Archive for September, 2013

Michelin Guide 2014: Interview Questions to Editors

Posted on: September 26th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Below is a taster of questions put to the Michelin hierarchy in interviews this week.  Michael Ellis – International Director Michelin Guides – was available in London on September 25th for a one hour interview and Rebecca Burr will be interviewed on the afternoon of the 26th September in London.

Transcript of repsonses to follow:-

Questions for Michael Ellis (International Director Michelin Guides):-

What are your exact roles and responsibilities within Michelin?

Tell us some background about yourself?

How has the transition been from Jean-Luc Naret’s tenure?

What interesting trends do you see in dining in Europe and more specifically GBI and London?

How do you see Michelin comapred to ‘reader-led’ guides such as Trip Advisor, Zagat (Google +)?

How do you ensure a star in New York equals a star in Paris equals a star in Tokyo?

A distinct dining trend is to the “informal” and “accessible”, how does the guide reflect this trend?

What are the keys to staying relevant and solvent in the information age?

How do you feel about the fact that the top end chef world see Michelin as a career benchmarking objective?

Any plans for new city coverage?

A GB Finacial Times article a couple of years ago talked about the cost of the Guide…what about the value?

The UK Good Food Guide was recently sold by Which? to Waitrose (Major Food Store), any plans for Michelin PLC to sell “The Guide”?

Questions for Rebecca Burr (Editor Michelin Guides GB&I and Main Cities of Europe):-

How would you describe, using a paragraph for each: ‘What makes a restaurant with a Michelin star; two stars and three stars’?

How would you describe the general Michelin starred restaurant landscape in 2014?

How are restaurants fairing in the economic times?

Would it be too strong to suggest there has been a cultural shift toward dining out?

What is happening at the very top end of the market – three and two star?

What trends in dining do you see arising through 2013 and for the future (2014 and beyond)?

What’s new with Bib Gourmand?

The longer descriptions of the London Guide seem well received?

When is Main Cities of Europe due for publication and what can we expect?

What news of the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide?

Are there any strategy changes in the pipeline?



AA Restaurant Guide 2014 Launched

Posted on: September 24th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

The AA Restaurant Guide 2014 has been launched at The London Hilton, Park Lane amidst a galmorous gala dinner.  The new Rosette and Award winners are listed below.  The chef for the evening meal was Sat Bains.

The restaurants awarded NEW five, four and three AA Rosettes for 2013-14 are:

Gidleigh Park, Chagford
Midsummer House, Cambridge

L’Ortolan, Shinfield
Launceston Place, London
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchesster, London
Murano, London
Hand and Flowers, Marlow
Cliff House, Ardmore

The Ardeonaig Hotel and Restaurant, Killin
Linthwaite House Hotel and Restaurant, Windemere
Airds, Port Appin
Abbey Hotel, Bath
Artichoke, Amersham
Medlar, London
Greenhouse, London
Outlaw’s at the Capital, London
The Olive Tree at the Queensberry Hotel, Bath
Ye Olde Bulls Head, Beaumaris
Coworth Park, Ascot
The French by Simon Rogan, Manchester
Winteringham Fields, Winterinham
Brasserie Chavot, London
Rushton Hall, Kettering
Restaurant 23 and Morgan’s Bar, Royal Leamington Spa
Brockencote Hall, Chaddesley Corbett
Pompadour by Galvin, Edinburgh
The Samling, Windemere
Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Windermere
The Halkin, London
Bohemia, St Helier
Social Eating House, London
The Angel Inn, Hetton
Rockliffe Hall, Darlington
Glennap Castle, Ballantrae
Alexander House, Turners Hill
Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter
Longshott Manor, Horley

The 2013-14 AA Hospitality Award winners are:

AA Chefs’ Chef of the Year Tom Kerridge

AA Lifetime Achievement Award Harry Murray

AA Hotel of the Year
England Gravetye Manor, East Grinstead
Wales Llangoed Hall, Llyswen
Scotland Cringletie House, Peebles
London Dukes, London

AA Restaurant of the Year
England The Artichoke, Amersham
Wales Ye Olde Bulls Head, Beaumaris
Scotland Ondine Restaurant, Edinburgh
London Medlar, London

AA Wine Award
Scotland and overall The Witchery By The Castle, Edinburgh
England Northcote, Llangho
Wales Park House, Cardiff

AA Pub of the Year
England Elveden Inn, Elveden
WalesThe Groes Inn, Conwy
Scotland The Sheep Heid Inn, Edinburgh

AA Small Hotel Group of the Year Red Carnation Hotels
AA Hotel Group of the Year Macdonald Hotels
AA Eco Hotel and Eco Hotel Group of the Year
Eco Hotel Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton
Eco Hotel Group Accor Hotels

AA Food Service Award The Waterside Inn, Bray

Restaurant Review: Charlotte’s Bistro (August 2013)

Posted on: September 8th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Chiswick and the area around Turnham Green offer a plethora of choice when it comes to middle-priced dining. The High Road is littered with the predictable and rather tired chains, offering a mediocre quality such that one could hardly claim a bounty of bistros. For this reason Charlotte’s Bistro is a very welcome addition to the otherwise lacklustre crown of middle-priced establishments.

Charlotte’s Bistro opened its doors in February 2010 on the site of a former Fishworks restaurant; two minutes walk from Turnham Green station. Over the last few years the team at Charlotte’s Bistro have acquired a fiercely loyal local following.


Fine Dining Guide visited on a Monday evening. Expecting this to be a quieter night for any establishment, we were impressed by the buzz, with over 40 of the 56 covers taken. There was also a sizeable crowd around the bar area.

It is perhaps not surprising that the team behind Charlotte’s Bistro have had such success in a relatively short space of time. The pedigree has been long established, with over 27 years experience of delivering quality at one of Ealing’s best-loved establishments, Charlotte’s Place. The formula has been expertly tweaked to meet the evident gap in the Chiswick market.

We arrived slightly too late to enjoy the Monday night gin school, a regular feature for July and August. Thankfully we were not too late to sample the 6 O’clock Gin, a brilliantly balanced Gin produced by Bramley and Gage in Thornbury, Gloucestershire.

Gin is a staple of the drinks menu, with lots of exciting choices to perfect the staple Gin and Tonic. There’s also an attractive selection of Gin Cocktails. We decided to partake of the Charlotte’s Cup (a house variation on Pimms) and the intriguingly named Bowler Hat Trick (gin with fresh melon juice) whilst pondering the food menu.

The restaurant itself is compact, yet comfortable. On acquiring the site, the current team covered the outdoor dining area with a large glass roof. This gives the best of both worlds, with a light airy dining space protected from the elements. The furnishings are simple, yet comfortable and in keeping with the Bistro feel.

The Menu offers a good variety and is reasonably priced. There are six or seven options for each course, with prices £24.95 for two course or £29.95 for three. This is even better value for those dining Monday-Friday lunchtimes with the same menu at £15.95 or £18.95. The wine list offers similar excellent value and has been expertly compiled, with wines by the glass and bottle. We sampled a Pinot Noir, Johanneshof-Reinisch (Austria), which at £38 felt like an absolute steal.

For the first course we both opted for fish. The potted salmon was delicately flavoured with the classic accompaniment of dill and was generously portioned in a rustic glass jar. The accompanying soda bread was dark and nutty and offered in ample quantity. The construction of the Whitebait brought new life to a much hackneyed dish. The fish was accompanied by a tangy and pungent garlic mayonnaise and balanced off with diced lemon flesh and croutons. Alternatives to start with included a terrine and soup.

Charlotte's Bistro_Starter

The value for money offered by the menu is most evident in the selection of main courses, especially given the quality of ingredients and expert cooking in evidence from Head Chef Alan Barrins and his team. Side dishes such as buttered greens and Hand Cut Chips are extra at £3.50 a piece, but this is hardly expensive by comparison to some of the competition.

The braised short rib of Ruby Red Beef was an absolute delight, meltingly tender and cooked to perfection. The accompanying Heritage Tomato and Bread Salad was fresh and herbaceous with a subtle hint of basil pesto. The Chips were fat and crispy and incredibly moreish, a good accompaniment to both of the main courses. Our other choice was the crispy Creedy duck leg, again very tender, indeed, the epitome of a well-executed confit.

Charlotte's Bistro Duck Leg

The dessert menu offered an array of classic bistro fare with a seasonal twist. The raspberry sorbet combined a velvety texture with intense flavour, nicely balanced with homemade butter biscuits. The Cranachan, which seemed to have great promise, was the only disappointment of the evening. The proportions of cream and raspberries were out of balance and the surfeit of cream and lacked booziness. Nevertheless, there were many enticing alternatives, including a very tempting vanilla cheesecake with seasonal berries. Cheese was another alternative available for a small supplement of £3.


With a good range of reasonably priced dessert wines and liqueurs to finish things off, the only question we were left with was why, considering the excellent quality and keen pricing, do others still choose mediocrity when there’s an option like Charlotte’s Bistro?

Postscript: Charlotte’s Bistrot rebranded Charlotte’s W4 (April 2015)


Waitrose Good Food Guide: Press Release (2014)

Posted on: September 3rd, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Simon Rogan’s Cumbrian restaurant, L’Enclume, reaches top spot as the Waitrose Good Food Guide announces best restaurants in the UK

Chef Simon Rogan’s Cumbrian restaurant, L’Enclume, has achieved the top spot in Waitrose Good Food Guide 20141 for the very first time, it is revealed today, as the bestselling restaurant guide publishes its annual ranking of the UK’s Top 50 restaurants2.

Good Food Guide 2014Restaurants in the Good Food Guide are awarded a cooking score out of ten, with L’Enclume achieving the top score for the second year in a row. In the number two spot is Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, which has scored a perfect ten for six years in a row – longer than any other restaurant since the guide adopted its current scoring system3. Currently, L’Enclume and The Fat Duck are the only two restaurants in the UK to achieve such a score.

Elizabeth Carter, Consultant Editor of the Good Food Guide, explains what makes L’Enclume so special: ‘After achieving the top score in last year’s Guide, Rogan and his team haven’t missed a beat, despite the pressures of the past year – from opening the French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester to overseeing a pop-up restaurant in London. Rogan rightfully takes his place as leader of the pack when it comes to modern British cooking. His fantastic way with seasonal ingredients from the Cumbrian land and coast brings dishes that are a joyful celebration of this county’s magnificent diversity. L’Enclume is truly deserving of the number one spot.’

Simon Rogan, head chef at L’Enclume, comments on his success: ‘I’m so proud of my staff and this phenomenal achievement with The Good Food Guide. This is something we have always dreamed about. We have received this accolade because of our focus on both the food product and the customer – keeping it natural and fresh in the kitchen, and friendly but professional in the dining room. The development of the infrastructure behind the scenes has also been a key factor to our success as we are constantly evolving and improving what we have in place, and will continue to do so.’

The Good Food Guide’s annual Top 50 restaurant ranking is highly regarded by chefs and restaurant-goers alike, with particular attention paid to those chefs and restaurants who make it into the Top 10.  The 2014 edition has seen all ten restaurants from 2013 hang on to their Top 10 ranking, with Cornish favourite Restaurant Nathan Outlaw rising to number three.  Restaurant Sat Bains, in Nottinghamshire, and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London are at the number four and five respectively. Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social in London remains at number six. Hibiscus, The Square and The Ledbury, also in London, have risen to spots seven, eight and nine respectively.  Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is ranked at number ten.


Details of the top 10 restaurants, including cooking scores, are as follows:

Cooking scores are between one and ten.  Last year’s Top 50 ranking is shown in brackets.

1.        L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria. Cooking score 10. (2)

2.        The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire. Cooking score 10. (1)

3.        Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Rock, Cornwall. Cooking score 9. (5)

4.        Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham. Cooking score 9. (3)

5.        Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London. Cooking score 9. (4)

6.        Pollen Street Social, London. Cooking score 9. (6)

7.        Hibiscus, London. Cooking score 8. (8)

8.        The Square, London. Cooking score 8. (9)

9.        The Ledbury, London. Cooking score 8. (10)

10.        Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire. Cooking score 8. (7)

Rest of the Top 50 Restaurants in Waitrose Good Food Guide 2014 (cooking scores in brackets)

11. Le Champignon Sauvage, Gloucestershire (8)

12. The French, Manchester (8)

13. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, London (8)

14. Midsummer House, Cambridgeshire (8)

15. Le Gavroche, London (8)

16. Whatley Manor, The Dining Room, Wiltshire (8)

17. Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London (8)

18. The Waterside Inn, Berkshire (7)

19. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London (7)

20. Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Tayside (7)

21. The Kitchin, Edinburgh (7)

22. Pied-à-Terre, London (7)

23. Fraiche, Merseyside (7)

24. Gidleigh Park, Devon (7)

25. Michael Wignall at the Latymer, Surrey (7)

26. Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh (7)

27. Murano, London (7)

28. The Peat Inn, Fife (7)

29. Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Derbyshire (7)

30. Hambleton Hall, Rutland (7)

31. Artichoke, Buckinghamshire (7)

32. Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, Cornwall (7)

33. The Pass, West Sussex (7)

34. The Old Vicarage, Ridgeway, Derbyshire (7)

35. The Hand & Flowers, Buckinghamshire (6)

36. Mr Underhill’s, Shropshire (6)

37. Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, London (6)

38. Purnell’s, West Midlands (6)

39. The Sportsman, Kent (6)

40. Tyddyn Llan, Denbighshire (6)

41. The Yorke Arms, Ramsgill, North Yorkshire (6)

42. Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire (6)

43. OX, Belfast (6)

44. The Royal Oak, Paley Street, Berkshire (6)

45. The Red Lion, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire (6)

46. Castle Terrace, Edinburgh (6)

47. Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire (6)

48. The Clove Club, London (6)

49. The Box Tree, West Yorkshire (6)

50. Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk (6)