The MICHELIN Guide has spoken; Britain & Ireland welcomed three new two-star restaurants and 21 new one-star establishments to the 2019 guide, bringing the destination’s total to an incredible 155 one-Michelin star restaurants, 20 two-star, five one-star and 143 Bib Gourmands. We take a look at ten of the first-time winners in their categories, demonstrating how Britain continues to be a must-visit gastronomic destination thanks to its ever-evolving culinary scene.
Core by Clare Smyth, London
As Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Clare Smyth was the first and only female chef to run a three-star Michelin restaurant in Britain; and now, with her debut restaurant Core gaining a coveted two stars it may not be long before she’s doing the same with her own restaurant. It might be located in the well-heeled London neighbourhood of Notting Hill but Core veers away from being showy or stuffy and is instead informal and welcoming. The key focus is on gourmet meals created from sustainable ingredients from UK producers and farmers, and include dishes ranging from Sharpham Park spelt, morels, asparagus and wild garlic to duck and nectarine with thyme, honey and Timut pepper.
Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs, London
Tucked away at the back of Bubbledogs – a restaurant where hot dogs are paired with Champagne – in London’s elegant Fitzrovia is a discrete entrance that will lead you into Kitchen Table, which has been awarded two Michelin stars. And with just 20 seats there’s plenty of interaction between customers and chefs, led by Head Chef James Knappett, who will talk through and serve a daily changing menu created from sourced and foraged British ingredients. Its 12-course tasting menu is influenced by Knappett’s previous roles at noma and Per Se but remains true to British traditions and flavours. Sandia Chang, James’ wife, is general manager and sommelier, selecting a wine list with more than 100 choices, including wines made by small producers.
Mark Birchall’s Moor Hall, Lancashire, north-west England
When Lancashire born-and-bred Mark Birchall became Chef Patron at Moor Hall, a luxury restaurant with rooms in the beautiful Lancashire countryside (only 30 minutes from Liverpool), he brought with him his vast experience gained as Executive Chef of the two-Michelin star L’Enclume in Cumbria, and from his role at three-Michelin star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. Home-grown ingredients and produce inspired by the countryside surroundings are an important focus for Mark, who creates menus of modern British cuisine. Sample menus feature creative dishes such as turnip and crab with anise hyssop and sunflower seeds, and Westmorland chicken, hen of the woods, with candisa cabbage in ham fat.
Proving the Shoreditch scene is still attracting the cool chefs, Brat was opened earlier this year by ex-Kitty Fisher’s chef Tomos Parry, who has brought a bold blend of Welsh and Basque cuisine to east London. So how does that translate onto a menu? Gorgeous dishes such as Herdwick lamb, pork and laverbread salami, wild rabbit with blood sausage and beans, and whole turbots.
What first opened as a two-year pop-up in Marylebone is now a firm fixture in London’s culinary scene. Owned by top British chef Simon Rogan, it brings elements of L’Enclume – Rogan’s two Michelin-star restaurant in the Lake District – to the capital and is run alongside its development kitchen and eight-seat chef’s table Aulis London. Expect to find the best produce from the UK used in its dishes – including from Rogan’s ‘Our Farm’ in the Lake District – that feature on its long and short tasting menus. The dishes may list just a few ingredients (such as ‘almond, scallop, apple’ or ‘tomato, seatrout, farm offerings’) but you know they will be of the highest quality and be part of something spectacular. (Simon Rogan’s Rogan & Co in Cumbria was also awarded a Michelin star in this year’s guide.)
Chris Simpson’s Gidleigh Park, Devon, south-west England
When Chris Simpson joined luxury country house hotel Gidleigh Park at the start of the year, he came with an outstanding CV, having worked as as Head Chef at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall for seven years, which has held two Michelin stars since 2011. Taking a modern approach to classical cooking, Chris is a keen advocate of using local ingredients to create his inspirational dishes, which are refined, yet simple. As well as à la carte, there are two seven-course tasting menus (one of which is vegetarian), that feature beautiful dishes such as Cornish turbot with leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and caviar hollandaise.
Olive Tree, Bath, south-west England
Located below the gorgeous boutique Queensberry Hotel in the historic city of Bath, The Olive Tree is headed up by Chris Cleghorn who, during his career, has worked under the guidance of three Michelin-star chefs, including Heston Blumenthal. Now, at The Olive Tree (which also has three AA rosettes for culinary excellence), he delivers a regularly changing menu created from local produce, menus that feature either five or seven dishes, known as The Five or The Seven, as well as the Vegetarian Seven, the Vegan Seven and the Dairy Free Seven.
Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon, west England
Run by Paul Foster and his wife Rhiain, Salt was created after they launched a crowdfunding campaign for Paul to fulfil his dream of having his own restaurant. They’re now the proud owners of fine-dining establishment Salt, which focuses on using top-quality, seasonal produce. Come Friday or Saturday evening to experience either its creative five- or eight-course tasting menu, while the à la carte during the week is equally innovative. Choose from starters such as St Austell mussels with confit tomato, tomato juice, basil, samphire, mains such as roast partridge with salt-baked celeriac, black shallot pureé and grelots and desserts such as quince and rose geranium custard tart with a celery sorbet.
Fordwich Arms, Canterbury, Kent, south-east England
One of the few pubs to have gained a Michelin star this year, the Fordwich Arms is located in Fordwich, Britain’s smallest town. Chef patron Daniel Smith – who’s also been awarded The Observer’s Young Chef of the Year – showcases the best of Kent’s seasonal ingredients throughout all his menus. Starters include native lobster, butternut squash with pumpkin seed and orange and mains of venison sourced from a local farm with celeriac, damson and smoked bone marrow. There are also tasting menus and short tasting menus for vegetarian customers. The food is complemented by the restaurant’s lovely surroundings, with views over the River Stour.
Bulrush, Bristol, south-west England
Chef George Livesey opened this independent restaurant after a career in several high-end establishments, such as St John Restaurant, Roux Fine Dining under Dan Cox, Club Gascon and White Rabbit in Dalston, London. Mid-week customers can choose from à la carte and an eight-course tasting menu while Friday and Saturday evenings are about the show-stopping nine-course tasting menu. This is where you’ll find dishes such as starters of Highland grouse with cherries and sunflower seed and creative desserts such as butternut squash ice cream with hops, blackberries and cornflake crisp.
Find the full list of Michelin-star restaurants in Britain and Ireland here.
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