The supremely comfortable and spacious Camelia Suite in which I stayed is located above the main entrance, commanding fine views of the drive and parkland. In the gold flock papered sitting room, traditional furniture and fittings – a Queen Anne armchair, writing desk and gold plated chandelier – exist alongside a flat screen satellite television, a Bose hi-fi and an iPod dock. Similarly, the bedroom’s period pieces – a magnificent, high four poster bed, a chaise longue, an antique dressing table and a chest of drawers – are supplemented by another giant flat screen TV and reading spotlights on the bed  The marble tiled bathroom is well appointed with twin sinks, douche and hand held showers, fluffy towels, dressing gowns, still and sparkling mineral water and Anne Semonin toiletries. Overall, there was everything anyone would need for a peaceful, restful stay; certainly, the guest book testifies to the enjoyment of previous guests, some on repeat visits.

Lucknam Park Camelia Suite

If guests wish to luxuriate elsewhere, no better place can be found than the award winning Spa. Located in the walled garden beyond the courtyard, this marble, glass and wood structure offers treatments using Anne Semonin and Carita care products, a 20 metre swimming pool, and a range of indulgent activities. For non-swimmers like me, the indoor/ outdoor hydrotherapy pool, with water jets was an invigorating treat. Five thermal cabins offer guests an unequalled range of temperatures; for me the heat and calm of the Japanese Salt and Aromatic Steam rooms were the most relaxing. Fortunately, it was too cold to try the outdoor saltwater plunge pool! Given time, which others clearly had, it would be easy to spend the whole day in the Spa, taking lunch in the adjacent brasserie.


In good weather, guests might prefer to tour the extensive grounds, particularly the five acres of gardens. The Walled Garden, with its late 18th century dovecot, is the most traditional in lay out, whilst the Rose Garden has a symmetrical design inspired by a French courtyard. In addition, there is a Victorian kitchen herb garden, dominated by lavender, and a miniature oriental tropical garden. Of special interest to nature lovers will be the Arboretum, designed by landscape designer Antony Young to accommodate 600 trees, many of them rare and unusual such as the Chinese Crab tree.  Guests can choose from a list of 64 species, with prices ranging from £20 to over £150, their names commemorated on a tree plaque.

For the more active, the renowned Equestrian Centre provides horses and ponies for both lessons and hacks. Three new packages have been provided for all levels of ability. Alternatively, the new Cookery School, to open in November 2012, will be an added attraction for the more gastronomically inclined.

Claire RandallOverseeing the whole operation is Claire Randall (Left), Managing Director for the last two years and General Manager for the previous 11. This considerable experience gives her a realistic appreciation of the hotel’s strengths and a confident plan for improvement.

Her approach is essentially hands on, talking to guests, observing staff in action, and ensuring that service is offered in an unstinting, caring and unobtrusive fashion. Nothing should be too much trouble for the staff.

Given that 90% of business is from the UK, with Londoners on a luxury break making up most of week-end trade, she is keen to build on this market.

Claire’s mission statement for Lucknam Park is “to provide a home, away from home, with country house living at its very best.” Relaxation and comfort, with personal, friendly service are paramount considerations in making a guest’s stay memorable. Given that many jobs in the hotel do not require advanced technical skills, it important to employ those with a positive, caring attitude and a willingness to please.

Claire’s vision for the future is dynamic and ambitious: she aims to consolidate existing and initiate new developments to ensure a steady stream of revenue, especially with weekdays and the winter months in mind.

The new Spa, opened in November 2008, provides world class facilities and has further enhanced the fortunes of the hotel. The Brasserie, which holds an AA rosette, has enabled residents to eat well but more informally inside the hotel, rather than seeking meals outside. The new Cookery School, opening in November 2012 and led by Roux Scholar and National Chef of the Year Hrishikesh Desai, will attract a range of aspiring chefs to its 26 courses. The Indian regional cookery and Street Food courses are already heavily subscribed.

A Well Being Centre, based in a quiet cottage on the estate, is planned to open in 2013. It will offer a range of therapies, such as ‘dry flotation’ and Sleep therapy, and activities such as Palates and Tai Chi. All these initiatives also have the potential to increase the accommodation rate.

Having seen Lucknam win most of the top hotel awards, and receive glowing reviews on websites, it would be easy to stand still. This is not in Claire Randall’s nature, which is always to look for progression. It will involve a degree of lateral thinking, a thorough dissection of all jobs, an appreciation of who excels in which part –even small parts – and a concentration on maximising individual abilities to improve the performance of the whole team. With a staff of 150, this no simple task, but it is one that will raise standards to a level even higher than they are already.

During my stay at Lucknam Park, service at all times was fault free. At check in, my bags were swiftly taken to my room where champagne on ice, grapes and chocolates awaited my arrival. I was given a detailed tour of the facilities. Service, both in The Brasserie for lunch and The Park for dinner and breakfast was beyond reproach. The nightly turn down of the bedroom was completed efficiently and discretely. Even my failure to open my locker in the Spa changing room was managed with the minimum of fuss. Finally, the razor I left in the bathroom was quickly despatched to me two days after my departure. Clearly, the service could hardly be better!

Staying at Lucknam Park is a real joy, one that is truly memorable and which totally justifies the recognition it has received.

Restaurant Review: ‘The Park’, Lucknam Park Hotel, (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 30th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

This article covers notes from an interview with Lucknam Park’s Michelin starred Executive Chef Hywel Jones, a comprehensive review of the flagship ‘Park Restaurant’ as well as a brief overview of the second restaurant – The Brasserie.  At the time of writing, Head Chef of The Park was Richard Edwards and Head Chef of The Brasserie was Benjamin Taylor.

Executive Chef, Hywel Jones has garnered many accolades for The Park including a Michelin star, held since 2006, Hotel Chef of the Year (2007) and high marks in all the top food guides. Whether talking about his regime in the kitchen, or Welsh venison and Wye Valley second season asparagus, a passion and genuine love of his craft is fully evident. There is also a keen sense of duty, to his kitchen team in particular and to the hotel in general.

Executive Chef - Hywel Jones

Executive Chef - Hywel Jones


With a brigade of 22 to cover both The Park and The Brasserie, each of which has head chefs, he is able to provide opportunities to work in both styles of service. His philosophy of kitchen management, inspired by his mentor David Nicholls, is simple: treat people the way you want to be treated, speak to them as you would your own family, creating a positive environment of mutual respect. In that way, the sum of the parts will perform to its very best.

He reinforces this approach with visits to suppliers of organic produce, recent ones being farms in Wales and Devizes. Here, staff can gain a fuller understanding of their provenance which helps to build a respect for ingredients in the kitchen, stimulating suggestions for their use. The head chefs in both kitchens are encouraged to offer new dishes as specials, which later might be permanently included in the carte.

Although menus reflect the seasons, Hywel is realistic enough to appreciate they have to be altered gradually, not changed wholesale. Indeed, it would be unwise to take certain dishes – like the hugely popular belly pork – off the menu.

Unlike some other (nameless) top chefs, he sees his role not merely as an outlet for gastronomic creativity, to be foisted on diners through a limited range menu. Indeed, the guests’ preferences are paramount, as reflected in the wide choice offered in both restaurants.

Having worked for Macro Pierre White, Nico Ladenis and David Nicholls, Hywel’s forte lies inevitably in the realm of fine dining, for which, he accepts, there will always be a niche market. Nevertheless, he sees the future for eating out lying in a simpler, more casual brasserie style. As he says, “Food does not have to be expensive and complicated to be good”.

That Hywel planned to stay for five years but is now in his ninth speaks volumes about his job satisfaction and commitment. He must be particularly proud that he has mentored two award winning chefs: Hrishikesh Desai, Roux Scholar (2009) and National Chef of the Year (2010); and Mark Stinchcombe, Young Chef of the Year (2010), Young National Chef of the Year (2010, from the Craft Guild of Chefs), and the “Award for Excellence (2010, from the Academy of Culinary Arts)

Not that Hywel wants to stand still: new ideas for the menu constantly evolve, and broader challenges emerge. In the short term he is finalising the November opening of the Cookery School. Next year he aims to extend the vegetable garden and to keep bees on the estate. Two Michelin stars and four AA rosettes would not be unwelcome, provided, he stresses, they are achieved without compromising his overall role at the hotel.

Hywel’s style of cuisine has deep classical French roots, although it is much lighter in composition. High levels of skill are demonstrated in precise timings, using a variety of cooking techniques – with the aid of modern technology- to enhance the inherent qualities of first rate produce.  Combinations of organic, often local, ingredients are harmonious, with the main element always taking centre stage on the plate. Purity of taste, with a strong regard for balance of flavour and texture are emphasised. Contemporary elements such as jellies, purees, foams and micro leaves are used in moderation, but are integral parts of a dish rather than mere decoration. Presentation has clean lines, which add to the overall appeal of the dishes.

The Park Restaurant at Lucknam Park Hotel

The Park Restaurant at Lucknam Park Hotel


The carte offers ample choice with seven starters, seven mains, three desserts and a cheese option. The gourmet menu, with a vegetarian alternative, features seven stages, including an amuse surprise and pre-dessert.

Over drinks in the library, we enjoyed well-made canapés: corned beef hash fritters with a tasty hot filling; delicate cones of salmon rillettes; and crisp black olive straws.

Lucknam Park Amuses

An assiette surprise comprised a plump seared hand dived scallop topped with delicate, lightly cooked myler prawns – a relatively new addition to fine dining menus. The sweetness of the seafood and its butter sauce was balanced by the gentle bitterness of wilted iceberg lettuce.

Lucknam Park Scallop

As an unashamedly indulgent diner, I was pleased to see a torchon made from duck foie gras, which is richer and gamier than its smoother goose counterpart. This labour intensive dish had been skilfully marinated, poached, chilled and rolled, doing full justice to a delectable piece of offal.  The accompaniments showed contemporary techniques applied well: compressed pear had an enhanced colour, texture and flavour, whilst chamomile and Sauternes jelly showed a good balance of floral and sweet elements.  (Wine: Riesling, Eroica, Chateau St Michelle & Dr Loosen, Colombia Valley, Washington state, USA, 2010)

Lucknam Foie Gras

An extra course from the carte came next. A fillet of Devonshire Rose veal was accurately poached to maximise its delicate flavour and melting texture. More intense and richer was its sweetbread (pancreas), the creamy texture of which was lifted by a glaze of pancetta. With a light jus and garnishes of girolles, truffle and marinated salsify, this was a brilliantly conceived and skilfully executed autumnal dish.

Lucknam Park Veal

A Cornish turbot fillet formed the centre piece of the fish course. Braising allowed the moistness of the firm, succulent flesh to shine through. Plump glazed crayfish, were sweet, soft and tender. Carbohydrate came in the form of crisp cylinder of potato vermicelli. Pak choy and broad beans added colour, texture and flavour, whilst two complementary sauces – an intense bisque, and a fragrant lemongrass butter – brought this tour de force of seafood cooking together. (Wine: Pinot d’Alsace Metiss, Domaine Bott-Geyl, Alsace, France 2009).

Lucknam Turbot

The game course featured Brecon venison from Andrew Morgan’s estate. The fully flavoured loin was precisely seared, giving a caramelised crust and medium rare flesh. A rolled lasagne (rotolo) of butternut squash and chestnuts, along with their purees, were earthy and robust. All these were balanced by a not over sweet sloe gin sauce.  (Wine: Cabernet Franc, Broquel, Trapiche Mendoza, Argentina, 2009)

Lucknam Park Venison

From an impressive selection of British and French cheeses we chose Mont d’Or, Epoisses and Somerset Cheddar, all in perfect condition.  (Wine: Quinta da Romaneira, L.B.V. Port, Douro Valley, Portugal, 2005)

Layered cucumber jelly, apple and yogurt foam was the refreshing palate cleanser and pre dessert

A trio of desserts was an exquisite marriage of tropical flavours. An intensely flavoured but light passion fruit cream was glazed to produce a wafer thin, bruleed crust; lemon grass sorbet delighted with its herby astringency and velvety texture; and mango and lime leaf mousse, served in a shot glass, captured the essence of the fruit. (Wine: Pinot Gris, Vendage Tardives, Grand Cru Sonnenglanz, Domaine Bott-Geyl, Alsace France, 2006)

Lucknam Park Dessert

Other aspects of the meal deserve praise. Of the breads offered, focaccia, which came in a flower pot, was beautifully moist with a good balance of olive oil, salt and cheese. French baguette and brown bread were equally well executed. Macaroons and truffles served with good coffee showed the same painstaking attention to detail as the preceding courses.

Service was friendly, efficient and attentive without being obtrusive. Claire, our waitress for the evening, spoke enthusiastically about her training at Lucknam Park as part of the 10/10 scheme.

The flight of wines was expertly chosen from the extensive list to complement the dishes perfectly. Both wines and food were introduced concisely, avoiding the extended explanations that can delay their enjoyment.

Overall, dining at The Park was a joy, a highly memorable experience and one for which we, like many guests, are eager to repeat.

Lucknam Park Brasserie

Lucknam Park Brasserie


Arriving too early to check in, we decided on an impromptu single course lunch; and we were pleased we did. A classic British dish was raised to lofty heights with three plump, succulent middle white sausages, deep, rich onion gravy, and creamy, velvety smooth mash potatoes. A fillet of hake was perfectly timed to produce soft glistening flakes of sweet flesh. Roasted purple and golden beetroot were flavoursome accompaniments, giving textural contrast.

Lucknam Brasserie Hake

With its contemporary designed bar, lounge and restaurant areas, The Brasserie is a spacious, stylish venue for casual, all day dining. The open plan kitchen, complete with wood fire oven, offers a surprisingly wide range of dishes, including healthy options – possibly for those using the adjacent spa? There is also an excellent value set lunch available.

Overall Lucknam Park was a first class retreat, not just for the comfort and pampering on offer but also as a gastronomic tour to remember.

Michelin Guide San Francisco 2013: Press Release & Stars

Posted on: October 30th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Michelin releases its famed guide to San Francisco’s best restaurants

Atelier Crenn is Awarded Two Michelin Stars in the Guide’s Seventh Edition 10/24/2012

Paris (Oct. 23, 2012)—In the latest edition of the highly anticipated MICHELIN Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country 2013, 42 restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars. Both restaurants that achieved three Michelin stars in 2012–The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood–maintained this honor. Three Michelin stars is considered the utmost international recognition in the culinary world, and is reserved for those restaurants that serve “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

This year’s guide sees six restaurants awarded two Michelin stars. Atelier Crenn has been promoted from one to two stars and five establishments maintained their standing from the previous edition.

Thirty-four restaurants earned one Michelin star, a significant culinary accomplishment that can be defined as “a very good restaurant in its category.” The three newcomers to the category are All Spice, SPQR and Keiko à Nob Hill.

Inclusion in the MICHELIN Guide is an acknowledgment of culinary excellence and quality. A total of 539 restaurants are included in the selection which covers San Francisco, the East Bay, Wine Country, Marin, South Bay and the Peninsula. Michelin inspectors embraced 47 different cuisines this year, reflecting the tremendous diversity found across the region.

The release of the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country comes one week after Michelin announced that 70 restaurants earned the distinction of Bib Gourmand. These establishments offer two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuity) and are known as the Michelin inspectors’ favorites for good value. The MICHELIN Guide 2013 editions include two new symbols: one highlighting notable beer lists, pint of beer, and the other, chopsticks, indicating restaurants with a dim sum offering.

The seventh edition of the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country goes on sale Wednesday, October 24, at $18.99.

Michelin has done as much to enhance mobility as any company in the world. The company patented the pneumatic, or air-filled, tire in the late 1800s. This was a milestone moment in mobility, permitting automobile owners to travel at great length in a single journey. Then, in an effort to prompt travelers to enjoy their newfound mobility, the company created guides and detailed maps to steer travelers on their way. The most famous publication that developed from this is the internationally recognized MICHELIN Guide.

Thanks to the rigorous MICHELIN Guide selection process that is applied independently and consistently around 23 countries, the MICHELIN Guide has become an international benchmark in fine dining. The selections of all restaurants in the guide are made by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine all around the Bay Area regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence. As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full.

Download Full San Francisco Michelin Guide Star Listing (Official pdf): michelin-guide-san-francisco-area-stars-2013

Restaurant Review: Allium, Bath (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 27th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Chefs Chris Staines (left) and Olly Pierrepont


For a major tourist destination as famous as Bath, the relative absence of quality restaurants – with a couple of exceptions – is surprising; or perhaps not, given that most tourists, especially day trippers, tend to play safe and go for well known, if mediocre, chains. But for those staying longer, the choice is still disappointingly limited.

In the light of this, the opening of Allium Brasserie is a much needed addition to the Bath restaurant scene. Located in the Abbey Hotel, near the city centre, the interconnecting white walled dining rooms are decorated with large mirrors and abstract murals. Plain, well-spaced tables, attractive purple upholstered seating and linoleum flooring complete the modest, yet pleasingly furnished room

At the helm is Chris Staines, who retained a Michelin star for seven years at Foliage, Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. Prior to this, he was Chef de Cuisine at Marco Pierre White’s Oak Room, which held 3 Michelin stars. Ably assisted by sous chef Olly Pierrepont, late of Coworth Park, this partnership represents a wealth of experience at the highest levels.

It is a testament to the sheer range and versatility of their skills that Chris and Olly, leading a small but talented team in a cramped kitchen, can produce a variety of dishes to please both casual diners and those seeking more sophisticated, fine dining options. Whatever the choice, precise cooking of carefully sourced ingredients will result in flavoursome, well balanced dishes. Presentation, especially of starters and mains, has clean lines reflecting conscious artistry. Food influences are world-wide and portions are generous

All day dining from 12.00 noon to 9.00 includes snacks (£3.50 to £4.00), salads and starters (£7.50 to £9.50) mains (£14 to £24), and desserts and cheese. An excellent set lunch menu (£14.95 for two courses) and afternoon tea are also available.

Fine Dining Guide visited on a week day lunchtime to sample a selection from the main menu. An accomplished sourdough rye bread had a good bake, with a crisp crust and firm crumb. Four snacks immediately impressed.

Mandarin segments were the perfect vehicle for shrimp jam, which combined sweet, sour and spicy flavours. Spiked with chilli, peanuts and coriander, this engaged the taste buds full on.

Serrano ham “Croquetas” featured breaded croquettes packed with Pata negra Spanish ham. Fresh from the deep fryer, these had a hot, moist and flavoursome interior

Sticky barbeque pork ribs were enlivened with a sprinkling of  of spring onions and chilli.

Quail Scotch eggs were perfectly timed to produce a soft, blushing yolk encased in succulent middle white pork sausage meat. Apple chutney cut the richness of this dish perfectly.


Be warned: the size of starter dishes can be the same as main courses in other restaurants.

The first was an innovative celeriac soup garnished with a “Waldorf salad” of apple, celery and caramelised walnuts. Atlantic prawns added flavour and textural contrast, whilst a chestnut cream added further richness

Vegetarians and carnivores alike could not fail to be impressed by the Salad of Priory farm autumn vegetables. A selection of braised autumn root vegetables and wafer thin slices of deep fried Jerusalem artichoke were dressed with candied pears, sherry vinegar and pickled walnuts. This dish was a triumphant balance of savoury, sharp and sweet flavours with contrasting soft and crisp textures.

A fish starter was another excellent harmonious combination. “Loch Duart” salmon combined the sweet and salty elements of its miso cure in equal measure. A sesame crust added flavour and contrasting texture. A deep fried fritter retained the ozone freshness of the oyster within and pickled cucumber, grapefruit and wasabi dressing gave a fresh, lively kick. Served on a dark plate garnished with curls of mouli, this dish was also visually stunning.

Roast quail, well timed to retain its moist flesh, was enhanced by a glazed chilli caramel, giving it a sweet and spicy lift. Chinese cabbage, hearts of palm, lychees, peanuts and coriander garnishes all contributed to the success of this dish

Both main courses demonstrated considerable skill and finesse in handling top rate produce. Here was the excellence that gained Chris Staines a Michelin star earlier in his career.

Roasted grey leg partridge was timed to allow its gentle gamey flavour and soft texture to shine through. Wet polenta, poached quince and deep fired sage leaves added savoury, sweet and herby elements bought together with the bird by an intense sauce of roasting juices thickened with chicken livers and spiked with chilli.

In my view, sustainable Pollock has rarely, in terms of taste and texture, been an equal substitute for endangered cod. The fillet cooked at Allium was a delightful exception: its soft, glistening white flakes and pronounced flavour were a revelation. The soda bread crust added texture, whilst smoked leeks, mashed potato and taramasalata sauce complemented the fish well.

Replete with good things, we were unable to sample the desserts. There could be little doubt, given past experience at Foliage and Coworth Park,  they would of the same high standard as the savoury courses. Lychee panna cotta, pineapple, mango and lemon grass granite or mille feuille of caramelised apple, crème mousseline, cider jelly with caramel ice cream both sounded extremely tempting. There was an embarrassment of choice of two more desserts or a selection of cheeses

Other aspects of Allium warrant attention. The wine list has range from the New and Old World  at competitive prices the  bottle and glass. Service is efficient, friendly and well informed.

Overall, Allium deserves the success it has already gained locally and needs to be appreciated by those from further afield. The “Brasserie” tag understates the quality of the cooking even if it represents the overall style. In The Great Bath Feast of 2012, Allium  attracted Tom Kerridge of the Hand and Flowers as a guest chef. Restaurant critic Giles Coren recently launched his book How to Eat here. We will watch its progress in Bath with interest.

Michelin Guide Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara 2013 PR

Posted on: October 18th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Below is the press release for Michelin Guide Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara 2013

15 new Michelin stars are born!  10/18/2012

MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013

Michelin is pleased to announce the publication of the MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013, which offers a selection of the best restaurants, ryokans and hotels in these four cities.

The Guide includes a total of 362 establishments of which 273 are restaurants, 46 hotels and 43 ryokans.

MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013 (Japanese version) goes on sale in Japan on October 19th.

In the MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013 selection there are:

  • 12 restaurants with three stars: (5 in Kyoto, 4 in Osaka, 2 in Kobe and 1 in Nara)
  • 51 restaurants with two stars: (24 in Kyoto, 14 in Osaka, 10 in Kobe and 3 in Nara) and 1 ryokan (in Kyoto)
  • 210 restaurants with one star: (72 in Kyoto, 81 in Osaka, 39 in Kobe and 18 in Nara); and 3 ryokans (in Kyoto)
    • 14 restaurants join the selection with one star (6 in Kyoto, 6 in Osaka, 2 in Kobe)
    • A contemporary French restaurant joins the selection in Kyoto for the first time
    • 1 ryokan has been awarded 1 star (Kyoto)

MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka Kobe Nara 2013 includes a wide variety of Japanese cuisine. Along with traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine you can find soba, kushiage, teppanyaki, sushi, yakitori, izakaya, unagi, tempura, fugu, sukiyaki, oden, obanzai, shojin, yuba, beef specialities and chicken specialities. We also recommend a range of other international cuisines such as Korean, Chinese and French, as well as steakhouses. This year, 9 traditional Japanese, 1 contemporary Japanese (ryokan), 1 izakaya, 2 fugu, 1 contemporary French and 1 Chinese restaurant join the selection with one star.

Michelin updates the MICHELIN Guides every year in order to provide the most reliable information possible for our readers. Our team of inspectors are full-time Michelin employees with a professional knowledge of the hospitality industry and they pay all their bills in full. As well as revisiting all the restaurants and hotels selected in previous editions, they are always on the lookout for other establishments that could be interesting to our readers.

In Japan, as in the 22 other countries covered by the MICHELIN Guide, a consistent selection is ensured by awarding stars based on the same criteria. Stars in the MICHELIN Guides have the same value all over the world, so that a one star restaurant in Osaka offers the same quality as a one star establishment in, say, New York or Paris.

The same five criteria are:

  • the quality and compatibility of the ingredients
  • the preparation and the flavours of the dish
  • the chef’s personality as revealed through his or her cuisine
  • value for money
  • consistency over time and across the entire menu

Stars apply only to ‘what is on the plate’ and are awarded solely for the quality of the cooking.

  • Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
  • Two stars mean excellent cooking, worth a detour
  • One star means a very good restaurant in its category

A restaurant that receives one or more stars is not only one of the best in its country but also one of the best in the world. The restaurants we choose are classified by fork-and-spoon symbols according to the levels of comfort and style of service. Pavilions denote the comfort of hotels and inns the comfort of ryokans. When these symbols are in red it indicates that the establishment is particularly charming.

Bernard Delmas, President of Nihon Michelin Tire announced, “The MICHELIN Guide has been enjoyed by its readers for over a century and in 2007 it embarked on new adventures in Asia. The MICHELIN Guide Tokyo was published in 2008 and two years later The MICHELIN Guide Kyoto Osaka was born. Today we are proud to present the 4th edition of this guide to the Kansai region and are delighted to present this new selection once again in autumn, when Japan is full of such wonderful produce. Our inspectors have been busy finding restaurants to recommend to you, our readers, and we hope that you will enjoy the stars which shine so brightly in Kansai”.

The first MICHELIN Guide France was published in August 1900. Distributed free of charge (until 1920) and originally intended for motorists, the guide contained a wealth of practical information, including tips on using and repairing tires; city street maps, and lists of gasoline outlets, hotels and mechanics. For the Michelin brothers, the objective was to speed up the development of the automobile, and consequently the tire market. They wanted to promote and improve travel by making it safer and more enjoyable—in other words, to enhance mobility, which is still today the common goal of Michelin’s maps, guides, atlases and other publications.

Every year, in more than 90 countries around the world, Michelin publishes some 10 million maps, atlases, tourist guides, and restaurant and hotel guides—and always with the same focus on quality.

For Star Listing, downloadable pdf here: MICHELIN-Guide-Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe-Nara-2013-Selection-List

Michelin Interview: Editor Rebecca Burr (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Rebecca Burr has completed her second year as editor of The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland.  In early October 2012, Rebecca found time to speak to Simon Carter of fine-dining-guide.  Interview took place at The Gore Hotel, London.

Congratulations on the publication of the Michelin GB&I and London Guides for 2013, remind our readers of your roles and responsibilities within Michelin.

My responsibilities are as editor of The Michelin Great Britain & Ireland Hotel and Restaurant Guide, The Eating out in Pubs Guide, The London Restaurant Guide and The Main Cities of Europe Guide.

Michelin GBI 2013 CoverWhat is your summary of trends and events in the restaurant scene up and down the country?

The country is certainly much more comfortable in its own heritage with the re-emergence of the traditional British recipes witnessed in many addresses such as Dinner (by Heston), Brawn, Hereford Road and The Gilbert Scott.  There’s a pride in re-visiting and perhaps re-inventing these recipes and this not just in London but reflected in many pubs and restaurants up and down the country.

A trend in London may be toward large brasseries with continental menus; places such as The Delaunay or Brasserie Zedel (Michelin Bib Gourmand) are excellent examples of successful restaurants delivering a high quality product that may be a signal that there’s more of this style to come in London.

A developing trend is the continuous evolution of the ‘local, seasonal’ menus to the point that it may be a surprise to visit an address that does not proclaim these ideals.  Indeed, many restaurants may be sourcing vegetables from a very local plot including some actually on the premises.

On the whole, in London at least, the recession is being coped with very well, chefs may even be getting a sense of satisfaction from delivering quality food from perhaps lesser cuts at very attractive prices.  The rise of “tapas” style dining where the customer can choose how much they want to eat (and spend) has been helping to keep tables ticking over and restaurant ventures flourishing.

Single concept dining is an interesting new trend, where you offer one or two things specifically.  Diners are quite unforgiving given the amount of choice available for food generally, so such addresses need to have the product absolutely right all of the time.

Also, a no bookings policy is an interesting trend, you might think it would not necessarily work that well, but certainly in the Soho area of London customers will go from one restaurant to the next, considering their choices and this idea is catching on.

The pubs and restaurants that were once considered high quality “neighbourhood” establishments are perhaps moving into London and the city area in particular.  We are now seeing the city postcodes challenging Mayfair for the number of overall entries in the Guide.  Not so many years ago the city area was gastronomically quiet but now it offers a thriving food community with quality addresses for diners.

Certainly, what we hear from chefs around the world is that there is a culinary excitement about Great Britain & Ireland and London in particular:  More chefs of international acclaim will continue to set up here – after all the market is vibrant, dynamic and diverse – and this will be a continuing trend.

On the accommodation side, where the smaller hotels and Bed and Breakfasts were concerned – an often over-used terms was ‘boutique’ – when in actual fact it might have been a pub with a couple of not so pleasant rooms upstairs: Now we inspect and find many of the smaller addresses equipped with Nespresso machines, iPod docks, fitted out with stylish furniture and offering fantastic breakfasts, so this represents a progression in this type of offering.

What is the current definition of Bib Gourmand and what does it mean to your readers?

The definition has not changed, it’s “good cooking at moderate prices,” it means a lot to our readers and to our inspectors.  While there have been two pubs this year; The Red Lion and The Hinds Head that have progressed to a star; it is not a stepping stone to a star, it is completely different.

The criteria is three courses for £28 and London sets the standard on the pricing because if you deliver the required level in London, then a restaurateur should be able to provide a similar quality elsewhere.  We’re not terribly rigid on the guideline so much as focused on the entire offering being in keeping ‘with the spirit of the award’: That is to say the wine, coffee and water have to have a consistent policy in line with the food pricing and consistent quality of product.

The award is important as there are only 137 Bib Gourmands in the Great Britain & Ireland Guide, with 38 new for 2013, 11 of those new addresses in London.

The Bib Gourmands are to be found from North Shields to Cornwall as well as the home counties.  In terms of London; Brasserie Zedel, Elliot’s, Soif, Copita, Barrica are all different and original and many of our readers will travel around the country searching out Bib Gourmands – a growing area of our Guide collection.

What do you make of the continued emergence of pubs with the ‘gastronomic touch’?

Just to re-define the question – it’s important for pubs to retain a clientele that will keep them ticking over all year round and in many instances that will be retaining customers that just come for something to drink as well as those wanting something to eat.

However, where talented chefs have gone into the pub market, it has given them the opportunity to express themselves in terms of their strength – the food – without perhaps some of the burdens that come with more traditional fine dining: Pubs are comfortable; natural venues to have tables without table clothes and more relaxed service and so on.

To have pubs serving quality food is good for the country; they uniquely form part of our culture and represent an important part of the British way of life abroad.  In the early days chefs were possibly reluctant to go into pubs as they may have felt forgotten about but in Michelin terms the recognition system is there for quality of food regardless of where that quality is found – as has been demonstrated with now 13 pubs in Great Britain & Ireland holding a Michelin star as well as The Hand & Flowers in Marlow with two stars.

In addition, there is The Michelin Eating out in Pubs Guide 2013, which is published on 1st November 2012, made by my team.  This guide has an ‘Inspectors Favourite’ award that reflects a slightly different set of criteria to the Michelin Guide to Great Britain & Ireland awards.  So you will find a broad selection of pubs that have the Michelin stamp of quality, be it a Bib Gourmand, Michelin Star(s) (Michelin GB&I Guide 2013) or Inspectors Favourite (Michelin Eating out in Pubs Guide).  The beauty of the Michelin Eating out in Pubs Guide is that it contains descriptions, photographs and a wealth of invaluable information to the reader who may be specifically seeking out pubs.

What do make of the dynamics of the market for restaurant guides?

What really separates Michelin is that we have full time professional inspectors who are benchmarking quality in restaurants, all year round, for their living.

Michelin also invest in their inspectors by ensuring they have a depth of international experience – inspectors from the Great Britain and Ireland Guide will have travelled to Asia, America and across Europe carrying out inspections.  Likewise inspectors from other regions will come and inspect restaurants in this territory.  This provides the best possible consistency and reliability of international benchmarking.  When restaurants are awarded a star they can be certain that their cuisine measures up against that provided anywhere else in the world.

At this time, Michelin is not planning to move away from annual publication of guides and associated awards.

Are there any global messages from Jean-Luc Naret’s successor as International Director, Michael Ellis?

Maintaining a smooth transition has been vitally important as what was in place was already strong with an opportunity to consolidate and build for the future.  The aim is to continue impartiality, invest in the inspectors and maintain independence.  At the same time, future expansion in coverage is always under consideration.

Tell us about the Michelin Main Cities of Europe Guide?

The publication date is the middle of March 2013 so the inspection process is on-going with visits by inspectors from across the globe inspecting in the ‘Main Cities’.  There will be a revised edition with many new entries.

It was good to see new stars coming through in Prague and Athens in 2012 as well as new two stars in Oslo and Vienna.  The Guide remains aimed at both business and leisure visitors.

What do you see as the future for the restaurant scene?

People will continue to keep on top of what they are doing, delivering the best possible end product while being careful with their money; this reflects equally upon the customers who are increasingly discerning in their choices, especially in difficult economic times.

The standard will continue to rise with the continually increasing number of talented chefs coming onto the restaurant scene.

Describe a day in the life of Rebecca Burr…

The fact that no two days are the same is what makes the job so interesting and rewarding.

I spend more time out of the office than in – it’s important for me to see a cross section; those with potential, the diversity, the trends as well as the established stars.

I also travel internationally quite extensively in the job – over and above visits to Paris – as part of the role of being a pro-active inspecting editor and decision maker.  I’m very proud of the team, from inspectors to administrators, who share the passion.  Together we are ambassadors of Michelin.

Michelin Great Britain and Ireland Press Release and Listing

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Michelin Great Britain & Ireland 2013

The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2013 will be available in bookshops from Friday 5 October 2012, priced at £14.99 (€16.99 in Ireland).

This year’s guide sees three restaurants promoted from one to two Michelin stars. Sketch, in Mayfair, opened in 2002 and received its first Michelin star in 2005; L’Enclume, in Cartmel also opened in 2002 and was awarded its first Michelin star three years later; while Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Bagshot, opened in 2007 and won its first Michelin star in 2009.

Editor, Rebecca Burr said: “These are three equally worthy recipients of our two star award but each restaurant is very different in nature. Michael Wignall’s cooking offers a distinct sense of sophistication, Jean Denis Le Bras at Sketch has a much more ambitious style, while Simon Rogan’s cooking has steadily evolved and is now much more aligned with nature.”

Eighteen restaurants have been awarded one Michelin star. The furthest north is James Close’s Raby Hunt in Summerhouse, Darlington, while the furthest south is Paul Ainsworth at No.6 in Padstow, Cornwall.  There are eight new one star establishments in London.

“I am very pleased to reveal that there are two further pubs included in this year’s star awards”, commented Burr. Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head in Bray, and Guy and Britt Manning’s Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury have received this distinction. “This suggests that the trend for British pubs acknowledging diners as well as drinkers, and striving to raise their standards of cooking, is continuing to move in a positive direction.

“There are also two one star additions in Ireland – Locks Brasserie in Dublin and Aniar in Galway. Like the pubs, these two offer fairly simple surroundings and focus their attention where it really matters: on excellent quality food”.

There are 39 new Bib Gourmands, 11 of which are in London. The Bib Gourmand recognises restaurants offering particularly good value for money – the current limit being £28 for three courses (€40 in Ireland).

“In difficult financial times, establishments awarded a Bib Gourmand have been a real hit with our readers, proving that providing good value for money doesn’t have to mean compromising standards”, concluded Burr.

In total, 346 restaurants and 138 hotels have been added to the guide this year; the ‘New’ (N) symbol has been introduced to highlight these establishments.

Also published on Friday 5th October is the Michelin Guide London 2013, priced at £10.99 (€12.99 in Ireland). This provides extended text on London’s restaurants, with additional photographs and information on all starred establishments. It also includes a selection of London’s best hotels, across all categories of comfort.

Download official pdf with full star listing and Bib Gourmands: Michelin_GBI_Star_and_Bib_Gourmands_Listing_2013

Michelin GB&I Bib Gourmands Defined and Listing 2013

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Bib Gourmand

The 2014 GB&I Michelin Guide version of this page is found here

In the unique “language” of the Michelin Guide, the Bib symbols indicate the inspectors’ favourite establishments, offering high-quality products and services and good value for the money.

For even though the Michelin Guide is known and recognised for its “star” system, these restaurants represent only 5% of the selection, the rest of which is comprised of good, small, affordably priced establishments.

Among these establishments are the “Bibs,” with the Bib Gourmand symbol for restaurants and the Bib Hotel symbol.

Bib is short for Bibendum, the character created in 1898 from the imagination of the Michelin brothers, André and Edouard, and the pen of cartoonist O’Galop. Over the years, Bib—the one and only Michelin Man—has become the Group’s “mascot.” In the Michelin Guide, Bibendum’s head is a familiar, widely recognised red symbol.

The Bib Gourmand symbol was created in 1997. It indicates a restaurant offering good food at moderate prices. For the 2013 Guide, the price of a full meal (excluding drinks) is under £28 (40 euros in the Republic of Ireland).

The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2013 includes 137 Bib Gourmands of which 38 are (New) Bib Gourmand restaurants, the full list is below:-

Aldeburgh, Suffolk, LighthouseMichelin GBI 2013 Cover
Bishopstone, Swindon, Royal Oak N
Blackpool/Thornton, Lancashire, Twelve
Brighton and Hove, West Sussex, Chilli Pickle
Brighton and Hove/Hove, West Sussex, Ginger Pig
Bristol, Flinty Red
Bristol, Greens’ Dining Room
Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, The Joiners
Bruton, Somerset, At The Chapel
Bury, Greater Manchester, Waggon
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, Pea Porridge
Chester, Chester West and Chester, Joseph Benjamin N
Clitheroe/Wiswell, Lancashire, Freemasons
Cookham, Windsor and Maidenhead, White Oak N
Darlington/Hurworth-on-Tees, Durham, Bay Horse
Donhead-St- Andrew, Wiltshire, The Forester N
Droxford, Hampshire, Bakers Arms
Durham, Bistro 21
East Haddon, Northamptonshire, Red Lion
Exeter/Rockbeare, Devon, Jack in the Green
Faversham/Oare, Kent, Three Mariners N
Gedney Dyke, Lincolnshire, Chequers N
Hastings & St Leonards, East Sussex, St. Clements
Henley-on-Thames/Stonor, Oxfordshire, Quince Tree N
Hitchin, Hertfordshire, hermitage rd N
Ingham, Norfolk, Ingham Swan
Jersey/Beaumont, Channel Islands, Mark Jordan at the Beach N
Kelvedon, Essex. George and Dragon
Keyston, Cambridgeshire, Pheasant N
Leeds, West Yorkshire, Create N
Leeds, West Yorkshire, Piazza by Anthony
Longparish, Hampshire, Plough Inn N
Longstock, Hampshire, Peat Spade Inn
Marazion/Perranuthnoe, Cornwall, Victoria Inn N
Masham, North Yorkshire, Vennell’s
Melton Mowbray/Stathern, Leicestershire, Red Lion Inn
Millbrook/Freathy, Cornwall, The View
Moreton-in-Marsh/Bourton-on-the-Hill, Gloucestershire, Horse & Groom N
Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, Broad Chare N
North Shields, Tyne and Wear, David Kennedy’s River Cafe N
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Ibérico World Tapas N
Oxford, Oxfordshire, Anchor
Oxford, Oxfordshire, Magdalen Arms
Oxford/Toot Baldon, Oxfordshire, Mole Inn
Padstow, Cornwall, Rick Stein’s Cafe

Penzance, Cornwall, Untitled by Robert Wright
Porthleven, Cornwall, Kota N
Preston Candover, Hampshire, Purefoy Arms
Ramsgate, Kent, Age and Sons
Romsey, Hampshire, Three Tuns
St Ives, Cornwall, Black Rock
Stamford, Lincolnshire, Jim’s Yard
Stanton, Suffolk, Leaping Hare
Tetbury, Gloucestershire, Gumstool Inn
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, Owens
Thorpe Market, Norfolk, Gunton Arms N
Wells, Somerset, Old Spot
West Hoathly, West Sussex, Cat Inn
West Pennard, Somerset, Apple Tree Inn N
Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, Bull Inn
Woolhope, Herefordshire, Butchers Arms
Wrington, North Somerset, The Ethicurean N
Wymondham, Leicestershire, Berkeley Arms
York, La Langhe N


Benderloch, Argyll and Bute, Hawthorn N
Edinburgh, Dogs
Glasgow City, Stravaigin
Kintyre/Kilberry, Argyll & Bute, Kilberry Inn
Peebles, Borders, Osso
Peebles, Borders, Restaurant at Kailzie Gardens N
Sorn, East Ayrshire, Sorn Inn


Brecon, Powys, Felin Fach Griffin
Cardiff, Mint & Mustard

Northern Ireland

Ballyclare, Antrim, Oregano
Belfast, Antrim, Cayenne
Holywood, North Down, Fontana
Warrenpoint, Down, Restaurant 23

Republic of Ireland

Adare, Limerick, White Sage
Carrickmacross, Monaghan, Courthouse N
Clonakilty, Cork, Deasy’s N
Clonegall, Carlow, Sha Roe Bistro
Dingle, Kerry, Chart House
Dublin, Pichet
Dublin, Pig’s Ear
Dublin/Clontarf, Dublin, Downstairs N
Duncannon, Wexford, Aldridge Lodge
Kinsale, Cork, Fishy Fishy Cafe
Lisdoonvarna, Clare, Wild Honey Inn
Lismore, Waterford, O’Brien Chop House
Roundstone, Galway, O’Dowd’s
Stepaside, Dublin, Box Tree


Willesden Green, Brent, Sushi Say
Bloomsbury, Camden, Barrica N
Bloomsbury, Camden, Giaconda Dining Room
Bloomsbury, Camden, Salt Yard
Camden Town, Camden, Made in Camden N
Camden Town, Camden, Market
Holborn, Camden, Great Queen Street
Swiss Cottage, Camden, Bradley’s
Canonbury, Islington, Trullo
Hackney, Hackney, Empress N
Shoreditch, Hackney, Princess of Shoreditch N
Hammersmith, Hammersmith and Fulham, Azou
Archway, Islington, 500
Clerkenwell, Islington, Comptoir Gascon
Finsbury, Islington, Medcalf
Finsbury, Islington, Morito
Islington, Islington, Drapers Arms
Clapham Common, Lambeth, Bistro Union N
Stockwell, Lambeth, Canton Arms
Wimbledon, Merton, Fox and Grapes
Wanstead, Redbridge, Provender N
East Sheen, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Mango and Silk
Teddington, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Simply Thai
Bermondsey, Southwark, José
Bermondsey, Southwark, Zucca
Southwark, Anchor and Hope
Southwark, Elliot’s N
Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, Brawn
Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, Corner Room N
Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets, Galvin Café a Vin
Spitalfields, Tower Hamlets, St John Bread and Wine
Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, Cafe Spice Namaste
Battersea, Wandsworth, Soif N
Southfields, Wandsworth, Triphal
Bayswater & Maida Vale, Westminster (City of), Hereford Road
Bayswater & Maida Vale, Westminster (City of), Kateh
Soho, Westminster (City of), Barrafina
Soho, Westminster (City of), Benja Bangkok Table
Soho, Westminster (City of), Bocca di Lupo
Soho, Westminster (City of), Brasserie Zédel N
Soho, Westminster (City of), Copita N
Soho, Westminster (City of), Koya
Soho, Westminster (City of), Polpo Soho
Strand & Covent Garden, Westminster (City of), Polpo Covent Garden
Strand & Covent Garden, Westminster (City of), Opera Tavern
Strand & Covent Garden, Westminster (City of), Terroirs

Michelin Guide New York 2013 Press Release

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Published on October 2, 2012 New York City’s culinary scene shines bright with a record number of coveted Michelin stars and nearly 900 restaurants recognized for excellence and quality

NEW YORK (Oct. 2, 2012)—In the latest edition of the highly anticipated MICHELIN Guide New York City 2013, a record 66 restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars.

All seven restaurants who achieved Michelin’s three star distinction in 2012 maintained top honors. Three Michelin stars is considered the utmost international recognition in the culinary world. One restaurant joined the ranks of the two-starred establishments, atera in Tribeca, for a total of seven in this category.  Fifty-two restaurants earned one Michelin star, including nine newcomers.

Inclusion in the Michelin Guide is an acknowledgment of culinary excellence and quality. In fact, 896 restaurants across the five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island were included in the selection this year, compared to 805 in 2012. Among them, MICHELIN Guide inspectors included 61 different cuisines, a testament to the culinary diversity found in New York City.

The release of the MICHELIN Guide New York City 2013 comes one week after Michelin announced the 126 restaurants who earned the distinction of Bib Gourmands.  These restaurants offer two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (excluding tax and gratuity) and are known as the Michelin inspector’s favorites for good value.

In the U.S., New York is one of three cities where Michelin publishes an annual guide. The seventh edition of the MICHELIN Guide San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country 2013 will be introduced October 24, and the MICHELIN Guide Chicago 2013 will be announced on November 13.

The eighth edition of the MICHELIN Guide New York City 2013 goes on sale Wednesday, October 3, at $18.99.

Michelin has done as much to enhance mobility as any company in the world. The company patented the pneumatic, or air-filled, tire in the late 1800s.  This was a milestone moment in mobility, permitting automobile owners to travel at great length in a single journey.  Then, in an effort to prompt travelers to enjoy their newfound mobility, the company created guides and detailed maps to steer travelers on their way. The most famous publication that developed from this is the internationally recognized MICHELIN Guide.

Thanks to the rigorous MICHELIN Guide selection process that is applied independently and consistently around 23 countries, the MICHELIN Guide has become an international benchmark in fine dining. The selections of all restaurants in the guide are made by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine across New York City regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence.  As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full.


Michelin’s Renowned Inspectors Select 126 of their

Favorite Restaurants at a Good Value

NEW YORK (September 26, 2012) – Fine food enthusiasts who love a good value rejoice: today Michelin released its largest list ever of New York City’s Bib Gourmands—establishments that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). Most importantly, these are restaurants that Michelin’s esteemed inspectors would frequent themselves.

The announcement comes exactly one week prior to the highly anticipated release of the MICHELIN Guide New York City 2013.

Inclusion in the MICHELIN Guide is synonymous with quality and the Bib Gourmand designation is a highly desired distinction among restaurateurs. In the 2013 edition, 126 New York City restaurants, which include a diverse range of 31 cuisine types, have been designated with the Bib Gourmand, compared to 114 last year.

The Bib Gourmands in New York City are selected by Michelin’s famously anonymous inspectors who dine across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island regularly. These local inspectors are trained to scrupulously apply the same time-tested methods used by Michelin inspectors for many decades throughout the world. This ensures a uniform, international standard of excellence.  As a further guarantee of complete objectivity, Michelin inspectors pay all their bills in full.

New York City MICHELIN Guide 2013

Bib Gourmands

Borough District Establishment
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill al Bustan
Queens Alobar
Queens Andy’s Seafood & Grill
Manhattan Lower East Side Ápizz
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District August
Queens Ayada
Brooklyn Baci & Abbracci
Queens Basil Brick Oven Pizza
Brooklyn Battersby
Manhattan Upper East Side Beyoglu
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Bianca
Queens Bistro 33
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Bohemian
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Boqueria
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Bread & Tulips
Brooklyn Buttermilk Channel
Brooklyn Calyer
Queens Casa Enríque
Brooklyn Char No. 4
Brooklyn Chavela’s
Manhattan Midtown West Cho Dang Gol
Manhattan Lower East Side Clinton St. Baking Company
Manhattan Chelsea Cô Ba
Manhattan Lower East Side Congee Village
Manhattan Chelsea Coppelia
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Crispo
Manhattan East Village DBGB Kitchen & Bar 
Manhattan Chinatown Dim Sum Go Go
Brooklyn Diner
Manhattan East Village Dirt Candy
Manhattan Midtown West Don Antonio by Starita
Brooklyn Do or Dine
Manhattan SoHo & Nolita Ed’s Lobster Bar
Brooklyn Egg
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill El Parador
Manhattan Harlem, Morningside & Washington Heights El Paso Taqueria
Staten Island Enoteca Maria
Manhattan Lower East Side Family Recipe
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Fatty Crab
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Fatty ‘Cue
Brooklyn Frankies 457 Spuntino
Brooklyn Franny’s
Manhattan Upper East Side Garden Court Café
Brooklyn General Greene (The)
Manhattan Upper West Side Gennaro
Brooklyn Good Fork (The)
Brooklyn Gran Eléctrica
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Great Sichuan
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill HanGawi
Bronx Havana Café
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Hecho en Dumbo
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Hill Country Chicken
Queens Hino Maru Ramen
Queens Hunan House
Queens Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square ‘inoteca e Liquori Bar(closed)
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Jaiya
Manhattan SoHo & Nolita Jean Claude
Manhattan Upper East Side J.G. Melon
Manhattan Harlem, Morningside & Washington Heights Jin Ramen
Manhattan Lower East Side Katz’s
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Kesté Pizza & Vino
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Land of Plenty
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Laut
Manhattan SoHo & Nolita L’Ecole
Manhattan East Village Lil’ Frankie’s
Queens Little Pepper
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Lupa
Queens Lu Xiang Yuan
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Mapo Tofu
Brooklyn Marlow & Sons
Manhattan Lower East Side Meatball Shop (The)
Manhattan Midtown West Mercato
Brooklyn Mesa Coyoacán
Brooklyn Mile End
Manhattan Upper West Side Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too
Manhattan East Village Momofuku Noodle Bar
Manhattan East Village Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Momokawa
Manhattan Chinatown New Malaysia
Manhattan East Village Northern Spy Food Co.
Brooklyn No. 7
Manhattan Chinatown Nyonya
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill OBAO
Manhattan Chinatown Oriental Garden
Queens Ornella
Manhattan TriBeCa Pane Panelle(closed)
Brooklyn Paulie Gee’s
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Perry Street
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Phoenix Garden
Brooklyn Pok Pok
Brooklyn Prime Meats
Manhattan East Village Prune
Brooklyn Purple Yam
Manhattan East Village Robataya
Brooklyn Roberta’s
Manhattan SoHo & Nolita Rubirosa
Brooklyn Rye
Queens Salt & Fat
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Saravanaas
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Seo
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Sip Sak
Manhattan SoHo & Nolita Snack
Manhattan East Village Soba-Ya
Brooklyn Speedy Romeo
Manhattan East Village Supper
Manhattan Upper West Side Sura
Manhattan Greenwich, West Village & Meatpacking District Surya
Manhattan Midtown West Szechuan Gourmet
Brooklyn Tanoreen
Bronx Tra Di Noi
Brooklyn Traif
Manhattan Gramercy, Flatiron & Union Square Turkish Kitchen
Queens Uncle Zhou
Manhattan Upper East Side Untitled
Manhattan Upper East Side Uva
Staten Island Vida
Brooklyn Vinegar Hill House
Manhattan Midtown East & Murray Hill Wild Edibles
Manhattan Lower East Side Yunnan Kitchen
Manhattan East Village Zabb Elee
Queens Zabb Elee
Bronx zero otto nove
Manhattan Harlem, Morningside & Washington Heights Zoma


Michelin famous travel guides are a product of Michelin’s longtime commitment to enhance mobility, not only by making the world’s best tires, but also by providing information that will add to the overall experience of traveling. This commitment started back in 1900, when the first MICHELIN Guide-the brain child of the Michelin brothers-was published and given “on a complimentary basis” to motorists and cyclists, who greatly outnumbered the 2,800 registered cars in France at the time. Soon the little book with the red cover became the leading travel guide in France. Today, the MICHELIN Guide covers places around the globe and has long been recognized internationally as the most prestigious standard for restaurant and hotel recommendations. Over the years, Michelin has created other esteemed travel guides, and, for many years, it has published highly-trusted maps. For its Green Guides, Maps and Must Sees, Michelin dispatches teams of writers and experts to locations all around the globe to research, identify and verify the information that is published. This consistent commitment to quality over the decades has made Michelin’s guides one of the most highly-regarded sources of travel information in the world.

AA Restaurant Guide 2013 Press Release

Posted on: October 16th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

September 26th 2012 The Country’s Top Restaurants Celebrate as AA Announces New Higher Rosette Awards

Some of the country’s top restaurants were celebrating last night when the AA announced the restaurants to achieve higher Rosette awards at the AA Hospitality Awards held last night at the London Hilton, Park Lane.

A restaurant’s food quality is assessed by the AA inspectorate, who award AA Rosettes to establishments demonstrating mastery and excellence in this field. The achievement of five Rosettes is the pinnacle for any chef, and identifies the finest restaurants in the British Isles, where the cooking stands comparison with the best in the world. These restaurants have highly individual voices, exhibit breathtaking culinary skills and set the standards to which
others aspire.

Winning the highest award of Five AA Rosettes was London restaurant, Hibiscus.

The new AA four Rosette restaurants for 2012-13 are:AA Restaurant Guide 2013
* The Pass Restaurant @ South Lodge Hotel – Lower Beeding
* Casamia – Bristol
* Pollen Street Social – London
* 7 Park Place by William Drabble – London

The new AA three Rosette restaurants for 2012-13 are:
* Orwells, Henley on Thames
* Roger Hickman’s Restaurant, Norwich
* Stoke Place, Stoke Poges
* Rib Room @ Jumeirah Carlton Towers, London
* Wolfgang Puck@ 45 Park Lane, London
* Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
* Cringletie House, Peebles
* Alyn Williams @ The Westbury, London
* The Dining Room @ Hilbark, Frankby
* Thirty Six by Nigel Mendham @ Dukes Hotel, London
* One Devonshire Gardens, Glasgow
* Gordon’s, Inverkelor
* The Old Inn, Drewsteignton
* The James Miller Room @ Turnberry
* Hipping Hall, Kirby Lonsdale
* Rocca Bar & Grill @ Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, St Andrews
* Mount Juliet, ROI
* The Longridge Restaurant, Longridge
* Airds, Port Apin
* Isle of Eriska, Eriska
* Plas Ynyshir Hall Hotel

The AA Hospitality Awards, hosted this year by Kate Silverton, saw the great and good of the country’s hospitality industry come together to celebrate not only the amazing achievements of the individuals and establishments receiving recognition for outstanding excellence in their field but also 20 years of the iconic AA Restaurant Guide. The evening opened with a tribute to the AA Restaurant Guide by Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc before the superb gourmet meal created by chef Jason Atherton and the team at the London Hilton Park Lane and entertainment from glamorous string quartet Siren.

The award event also sees the launch of the 2013 AA guides to UK hotels, restaurants, pubs and B&Bs which contain details of all the winning establishments.

The full list of winners at the AA Hospitality Awards 2012-13 is:

AA Hotel of the Year England – Lime Wood, Lyndhurst, Hampshire
AA Hotel of the Year Scotland – The Torridon, Torridon, Highlands
AA Hotel of the Year Wales – Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, Llandudno
AA Hotel of the Year London (sponsored by AA Business Insurance) – Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane, London W1
AA Restaurant of the Year England – The Church Green British Grill, Lymm, Cheshire
AA Restaurant of the Year Scotland – Rogano, Glasgow
AA Restaurant of the Year Wales – Sosban, Llanelli
AA Restaurant of the Year London (Sponsored by Food and Travel) – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London SW1
AA Wine Award England & Overall Winner (sponsored by T&W Wines) – L’Etranger, London
AA Wine Award Scotland (sponsored by T&W Wines) – Castle Terrace Restaurant, Edinburgh
AA Wine Award Wales (sponsored by T&W Wines) – The Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Wales
AA Pub of the Year England – The Black Swan, Ravenstonedale
AA Pub of the Year Scotland – West Brewery, Glasgow
AA Pub of the Year Wales – The Inn at Penallt, Monmouth
AA Small Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by beacon) – Cotswold Inns and Hotels
AA Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by D-ENERGi) – Hand Picked Hotels
AA Eco Hotel of the Year (sponsored by British Gas Business) – The Green House, Bournemouth
AA Eco Hotel Group of the Year (sponsored by British Gas Business) – Macdonald Hotels and Resorts
AA Chefs’ Chef (sponsored by – Pierre Koffmann
AA Lifetime Achievement – Antonio Carluccio OBE

The AA Restaurant Rosette Criteria Defined (Reminder as per 2009)

One rosette Chefs should display a mastery of basic techniques and be able to produce dishes of sound quality and clarity of flavours, using good, fresh ingredients.

Two rosettes Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level.

Three rosettes This award takes a restaurant into the big league. Expectations of the kitchen are high: exact technique, flair and imagination must come through in every dish, and balance and depth of flavour are all-important.

Four rosettes At this level, not only should all technical skills be exemplary, but there should also be daring ideas, and they must work. There is no room for disappointment. Flavours should be accurate and vibrant.

Five rosettes The supreme accolade awarded only when the cooking is at the pinnacle of achievement. Flavours, combinations and textures show a faultless sense of balance, giving each dish an extra dimension.

Restaurant Review: Half Moon, Cuxham (Oct 2012)

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Simon and Dean Bonwick

Father and son team - Simon & Dean Bonwick


Postscript: Simon and Dean Bonwick have subsequently moved on from The Half Moon at Cuxham to take up positions respectively as a Private Chef and front of house at a Michelin three star address.  Fine Dining Guide wish them every success in their next adventures!

Father and son Simon and Dean Bonwick recently embarked on an exciting new venture in Cuxham, a tiny hamlet deep in the countryside between Henley and Oxford. Under the new ownership of the Radhost group, they have taken over the Half Moon, a delightful 300 year inn with thatched roof, low beamed ceilings, stone floors and original fireplaces. With two dining areas separated by a central bar, they aim to offer high quality food and drink, served informally, in comfortable, relaxed surroundings. Whilst the concept is hardly original amongst food led pubs, the execution can so often be found wanting. Happily, this was not the case when Fine Dining Guide visited the Half Moon on a Tuesday evening in early October.

Not that this should be a surprise given the pedigree of those at the helm. Head chef Simon Bonwick has twenty years experience, most recently at The Black Boy in Hurley and The Three Tuns in Henley, both of which were recognised in major food guides. Manager Dean’s CV includes incomparable front of house experience at the Michelin starred Waterside Inn and Les Pres de Eugenie in France.

Connoisseurs of beer, wines and spirits will be enthused by the range craft beers, cask ales, the small slate of fine and rare vintages, English champagnes, single malts and rare eau de vies. The extensive list also offers wine by the glass and carafe

However, the main attraction is the daily changing menu offering five options in each course, supplemented by fresh fish and game specials. Given the quality of the cooking and the generous portion sizes, prices are eminently reasonable: starters are £4 to £7; mains £11 to £15; and desserts £5.50. An excellent value two course set lunch is a mere £10.

Using the finest of seasonal and local ingredients, Simon Bonwick’s cooking, based on classical techniques with occasional Middle Eastern influences, exhibits strong, robust flavours, harmonious combinations, precise timing and simple, elegant presentation.

Our menu comprised mixture of dishes from the menu and specials of the day

A first course saw herb flecked risotto cooked to a well judged, creamy consistency garnished with sauted wild mushrooms, the deep earthiness and sublime fragrance of which balanced the soft texture and delicate flavour of the rice. (Wine: Veuve Clicquot Rose, 2004)

Half Moon Risotto

Next came a generously sliced torchon of foie gras. This delectable piece of offal, skilfully marinated, poached, chilled and rolled, had a silky buttery texture and mild creamy liver flavour. It sat on a bed of Puy lentils cooked al dente and dressed with Xeres vinegar which gave textural contrast and a gentle acidity to balance the richness of the foie gras. The accompanying toasted brioche was a model of its kind. (Wine: Juracon “Jardin de Babylone”, 2009)

Half Moon Foie Gras

A well timed fillet of Dover sole came with “Dukkah seasoning,” a flavoursome crust of herbs, nuts and spices. This Egyptian influence, possibly the result of Simon Bonwick’s time as personal chef to the Al Fayed family, gave a Middle Eastern feel to the dish. The braised butter bean accompaniment added complexity with its “bitter notes” seasoning. (Wine: Chateau Mousar White, 2004)

Half Moon Dover Sole

The “Assiette aux trois saveurs,” was a veritable tour de force of meat and game cookery. Braised veal cheek was unctuously rich with a melting texture. Partridge farci, was beautifully tender with a gentle gaminess. And “coco” loin of venison, cooked medium rare, showed the meat at its best. A deeply flavoured reduced red wine sauce, spiked with rowanberry  to add a hint of sweetness, brought these elements together well.  (Wine: Chateauneuf du pape, “Vieux Telegraph”, 2000)

Half Moon - Trio of Meat

Desserts, created by Marc Paley, showed the pastry section was also on top form.

Mango, raspberry and passion fruit sorbets impressed with their intense tastes and smooth textures. Basboussa, a light Egyptian semolina cake laced with syrup, came with an attractive western garnish of white chocolate and fresh raspberries. Rich lemon posset had a good balance of sweetness and acidity. The accompanying tuile and brandy snap biscuits were particularly fine. (Wine: Chateau Guiraud, 1999)

Half Moon - Lemon Posset

Other aspects of the meal, the breads at the start and truffles and shortbread with coffee were all well made.

Wines were chosen and dishes served by Dean Bonwick, who trained under the master of front of house service, Diego Masciaga of The Waterside Inn. Dean’s natural charm, combined with professional etiquette and detailed knowledge of the food and wine, made him the perfect host.

Overall, our meal was a highly memorable one. As the first joint enterprise by father and son, the Half Moon deserves to succeed.

Once news spreads, the disadvantages of its location – on a B road north of  Watlington – will be outweighed by the excellence of its food, drink and service. We wish Simon and Dean well.