Michelin picks the best UK restaurants

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 3, 2018.

Clare Smyth

The Charlotte Potato dish served at Core restaurant. Photo by Lotus International

Tantalising lobster at the Waterside Inn.

Enjoy braised shoulder of spring lamb at Le Gavroche. Source: Le Gavroche Cookbook.

Tuck into aged pigeon, fig, red leaves and vegetables at The Ledbury.

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Gordon Ramsay’s protege Clare Smyth is one of three to win accolades, but no one new achieved three Michelin stars

 

Gordon Ramsay was on hand to congratulate his former leading chef Clare Smyth (pic) as her restaurant is one of three in the UK to join the list with two stars in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2019.

Core by Clare Smyth, which opened to widespread acclaim in 2017, was too late for inclusion in the 2018 guide and skipped the most common route of initially winning a single star. There are two-star additions also for Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs in London; and for Moor Hall, a restaurant with rooms in northern Lancashire’s countryside.

The stars were announced in London recently at a ceremony attended by 150 chefs from the UK and overseas; the event is the UK culinary calendar’s highlight. There were also 21 new one-star establishments. No new restaurant won the top accolade of three stars, though there was widespread speculation in advance that Smyth might achieve that status.

Smyth, who catered the royal wedding this year, was the only female chef in the UK with three Michelin stars when she ran Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. She was with Ramsay for more than 13 years.

At Core in Notting Hill, she has dispensed with tablecloths, stiff service and created unfussy dishes, including her signature Potato and Roe, a starter based around a single potato with beurre blanc, herring and trout roe. Other dishes include Isle of Mull scallop tartare with sea vegetable consommé; and pear and verbena, with poire Williams sorbet.

The two stars for Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs is an unexpected and popular award. It is the venture of husband-and-wife team James Knappett and Sandia Chang. Chef Knappett creates gourmet dishes in a small dining room hidden behind a casual restaurant where Chang serves hot dogs and champagne, along with sides such as tater tots.

The third winner of two stars is chef Mark Birchall, a protege of chef Simon Rogan, who was awarded a single star after opening Moor Hall last year. He is a creative chef known for dishes such as grilled langoustine with smoked marrow and green tomato.

Chef Marcus Wareing, another Ramsay protege, lost his second star for Marcus restaurant at the Berkeley hotel.

The new one-star winners in London include Brat, Leroy, Hide, Sabor, Roganic and Ikoyi. Outlaw’s at the Capital, Ametsa, Jamavar and Lima Fitzrovia are among those to lose their stars.

While there were cheers for the winners in the ceremony at the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, there was disappointment that no restaurant won a third star. Core was hotly tipped, and speculation surrounds establishments such as L’Enclume and Sat Bains each year.

Three stars are given for “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”, Michelin said. “Our highest award is given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession.” Two stars represent “excellent cooking, worth a detour”. One star is for “high-quality cooking, worth a stop”.

Michelin also has the Bib Gourmand, a separate category of awards for good-value, inexpensive restaurants. There are 27 new Bib Gourmands in the 2019 guide, bringing the total to 143. London has 42, four of which are new: Petit Pois, a neighbourhood French bistro in Hoxton; Kudu South African cafe in Peckham; Farang for Thai street food in Highbury; and Sorella, an Italian in Clapham.

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