Archive for October, 2013

Restaurant Review: Le Champignon Sauvage (Oct 2013)

Posted on: October 21st, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood


How often have you eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant and the chef has not been there? The more stars, the greater likelihood of celebrity opportunities outside the kitchen, with the absent chef becoming an increasing phenomenon in the world of fine dining.

Not so at Le Champignon Sauvage, where David Everitt-Matthias has not missed a service since its opening in 1987. This amazing record – surely unmatched by chefs at this level – allied with excellent technical skill and creativity have produced food of a consistent stellar quality, earning him a first Michelin star in 1995, with a second in 2000.

The modest, unassuming personalities of both David and his charming wife Helen are reflected in the restaurant they first set up 1987.  Located in a semi residential area a short walk from Cheltenham’s town centre, Le Champignon Sauvage’s unremarkable two storey blue and white exterior merges unobtrusively into the parade of shops and restaurants either side. Indeed, the tiny entrance porch, where the menu is also displayed, can easily be missed by first time diners. Inside, the small bar with deep, comfortable leather settees leads to the main dining room on the right. Originally with 28 covers on nine tables, it doubled in size with the takeover of the picture framer’s next door in 2005. Despite this, and the increased demand following the second Michelin star five years earlier, it says much for the couple’s concern for the comfort of their diners that they decided only to add four extra tables and retain only one sitting.


David & Helen Everitt-Matthias


The décor and furnishings of the room combine elegant, traditional formality with splashes of contemporary design. The two toned walls of maple panelling and mushroom paint have a pleasing, soothing effect. Eclectic modern art and large mirrors enliven this background, adding to the sense of space. Wooden slated blinds over the sash windows give both light and privacy. Clever spotlighting at night allows dishes to be admired in all their glory.  Tables dressed in fine linen are well spaced, with the round ones on the left hand side of the restaurant made especially attractive with pleated under-cloths, pendant lighting and banquette seating.  Acoustics are excellent, with parts of the original dividing wall deflecting sound waves from the other half of the room.

ChampignonSauvage_Interior 1

Passion is a much overused and devalued word in gastronomic circles, but one that truly does apply in David’s case. Now, with some 35 years’ experience, he still talks enthusiastically about all aspects of food, as if he were new to the profession.  Whether creating new recipes, updating older ones, manning a busy service or passing on his wisdom to his small team, the overwhelming impression is of someone happiest in the kitchen. This is also literally true for diners, as, unlike many other Michelin starred chefs, he does not visit tables after service, preferring to let the food do his talking.

Such understatement has enabled him to keep a relatively low public profile amongst top chefs. Not that he treats television appearances with disdain, but is extremely selective and will only participate when the restaurant is closed.

Nevertheless, the high esteem in which he is held in the industry has led to numerous accolades.  In a career already distinguished by a host of awards, such as the 2007 Catey Chef of the Year, through to the current edition of the Good Food Guide when crowned their Chef of the Year.  A permanent feature of the major food guides, with four AA rosettes and 8/10 in The Good Food Guide, Le Champignon Sauvage’s position as one of the leading restaurants in the UK is assured.

At the heart of David’s modern French cuisine is the extraction and enhancement of flavour, encapsulated in the word “Essence” which is employed in the titles of two of his ground breaking cookbooks. The use of both classical and more modern techniques, the judicious addition of herbs and spices, and a willingness to experiment, adapt and refine, have all been to this end. He predates food trends such as the use of seasonal, British and locally sourced produce, nose to tail eating  and foraging  by at least ten years, and has embraced aspects of molecular gastronomy but not been overwhelmed by it. Whilst acknowledging the influence of his fellow chefs, David’s food retains his own individual stamp, its integrity having stood the test of time and fashion, and is all the better for it.


Flavour and texture combinations are always harmonious and often unusual, sometimes mixing luxurious with humble ingredients. Seared scallops with carpaccio of pig’s head, pressed terrine of rabbit with brown trout, and sea bream with baby squid and chorizo cream might all feature on the menu. The use of wild food, not for decoration but as an integral part of the dish, is also notable. Consider, for instance, butter poached dabs with wilted ground elder, stonecrop garnishing beef tartare or Cinderford lamb with dandelion

Attention to detail is exceptional. For example, flavoured foams are prevented from collapsing too quickly by the use of soya lecithin granules to stabilise them.  The preparation of leek ashes involves a complicated process of blanching, grilling, grinding and sieving to produce what is a small, but essential, part of a dish. The presentation of both sweet and savoury courses is exquisite, with a conscious artistry that avoids overcrowding the plate – white porcelain or dark stoneware – which themselves are carefully selected to showcase their contents.

For a two starred establishment, the menu structure and pricing offers excellent value for money. A set lunch and dinner (not Saturdays) menu is £26 for two courses, £32 for three with coffee and petit fours a mere £3 extra. The a la carte menu, with five or six options in each course, ranges from £48, £59 or £67 for two, three or four courses (dessert and cheese).  A seven course tasting menu with an amuse bouche and pre dessert is £85, a bargain compared with London restaurants of a similar or lower standard.

Fine-Dining-Guide visited on a busy Thursday evening in October and found an embarrassment of riches in the tasting menu.

Amongst a selection of delightful canapés were cubes of rich but not over salty parmesan custard coated with chorizo crumbs. These produced a veritable taste sensation. Miniature sweetcorn and bacon muffins were moist and flavoursome, whilst brioche crisps with nettle and goat’s cheese dip gave contrasting tastes and textures. Such delicious, original and labour intensive preparations at this early stage of the meal augured well for what was to follow.


How fitting, given the restaurant’s name, that the amuse bouche should feature a shot of warm honey fungus veloute topped with garlic foam, a classic combination of earthy and herby flavours that worked well together.

A favourite amongst the warm, home- made breads is the bacon brioche, suitably buttery, soft, light and crumbly. The granary, white and poppy seed alternatives all benefitted from a good bake, with crisp crusts and firm crumb.

Dexter beef tartare, with its marbled grain and darker colour, was accurately seasoned with a well-balanced mixture of capers, shallots, mustard and parsley, and bound with olive oil. The accompanying corned beef, involving more labourious, time consuming preparation, had a smoother texture with contrasting mouth feel but equally unctuous flavour. Garnishes of tiny pickled onions and Shimeji mushrooms, bread crisps and stonecrop stems gave contrasting flavours and textures, whilst the whole dish was lifted by a lively but overpowering wasabi cream.


A dish of utterly fresh Salcombe crab saw the sweet white meat spiked with herbs and dressed with a coconut veloute. In contrast, and true to his philosophy of using the whole animal to avoid waste, the crab jelly, made from the shells and brown meat, had a deep crustacean flavour. White asparagus gave an al dente crunch to a dish finished off with a herbal garnish.


Large, hand dived scallops form Scotland were precisely seared to produce a seared caramelised crust encasing soft, sweet flesh. Apple matchsticks and pickled beetroot gave a gentle, balancing acidity, whilst the inspired finishing touch was an apple puree with a hint of smokiness.


The next dish was the most inventive on the menu, using heritage vegetables as the star. Buttered Witchill potatoes, turned in leek ashes and set on a caramelised onion puree of sweet intensity, were offset by a mild buffalo milk jelly and seasoned by delicate slices of turkey prosciutto – another original preparation which testifies to the chef’s fertile imagination.


Cinderford, near the Forest of Dean, is the chef’s favoured source for lamb. The tender, fully flavoured and accurately seasoned chump was served with roasted sweetbreads, the soft milky texture of which complemented the main cut perfectly. Wilted dandelion with its caramelised root gave a gentle bitterness which balanced the orange and goat’s curd accompaniments.


With the savoury courses over, desserts can often be an anti-climax on tasting menus, another failing which Le Champignon Sauvage avoids. Indeed, given that David has devoted a whole book to desserts, this part of the meal offered extra excitement.

A pre-dessert featured damson parfait, the mild astringency of which was countered by a yogurt foam.

The first dessert featured Bergamot parfait, encased in a gel of bergamot and orange, and partnered with liquorice cream and orange jelly. This combination of Earl Grey tea fragrance, citrus and aniseed, topped with a liquorice tuile, was a veritable tour de force in conception and execution.


Chocolate delice with beurre noisette and butterscotch is a variation of one of  David’s classics – chocolate delice with salted caramel. Here the addition of beurre noisette added a certain nuttiness to the finished dish. The accompanying milk ice cream helped to moderate the rich bitterness of the chocolate.


This highly accomplished meal was not over yet. Given the succession of preceding courses, we could only admire if not consume the tray of petits fours served with expresso coffee.  Lime leaf chocolate truffles, bitter chocolate fudge, blackcurrant and liquorice jelly, and chicory macaroons might all  feature. Best of all is the miniature savarin, oozing with rum syrup and glazed with apricot jam. Together they put to shame the perfunctory specimens often served in many high end restaurants.

A meal at Le Champignon Sauvage is a real joy, not only because of the food. Guests are always assured of a warm, friendly welcome by Helen who guides her young front of house team with seamless efficiency.  Service, led by Justyna Juszczuk, is at once knowledgeable and solicitous, without being obtrusive.

Ultimately the success of Le Champignon Sauvage lies in a remarkable team effort, ably led by the chef patron. His sharing, caring qualities are seen in the mentoring of his small brigade of whom he is highly protective. Whether in the kitchen, front of house or foraging in the nearby countryside, those who work at the restaurant are given full credit, as seen in the photographs in his three cookbooks.

Le Champignon Sauvage moves from strength to strength. David’s most recent accolade, for Outstanding Contribution to Food in the 2013 Observer Food Monthly Awards, recognises his enviable achievement. But here is a chef not even at the top of his game as his seemingly inexhaustible creative energies and capacity to learn indicate there is so much more to give. The UK needs a three starred restaurant outside the south east and Le Champignon Sauvage is a strong contender.  We await the next Michelin guide with eager anticipation

Restaurant Review: The Only Running Footman (Oct 2013)

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Only Running Footman Restaurant

The name, The Only Running Footman, conjures an image from another era, of a smartly liveried man servant perspiring at the hurried pace of his impatient master. This contrasts completely to the tranquillity of this historic Mayfair gastro pub and restaurant, which offers a relaxed haven for dining right in the frenetic heart of the West End.

On first appearances, the downstairs bar area seems to draw a sizeable number of after work regulars. Fine Dining Guide visited on a pleasant September evening when the crowd of drinkers spilled out onto the street in the classic London pose, pint in hand. Whilst downstairs very much feels like a thriving pub, the upper two floors have been converted into spaces for dining. The first floor dining room is an intimate space with about 70 covers. Soft furnishings, muted colours and dulled lighting all give the feel of a Victorian parlour, though pleasingly far more comfortable.

We were welcomed to our table by Magda, our warm and attentive host for the evening. She began with the unfortunate news that two of the predictably popular dishes – a ham hock and foie gras terrine and Onglet and chips – had regrettably run out so early in the evening – 8.00pm.  Nevertheless, the menu offered a number of interesting alternatives, including 3-4 other specials.

The Executive Chef, Eddie Kouadio, has over five years of service and has put together a menu of impressive breadth. There are almost a dozen options for main course, ranging from traditional pub grub through to more distinctive fayre.

Fine Dining Guide chose from the a la carte menu. Main courses varied from £15-£27, with starters and desserts typically around the £6-£9 mark. There is also a decent wine list with bottles from £20 through to £325, from which we selected a perfectly pleasant Sangiovese, Elqui Valley Chile, £27.50.

For the first course we both opted for seafood. The tian of Cromer crab with avocado comprised white meat interspersed with the avocado, leaves and dressing. This tasted very fresh, particularly when cut through with juice from an accompanying wedge of lime. However, it would have benefitted from  more seasoning, and, perhaps, have been more flavoursome if a little of the brown meat had been used.

Only Running Footman Crab

The crispy squid with lime aioli was encased in a crispy batter which protected the delicate flesh, and together with the chilli, lime and coriander gave a fresh oriental kick.  As with the crab, more generous seasoning would have raised this dish from a good to an excellent one.

Only Running Footman Squid

Bereft of the Onglet, we sought a bovine fix from a Cote de Beouf. This was accurately char-grilled to medium rare, maximising the succulence of the cut. Lip smacking roasting juices, reduced to intensify their smoky sweetness, did full justice to the beef. The intriguing “Stealth fries”, which turned out to be thin cut chips, failed to steal the show but were perfect partner for the meat.

Only Running Footman Beef

We also sampled a Chicken and Mustard Pie. The mustard made for an innovative (for chicken) addition to the chicken filling, which was topped with an impressive dome of flaky pastry. Although a staple of any pub, the pie was well executed comfort food, an homage to an English classic.

Only Running Footman Chicken Pie

Prior to dessert we decided to partake of the selection of British and French cheeses. This was well curated and comprised a number of classics such as Wigmore, Reblochon and Caerphilly. The cheeses were served in perfect condition of ripeness and temperature.

We finished the meal choosing from the tempting dessert menu. A highlight was the autumn fruit and nut crumble, a dish textured with perfectly cooked apple and a crunchy nut based topping. The sharpness of the fruit contrasted well with the sweet crumble. Our other choice, the passion fruit sorbet, was less of a triumph, lacking the lingering taste of this aromatic, sweet and astringent fruit.

As we finished our means and the tables emptied around us, it was apparent that the buoyant trade of the evening was a testament to what the team do well and the appreciative following they have established. The offering is not flawless and is trapped in the difficult territory between pub and fine dining. However, it is doubtless the case that the Only Running Footman is ahead of the many in the gastro pub pack.

Michelin Guide: Interview, Worldwide Director Michael Ellis

Posted on: October 7th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Michael Ellis Michelin

Michael Ellis, Michelin.

Michael Ellis quietly took the international helm of the Michelin Guides from Jean-Luc Naret a couple of years ago.  In what is perhaps a European web first, Michael gives an in-depth interview with fine dining guide.  Interview took place at Grainstore, St Pancras, September 25th 2013.  Here is what Michael had to say:-

What are your exact roles and responsibilities within Michelin?

I currently look after all editorial and production activities of the Michelin Guides worldwide.  That covers over twenty Guides in over twenty countries.  Some, for example, such as Great Britain & Ireland, France, Germany and Italy have their own national guides, whereas other books will reflect cities around the world such as New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.

The global team of inspectors and writers that produce those guides are my responsibility.  There are editorial leaders in each region – US, Europe and Asia – who report directly into me regarding the operational running of each team in each geography.

Tell us some background about yourself?

Born in the United States, I studied modern European languages at university; principally French, Spanish and Italian.  This also involved traveling overseas and I quickly learned that living abroad might be appealing.

On a visit in 1979, I decided that I would train as a chef in Paris! I worked for my CAP (certificat d’aptitude professionnel) and spent a year working in a Michelin starred kitchen.  While it was a great learning experience, the regimented regime coupled with long hours was perhaps too much for me so I decided I would make a better customer than chef.

I finished my studies back in the USA before returning to France in the mid 1980s to complete an MBA at INSEAD. I worked through various sales and marketing positions: From wines and spirits to packaging to Club Med cruises before being recruited by Michelin to look after sales and marketing for their Motorcycle Division.

I had always been a fan of The Michelin Guides, both personally and professionally; they had proven a kind of bible when travelling with customers on business or indeed when just looking for a great restaurant for pleasure. So in a career review meeting I asked if anything might be available in The Michelin Guides and some weeks later I found myself in this role.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying every minute of the job.

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

I believe it is more a case of continuing a philosophy (and the values) of Michelin going forward, something which transcends any individual in a role. There are on-going parameters around which any restaurant will be assessed for ‘star entry’ into the Michelin Guides. This is therefore about a process not a person:-

1) The freshness, quality and preparation of the ingredients

2) The mastery of cooking techniques

3) The harmony and equilibrium of the flavours in a finished dish

4) The demonstration of the personality of the chef (a signature)

5) Consistency over time and across the menu.

6) Value for money

Personally, I may bring an international angle, a culinary curiosity, that may flavour my relationship with the inspectors – a value-add to reflect back the ever expanding vibrancy and diversity on show in cooking around the world.  Just to re-iterate, this would remain within the defining parameters of decision making just discussed.

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

London today is one of the most exciting, vibrant and dynamic food destinations in the world.  You could not have said this twenty or thirty years ago.  There is a move to more casual dining, all day dining and smaller plates.  The over-whelming trend in a city like London is the expanding diversity of choice: from high quality Nordic cooking through to Peruvian: From single concept dining to all day bistros; in fact the list goes on and it is important to have a guide that reflects the diversity of choice of quality restaurants.

Thirty years ago London ‘fine dining’ was about the anglo-French Michelin multi-starred institutions; chefs like Albert Roux, Nico Ladenis and Pierre Koffmann.  Today there are a group of seasoned chefs who are British and importantly spawning a British ‘identity of fine dining’; chefs like Phil Howard and Marcus Wareing for example.  The idea of ‘modern British cooking’ is now alive and well and that’s great to see.

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

Michelin is strictly an inspector-driven guide, in that professional inspectors make decisions about inclusion in the guide.  However, in France alone, the guide receives over 40,000 emails or letters a year.  These tend to be from passionate people advising Michelin about their experiences with restaurants or hotels.  The guide is very much reader inclusive in this way and the feedback provides a clear radar for what is happening in the market.

In general with the blogosphere and web based feedback – everyone is a critic, some good, some not so good.  Amongst all this noise you have to ask “What is the gold standard?” “Where is the North Star?”  Michelin is about providing a clear professional benchmark of reliable quality to readers through full time inspectors who are anonymous and pay their own bills.

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

Two ways.  First is that the common framework or methodology is applied across all geographies – the guiding parameters for inclusion previously discussed.  The second is that the inspectors travel a lot and get to prove their benchmarking across geographies.

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

The Michelin Guide is not a trend predictor nor a consultant to the industry, however as a window reflecting what is happening on the culinary landscape, trends will be reflected back in the guide.

Certainly around much of the world a difficult economic environment has prevailed and this has affected restaurants like any other industry.  Chefs have noted the need to change and adapt their product to meet the changing needs of the consumer.  The award of Bib Gourmand has become popular in this area, where you can enjoy a three course meal of quality for under £28 in Britain or 31 Euro in France. We find this a popular and expanding aspect of the Michelin recognitions.

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

Riding the digital and mobile wave is very important.  Our offerings are incorporating the latest ideas, innovations and technologies in their digital applications.  There is a strong core base to the paper product, albeit paper publishing not being a growth industry.  There remains the fact that the  digital product and paper product are not mutually exclusive, for the time being at least customers may own both versions.

How do you feel about the fact that the top end chefs of the world see Michelin stars as a career benchmarking award?

It is a great honour and most humbling when I hear from chefs how important the recognitions are to them.  This will remain of value so long as Michelin maintain the right standards and apply the guiding parameters developed over many years.  I think respect comes from credibility and we hope to maintain that mutual respect going forward.

Any plans for new city coverage?

The core theme for the time being is to consolidate our position in the geographies we have entered.  We keep our eyes open about new opportunities but for the medium term we are consolidating.

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

The guides were created by the founders of the company; Andre and Edouard Michelin to support the development of the tyre business and are now part of a large and successful multi-national corporation and are very much part of the culture of that corporation – a part of the Michelin Corporate DNA that creates enormous value around the visibility of the brand as well as communicating the values of quality, rigour and methodology.

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

In 1900 the Michelin brothers said the company was born into one century and will see in the next.  The Guide books will be around and part of the corporation for some considerable time to come!

Michelin Guide 2014: Bib Gourmand Defined and Listing

Posted on: October 5th, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Bib GourmandFor Michelin Bib Gourmand Defined and Listing 2015

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 2014 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 2014 includes 143 Bib Gourmands of which 27 are (N – New) Bib Gourmand restaurants, the full list is below:-

(Format): Town, County, EstablishmentMichelin GB&I 2014 Cover


Aldeburgh Suffolk Lighthouse

Belbroughton Worcestershire The Queens N

Bishopstone Swindon Royal Oak

Blackpool/Thornton Lancashire Twelve

Brighton and Hove West Sussex Chilli Pickle

Brighton and Hove/Hove West Sussex Ginger Pig

Bristol Bristol Flinty Red

Bristol/Long Ashton Bristol Bird in Hand N

Britwell Salome Oxfordshire Red Lion N

Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, The Joiners

Bruton, Somerset, At The Chapel

Bury Greater Manchester Waggon

Bury St Edmunds Suffolk Pea Porridge

Cheltenham Gloucestershire The Tavern N

Chester Chester West and Chester Joseph Benjamin

Chichester West Sussex Amelie and Friends N

Christchurch Dorset Kings Arms N

Cookham Windsor and Maidenhead White Oak

Darlington/Hurworth-on-Tees Durham Bay Horse

Donhead-St- Andrew Wiltshire The Forester

Drighlington West Yorkshire Prashad N

Droxford Hampshire Bakers Arms

Durham Durham Bistro 21

East Haddon Northamptonshire Red Lion

Exeter/Rockbeare Devon Jack in the Green Inn

Faversham/Oare Kent Three Mariners

Gedney Dyke Lincolnshire Chequers

Hastings & St Leonards East Sussex St. Clements

Henley-on-Thames/Stonor Oxfordshire Quince Tree

Hitchin Hertfordshire hermitage rd

Hunsdon Hertfordshire Fox and Hounds N

Ingham Norfolk Ingham Swan

Jersey/Beaumont Channel Islands Mark Jordan at the Beach

Kelvedon Essex George and Dragon

Keyston Cambridgeshire Pheasant

Kibworth Beauchamp Leicestershire Lighthouse N

Longparish Hampshire Plough Inn

Longstock Hampshire Peat Spade Inn

Marazion/Perranuthnoe Cornwall Victoria Inn

Masham North Yorkshire Vennell’s

Moreton-in-Marsh/Bourton-on-the-Hill Gloucestershire Horse & Groom

Newcastle upon Tyne Tyne and Wear Broad Chare

Newlyn Cornwall Tolcarne Inn N

North Shields Tyne and Wear David Kennedy’s River Cafe

Nottingham Nottinghamshire Ibérico World Tapas

Oxford Oxfordshire Magdalen Arms

Oxford Oxfordshire Rickety Press N

Padstow Cornwall Rick Stein’s Café

Porthleven Cornwall Kota

Preston Candover Hampshire Purefoy Arms

Ramsbottom Lancashire Hearth of the Ram N

Ramsgate Kent Age and Sons

Ripponden West Yorkshire El Gato Negro N

Romsey Hampshire Three Tuns

St Ives Cornwall Black Rock

Stamford Lincolnshire Jim’s Yard

Stanton Suffolk Leaping Hare

Stathern Leicestershire Red Lion Inn

Tetbury Gloucestershire Gumstool Inn

Tewkesbury Gloucestershire Owens

Thorpe Market Norfolk Gunton Arms

Upper South Wraxall Wiltshire Longs Arms N

Wells Somerset Old Spot

West Hoathly West Sussex Cat Inn

West Pennard Somerset Apple Tree Inn

Woolhope Herefordshire Butchers Arms

Wootton Oxfordshire Killingworth Castle N

Wrington North Somerset The Ethicurean

Wymondham Leicestershire Berkeley Arms


Benderloch Argyll and Bute Hawthorn

Edinburgh Edinburgh Dogs

Edinburgh Edinburgh Galvin Brasserie De Luxe N

Glasgow Glasgow City Stravaigin

Kintyre/Kilberry Argyll & Bute Kilberry Inn

Peebles Borders Osso

Peebles Borders Restaurant at Kailzie Gardens


Brecon Powys Felin Fach Griffin

Northern Ireland

Ballyclare Antrim Oregano

Belfast Antrim Coppi N

Belfast Antrim Home N

Holywood North Down Fontana

Republic of Ireland

Carrickmacross Monaghan Courthouse

Clonakilty Cork Deasy’s

Clonegall Carlow Sha Roe Bistro

Dingle Kerry Chart House

Dublin Dublin Pichet

Dublin Dublin Pig’s Ear

Dublin/Clontarf Dublin Downstairs

Duncannon Wexford Aldridge Lodge

Kinsale Cork Fishy Fishy Cafe

Lisdoonvarna Clare Wild Honey Inn

Malahide Fingal Brasserie at bon appétit N


Willesden Green Brent Sushi Say

Bloomsbury Camden Barrica

Bloomsbury Camden Gail’s Kitchen N

Bloomsbury Camden Honey and Co N

Bloomsbury Camden Salt Yard

Camden Town Camden Made in Camden

Camden Town Camden Market

Holborn Camden Great Queen Street

Swiss Cottage Camden Bradley’s

Canonbury Islington Trullo

Hackney Hackney Empress

Shoreditch Hackney Princess of Shoreditch

Hammersmith Hammersmith and Fulham Azou

Archway Islington 500

Clerkenwell Islington Comptoir Gascon

Clerkenwell Islington Polpo Smithfield N

Finsbury Islington Medcalf

Finsbury Islington Morito

Islington Islington Drapers Arms

Kings Cross St Pancras Kings Cross St Pancras Grain Store N

Clapham Common Lambeth Bistro Union

Stockwell Lambeth Canton Arms

Wimbledon Merton Fox and Grapes

Wanstead Redbridge Provender

East Sheen Richmond-Upon-Thames Mango and Silk

Teddington Richmond-Upon-Thames Simply Thai

Bermondsey Southwark José

Bermondsey Southwark Zucca

Southwark Southwark Anchor and Hope

Southwark Southwark Del Mercato N

Southwark Southwark Elliot’s

Bethnal Green Tower Hamlets Brawn

Bethnal Green Tower Hamlets Corner Room

Spitalfields Tower Hamlets Galvin Café a Vin

Spitalfields Tower Hamlets St John Bread and Wine

Whitechapel Tower Hamlets Cafe Spice Namaste

Battersea Wandsworth Soif

Bayswater & Maida Vale Westminster (City of) Hereford Road

Bayswater & Maida Vale Westminster (City of) Kateh

Regent’s Park and Marylebone Westminster (City of) Picture N

Soho Westminster (City of) Barrafina

Soho Westminster (City of) Bocca di Lupo

Soho Westminster (City of) Brasserie Zédel

Soho Westminster (City of) Copita

Soho Westminster (City of) Koya

Soho Westminster (City of) Polpo Soho

Strand & Covent Garden Westminster (City of) Green Man and French Horn N

Strand & Covent Garden Westminster (City of) Polpo Covent Garden

Strand & Covent Garden Westminster (City of) Opera Tavern

Strand & Covent Garden Westminster (City of) Terroirs

Victoria Westminster (City of) A. Wong N

Michelin Guide GB&I 2014: Rebecca Burr Interview

Posted on: October 2nd, 2013 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Rebecca Burr has completed her third year as editor of The Michelin Guide to Great Britain & Ireland.  The 2014 edition was published on Thursday 26th September 2013.  Ms Burr also holds responsibility for three further guides at Michelin: The Michelin London Guide, The Michelin Main Cities of Europe Guide and The Michelin Eating out in Pubs Guide.

Simon Carter of fine dining guide interviewed Rebecca at 3pm on the same day as publication at a hotel in St Pancras, London.  Here is what Rebecca had to say…

How would you describe, using a paragraph for each: ‘What makes a restaurant with a Michelin star; two stars and three stars’?Michelin GB&I 2014 Cover

The answer to this has not changed – it is the food every step of the way!  Where people may be getting confused is where restaurants of different styles and cultures are awarded stars such as Lima, Yauatcha or Hakkasan but it is still the food quality that is being reflected to the readers.  Its also about consistency of offering: Tuesday lunchtime or Saturday night, April or September, whether the head chef is in or not, is the restaurant kitchen well managed to maintain those standards and so on.

The step from one to two stars demonstrates the flair, creativity, consistency and quality of individual signature. Restaurants that demonstrate these attributes over a fairly considerable period of time will find themselves at the entry point of a world class level. As at this time, there remain only 403 two stars around the world so achieving such an award tells readers to expect a certain level of consistent quality associated with that standard.

Three stars is still all about the food.  I recently went to the two new three star restaurants in Spain and the experience was one of extraordinary skill in displaying absolute mastery of classical through to modern cooking techniques.  You really see these truly great (three star) restaurants sharing a committed philosophy of excellence.

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

A great year for cities, particularly London with two new two star restaurants (Dinner by Heston and The Greenhouse) but also Bristol and Birmingham have done well in restaurant terms.  Jersey has also proven a destination of choice for our recommended hotels through Bib Gourmand and starred restaurants.

In general the deletions of stars this year across the country have been due to closures (mainly due to chefs moving on), which coupled with the award of fifteen new one stars and two new two stars shows that standards in this country are continually and steadily on the rise.

How are restaurants fairing in the economic times?

Very well and in general have been bucking the economic trend.  Perhaps people are more careful about what they will spend and the way in which they will spend, but restaurants in general have risen to the challenge of providing a consistent value for money offering: From food-led pubs, through fashionable boutique hotel restaurants: From single concept dining to iconic country house hotels.  The former and latter are in fact the envy of my international colleagues as they are uniquely British and doing so well.

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

There are a few things that people are reluctant to give up and perhaps holidays and dining out are two of them! However, as the customers’ typical budget has changed so has the supply of more casual, relaxed and low cost restaurants.  This has not precluded quality in any way and the Bib Gourmand award has never been more popular with readers.

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

First of all, our team recognize the extraordinary amount of effort (as well as potentially cost) that may go into retaining two or three Michelin Stars.  These are a rare breed of restaurant at the world class level.  So congratulations are in order to the twenty-one two star and four three star restaurants in Britain for maintaining that great achievement.

Whilst we understand the appetite that may exist in this country for a new three star restaurant we have to be absolutely certain, in every way, that the time is right for that restaurant: From certainty in the kitchen to maturity in the business, that the restaurant would represent Great Britain & Ireland favourably on the international stage.

So while we would be thrilled for say a two to three Michelin star promotion to happen, it has to be absolutely right.  I’m not saying that the chef needs to be in the kitchen twenty four hours a day seven days a week but some of the iconic chefs of the past were certainly not diluted in their focus too early in their careers.  It is entirely a matter for the chef and the dedication to the restaurant in question.

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

An interesting trend at the top end is perhaps towards set menus, occasionally purely tasting menus, while dispensing with the a la Carte. There is a mixed reaction to this from our readers.  While the kitchen or chef/patron may prefer this route for economic and practical reasons it places more emphasis on the price point and the expected consistency of quality.  One also wonders what impact diminished choice has on repeat custom.

The local and seasonal trend will continue.  We’ve also seen dining in more relaxed ‘social spaces’ and as with any trend, the Michelin philosophy will stay the same, if the food is good enough the establishment will qualify for an award.

What’s new with Michelin Bib Gourmand?

Different to a star, not half a star in fact nothing associated with a star, although coming with the Michelin inspector stamp of quality.  There are 143 this year, 27 new ones.  We look at everything, the price of water, coffee, side dishes and so on to ensure that the restaurant is in keeping with the spirit of an award that is still set at a meal for £28 for three courses.

Certain geographies (for example Benelux) have a Bib Gourmand specific publication, which reflects how popular they are; a market within the market of Michelin recognitions.

The longer descriptions of the Michelin London Guide seem well received?

Aimed at the home market but made by the same team, The London Guide gives an opportunity to be a little more opinionated.  Michelin are not critics but observers so the tone of the entries is defined accordingly.  Michelin Guide stars are given a whole page of text including colour photograph, specialities across each course and QR Code to locate the entry on viamichelin maps.

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

14th March 2014.   Prague, Budapest and Warsaw are examples of cities that are all moving forward dining wise plus we have the excitement of what is happening in the Nordics.  It is still early days for the next guide but we’re delighted with what we’re finding and we look forward to a strong publication.

What news of the 2014 Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide?

We get positive feedback regarding the format; the descriptions are a whole page similar to the London Guide.  Same philosophy with the same team inspecting so the observations come with the same stamp of quality.  The pub is also uniquely part of the British culture and appropriate to be reflected in a Michelin Guide.  A number of high quality food-led pubs have also retained their Michelin Star for 2014 so congratulations to those addresses.  The Bib Gourmand tends to fit well with pubs and of course there are the inspector favourites, which are always a hit with our readers.

Are there any strategy changes in the pipeline?

I understand that Michelin are trialling a subscription model for digital content in certain geographies and it will be interesting to see how that side of things develop.