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Michelin Guide, Great Britain & Ireland 2013

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#31 rotuts

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:15 AM

I must say this: I haven't been to GB for some time. I'm a Big Time Fan of Great British Menu.

but having been around the block more than once

what P.M. rings true to me.

Bummer I wont be able to go to a few of the GBM's restaurants!

Kudos Britannia!

#32 Man

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:58 AM

If it's true that Zafferano has lost its *, well it would be wrong to say I'm happy, but I think the loss would reflect a reality. I never understood that *, and especially after the advent of Apsleys the gap in standard was embarrassing.

#33 Chef Hermes Blog

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:55 PM

If it's true that Zafferano has lost its *, well it would be wrong to say I'm happy, but I think the loss would reflect a reality. I never understood that *, and especially after the advent of Apsleys the gap in standard was embarrassing.

Tis true, total of 6 deletions plus the 3 deleted from 1* & promoted to 2* (which is the way Michelin do it)

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#34 PhilD

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 03:39 PM

Glad to see The Red Lion Free-house get one. Enjoyed it enormously the couple of times I went. Also great to see Paul Ainsworth get his.

#35 Andrew

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:01 AM

It was interesting to see that it was not a leak but genuine mistake with their website that forced them to release the guide a week early.

I think Sketch is getting 2 stars that is interesting. It is the sort of place that Michelin loves in France. I've eaten there twice although not for 3 years and each time the good was very well executed although each time I had at least one dish I really disliked. The place is amazing and the service excellent despite their attempt to up-sell wine, I ordered a £75 bottle and was 'suggested' that instead I choose something that had a little more depth (it costs £225 and I politely said no!). It is one of those place you have to go to once.

The margin between 2 and 3 stars is closing. I assume it is not just quality of food but consistency. Gidleigh Park must be knocking on the door for an extra star, I can only assume that there are rare lapses.

Andrew

Edited by Andrew, 28 September 2012 - 01:10 AM.


#36 spanielking

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:25 AM

So is Bray the new Ludlow??

#37 Scott

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:33 AM


As Jay Rayner rightly says here, while he is pleased for some individual chefs, "Michelin definitions of what is good and worthy of acknowledgement just seems increasingly antiquated... Michelin no longer represents in any way a real portrait of what's going on in Britain."


Putting the rightly aside, the subtext here, as with most of Rayner's food writing, is that the only "real portrait of what's going on in Britain" is whatever he says it is.


yeah, that is the unmistakeable precept.


The problem with Michelin UK is that pays too much attention to what is going in the press, is hopelessly unsure about its own evaluative criteria, and does far too little inspecting these days. Essentially it is trading on a former reputation. Nevertheless, this is not to say that anyone else is doing the job any better either.


I don't follow the too little inspecting comment? for example, at Hedone, Mikael know's he has been visted at least 6 times by inspectors, and twice by the editor. and this is just the times he knows about, it is possible it has been more.
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#38 Putty Man

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:07 AM

I don't follow the too little inspecting comment? for example, at Hedone, Mikael know's he has been visted at least 6 times by inspectors, and twice by the editor. and this is just the times he knows about, it is possible it has been more.


In the UK Michelin inspections are precipitated by prior media interest. They are not systematically trawling the length and breadth of the British Isles for new talent, they leave that to the press, bloggers, forums etc. Ironically, they now probably pay as much attention to Andy Hayler as Hayler previously did to them. If a place fits into their marketing scheme they'll inspect it and usually award it. Since elevating the Fat Duck, which got them as much publicity as it did the restaurant, they generally favour slightly off-centre novelty over solid technique.

#39 Scott

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:54 AM

If a place fits into their marketing scheme they'll inspect it and usually award it. Since elevating the Fat Duck, which got them as much publicity as it did the restaurant, they generally favour slightly off-centre novelty over solid technique.


what examples would you cite?
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#40 Putty Man

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:52 PM

what examples would you cite?


Well, first of all, I want to make vey clear that I'm referring to Michelin's operations the UK, which run reactively rather than proactively. Essentially, Michelin allow the press/net to shortlist for them; thus saving a fortune in research and they then apply an extremely idiosyncratic criteria. This encompasses the sure things: Dinner, Ducasse, Sketch which get their stars as soon as is possible. And 'surprises'. These surprises consist in a shed load of pubs being given 1* and the odd Sportsman and Hedone, which are usually run by fully paid up members of the middle-classes who have come late to the hospitality industry, and usually sound very eccentric and thus British. Unfortunately, guides and critics, Michelin included, are the principal symptom of the malaise that they purport to cure.

#41 PhilD

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 03:42 PM

Putty Man - quite an odd argument. I can't see why their alleged method of finding new restaurants is wrong. Isn't it sensible to use media sources as a research tool. I know my company (like most others and nothing to do with food) actively monitors every column inch of media comment about our industry, including market activity, competitors success and failures, and key staff movement. We know some data is good, some is average and some is wrong but it is the good source data fir our research teams - who then check it. Why shouldn't Michelin do much the same? Obviously it only gives you the "news" but armed with that they can visit and assess - to me this approach is common sense.

So look at the two examples I know. First, The Red Lion; to my knowledge reviewed by JR back in 2009 and got a good Dos Hermanos review around the same time - i have seen little since. It is in the middle of nowhere in deepest Wiltshire run by a couple of young career chefs who have great pedigrees - doesn't quite fit the stereotype. Next Paul Ainsworth's, a chef with a great track record, one or two media reviews and a few blogs reviews from those search good food in Padstow, isn't he a classic example of a chef who has worked hard to receive the accolade. He isn't a sure thing, nor a surprise but a one who worked hard to gain the eventual recognition.

And just an FYI the Sportsman is a pub.

#42 Harters

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:37 AM

And just an FYI the Sportsman is a pub.


And, to my mind, much more of a "real pub" than, say, the Royal Oak Paley Street or the Harwood Arms which are restaurants simply occupying pub premises.
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#43 Putty Man

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:45 AM

Putty Man - quite an odd argument.


Indeed, not an argument at all. But I will give you an argument: In France, once (and arguably still) the greatest culinary nation, Michelin exhaustively reviewed throughout the country. One may have had issues with the relative merits of some starred establishments, but overall it was a highly informative guide that was entirely unskewed by the insidious influence of restaurant PRs. This reputation for integrity and depth was what made Michelin respectable in other countries such as the UK. Michelin's initial work in the UK reproduced the M.O. of Michelin France, but came under increasing criticism for being a guide that awarded in proportion to French gastronomic criteria. At this point, unable to find a yardstick by which to evaluate the diversity of eating in the UK, Michelin ceased to encourage and be a proactive participant in setting and maintaining standards in the UK. Rather they respond to whoever makes waves, regardless of merit. In this sense, Michelin has become manipulable by the PRs, and it is now the PRs and not Michelin who wield the most culinary influence in the UK. Since PR is the privilege of those who can afford to pay for it, talent without access to sufficient capital falls by the wayside and merit is subordinated to gimmickry and cash. This is not to say that Michelin always gets it wrong, the two approaches outlined above are not mutually exclusive, but that Michelin UK goes with same flow as all the other guides, bloggers and critics in a gimcrack market that is created in the minds of PRs rather than on the plate.

Hence, Michelin is a symptom of the malaise that it purports to cure.

And just an FYI the Sportsman is a pub.

Yes, but it's a far better example of the latter than the former.

Edited by Putty Man, 29 September 2012 - 02:51 AM.


#44 Man

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:42 AM

One positive aspect of a PR dominated system is that it sucks the masses towards a handful of uber-hyped places, leaving some of us to eat in peace and without queuing in other restaurants run by equally, and sometimes more, valid professionals. :smile:

#45 Putty Man

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:52 AM

One positive aspect of a PR dominated system is that it sucks the masses towards a handful of uber-hyped places, leaving some of us to eat in peace and without queuing in other restaurants run by equally, and sometimes more, valid professionals. :smile:


That may be a positive aspect for some diners, but I doubt it is for restaurateurs. I'd like to think that we in the UK could sustain a system in which gastronomic skill was proportionally recognised and rewarded. The pressure is on chefs to conceive their proffer in terms of media exploitability rather than as a dining experience; think Meat Fruit, Bubbledogs etc. This tends to push gastronomy into a novelty-driven corner that has little to differentiate itself from Marmite chocolate type silliness.

Edited by Putty Man, 29 September 2012 - 04:07 AM.


#46 PSmith

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 04:14 AM

One positive aspect of a PR dominated system is that it sucks the masses towards a handful of uber-hyped places, leaving some of us to eat in peace and without queuing in other restaurants run by equally, and sometimes more, valid professionals. :smile:


So excellently put. Can I put my hand up to having never (to the best of my knowledge) eaten in an establishment with Michelin Stars. The closest is my favourite local establishment which is "recommended".

It is all a bit of snobbery at the end of the day. IMHO of course.

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#47 Scott

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 01:24 PM


what examples would you cite?


Well, first of all, I want to make vey clear that I'm referring to Michelin's operations the UK, which run reactively rather than proactively. Essentially, Michelin allow the press/net to shortlist for them; thus saving a fortune in research and they then apply an extremely idiosyncratic criteria. This encompasses the sure things: Dinner, Ducasse, Sketch which get their stars as soon as is possible. And 'surprises'. These surprises consist in a shed load of pubs being given 1* and the odd Sportsman and Hedone, which are usually run by fully paid up members of the middle-classes who have come late to the hospitality industry, and usually sound very eccentric and thus British. Unfortunately, guides and critics, Michelin included, are the principal symptom of the malaise that they purport to cure.


Ok, sure. But which of these is novelty over solid technique.

I can't quite see (yet) the heart of your argument, it seems to be a few vague allusions around the edges, but what is the guts of it all.

I think michelin is about assessment, judgement & categorisation - not sourcing. I don't personally see the value in using one sourcing methodology vs another. I don't care how you came across or came to know about a restaurant, i care about the quality of the assessment.

Which is where i find myself a bit lost on the novelty act lacking in technique thing, am not sure who you would cite?

I can and do disagree with michelin's assessment, can't say i've ever cared about how somewhere came to their attention.

All social media means is that PR's job gets harder to add value in the traditional ways. They are who used to tell michelin about what's hot.
A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

#48 Man

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 12:23 PM


One positive aspect of a PR dominated system is that it sucks the masses towards a handful of uber-hyped places, leaving some of us to eat in peace and without queuing in other restaurants run by equally, and sometimes more, valid professionals. :smile:


So excellently put. Can I put my hand up to having never (to the best of my knowledge) eaten in an establishment with Michelin Stars. The closest is my favourite local establishment which is "recommended".

It is all a bit of snobbery at the end of the day. IMHO of course.


Well personally I'd suggest not being 100% strict with the rule of avoiding Michelin starred restaurants as you may miss a lot of great cooking together with some less exciting and formulaic dishes. While I've had a lot of gastronomic joy in lesser known joints, I've also had joy in more elevated places (most recently yesterday one of the best meals of my life at a 3* one). For me it's the same problem as with investments, avoiding being caught in the bubbles... :smile:

#49 Robert45

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 12:38 PM

Hello to everybody.
This is my first ever posting on here which has been prompted by the interesting debate unfolding with this whole Michelin UK (farce??) situation.
My take on Michelin is that it seems to be the very best pr a restaurant can receive BUT does in no way represent the very best of what is out there.
Having lived and worked for over twenty years in Germany, France and Italy, which has involved copious amounts of eating out along the way, there does seem to be a distinct level of divide in how the Michelin guide operates and ultimately award their stars.
Here in the UK, almost everything in question has this awful 'x-factor' syndrome about it, which I think includes the UK Michelin Guide. I suggest they act in an almost gimmicky way, in light of the mistake of realeasing the stars a week early. A pure pr heist, which begs the question, if a guide of any description has to resort to such tactics in gaining attention, are they really that important to all intents and purposes? Living back in the UK for the last three years, I have found you cannot watch a tv programme or read a food related article, without the mention of Michelin this and that. Seemingly if an establishment or chef does not have the Michelin connection then it is deemed not quite so worthy of public interest. A total nonsense that many have bought into. Does the UK guide pay the media to push its so called merits one wonders?
The greatest change I have encountered since being back home is the growing fashion of the guide to be starring public houses. Where has all that come from and what does it all represent? I remember when a pub was just that and not as it is now, restaurants merely serving beer. In the main, I have found these pubs or restaurants or whatever they are classed as, generally underwhelming, overpriced and way over hyped.

#50 PSmith

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:10 PM

The greatest change I have encountered since being back home is the growing fashion of the guide to be starring public houses. Where has all that come from and what does it all represent? I remember when a pub was just that and not as it is now, restaurants merely serving beer. In the main, I have found these pubs or restaurants or whatever they are classed as, generally underwhelming, overpriced and way over hyped.


I live in a small town in the home counties which has a few pubs and a hotel and a couple of nice restaurants. Over the last few years, the pubs have all upped their game where food is concerned to the point where getting a decent "ham, egg and chips" was no longer possible. Recently however, the hotel has started to do two main courses for £10 - just good basic pub grub - and guess what - they are banged out every evening.

A lot of pubs in the UK are shutting down and blaming the smoking ban. In my opinion, it is due to bad positioning. Too many have tried to become restaurants with beer and left themselves high and dry.

I don't have a 100% rule of not eating in Michelin starred establishments - I just don't set any store by any high profile guide publications, preferring word of mouth or recommendations from friends.

I once worked for a company that won a major industry award - the award was "bought" with a large purchase of advertising from the award giver's publication for the next year. So cynical - yeah, you bet I am.

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#51 thampik

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 01:32 PM

robert45, I would recommend you try the The Hand and Flowers in Marlow - neither underwhelming nor overpriced. Might change your mind about starred pubs.

#52 Robert45

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 02:48 PM

robert45, I would recommend you try the The Hand and Flowers in Marlow - neither underwhelming nor overpriced. Might change your mind about starred pubs.

I have indeed visited the above, earlier in the year whilst on business. To be perfectly honest I found it not only very underwhelming but disappointing, in as much as it having two stars attached to it. Why?? I found the whole experience very average to be honest. I could not understand why such an establishment would be awarded like it has. Almost random. The two star rating was to me completely unjustified and more importantly totally unnecessary. I did actually contact the guide to convey my thoughts because I did think in this case it was just ridiculous on the guides part. Im sure it would be a great pub if it didn't have all the guff of two stars. By the way, one of our party had to send back his beef dish that night, as it was overcooked. I had not ever encountered this in a two star establishment prior.

#53 thampik

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 11:37 PM

That perhaps explains your view. I can only speak from my experience - where the food was excellent.

In a sense, the above is indicative of the value the guide has - in that their inspectors (presumably) visit an establishment a number of times so as to make a balanced judgement.



#54 Harters

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 02:03 AM

Michelin's move to award stars to pubs seems further evidence that it's relevence to the eating public is declining. Whilst I accept that the ingredient-led Sportsman is, perhaps, an exception, I really can't get my head round the concept that places like the Harwood Arms or the Royal Oak Paley Street are offering star quality food, when I compare with other one star restaurants.

To my mind, there's something out of kilter. If those places are worthy of a star, then the UK should have hundreds of one star places.

I have not eaten at the Hand & Flowers so cannot judge if its cooking is on a par with other two star holders such as, say, Sat Bains, L'Enclume, Hibiscus or Le Manoir.
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#55 Gary Marshall

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 04:21 AM

For approximatley the one millionth time :wink: , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent.

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'.

As to Michelin in the TV, I think that is just blatant free adverts from the BBC primarily which amuses me greatly, can't blame them if some researcher or producer has decided that's the benchmark, but there you go......it's obviously got into the mainstream, a customer at Champignon Sauvage once asked them 'If they'd like one of those Michelin Stars' to which they had to politely reply, 'well actually, we've got two' .
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#56 Harters

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:38 AM

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.


I look forward to the village cafe getting its star very soon, then.

In it's "category" (like the Michelin website, I'm not defining what a category is), it "offers cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. A good place to stop on your journey".

I recommend the full fry-up, even though for the £3.80, they no longer include a drink.

And the chippy, down the road, should easily get two stars. Well worth a detour, doncha know.

Edited by Harters, 03 October 2012 - 05:39 AM.

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#57 Robert45

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:40 AM

I must say I agree whole 'Hartley' with above comment.
Each to their own but I have found this whole situation of staring pubs a nonsense. Its all well and good the guide stating its is one star for this and that but I would imagine the mass majority of people who dine out can't ever see a difference. I've yet to hear a chef from a pub suggest they are starred but only in a pub sector. So surely a pub with a michelin star is in a win, win postion. From what I have encountered gaining a star for a pub seems a whole lot easier than it is for a like for like restaurant.
When I was overseas a star was a star but here its all over the place. I would image that a starred pub is talked up far more than what it can deliver? Obviously the guide is trying to be made more accessible to the masses, hence the growing fashion for pubs and the decline in restaurant support.

#58 IanT

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 07:49 AM

For approximatley the one millionth time :wink: , if anyone actually read the michelin guide criteria, (which is on the web site and in the releases) it all becomes if not blindingly clear, certainly the logic is apparent.

Restaurants are rated in their category, as are pubs, they are not saying Hand & Flowers is as good as Le Manoir for example, but that it is a very good pub. think of it along those lines and it makes sense.

Whilst a star is a fantastic boost for pubs (and they remain mainly my favoured dining environment, and indeed, i owned one) it does also bring the cross of 'you're not worthy of a star, no amuse, table cloths sommellier etc'. For a proper restaurant it allows you to charge the proper rate, without a star you get 'how can you charge so much? You don't have a star'.


That's not quite right Gary. The criteria for a 1* restaurant is "Very Good Cooking in its Category" but the "in its Category" qualifier is dropped from the 2* and 3* criteria ("Excellent cooking, worth a detour" and "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" respectively).

My understanding has always been that 1* hopefuls are judged against other establishments of their category (whether that is pub, dim sum or posh French) but that the 2* and 3* categories are judged against some objective level of quality regardless of category. This limits the ability of pubs to climb beyond 1*.

Hand and Flowers does seem a bit of an anomaly on that rationale (much and all as I liked it, The Sportsman would seem more deserving) but no more egregious than lots of other anomalies we could point to (the UK&I 3* list is in particulalry dire need of pruning - Ducasse/Ramsay/Waterside Inn...)

#59 Harters

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:09 AM

I've yet to hear a chef from a pub suggest they are starred but only in a pub sector.


And it raises the interesting question as to at what point does a pub stop being a pub and becomes a restaurant?

Using my examples upthread of the Harwood and the Royal Oak, I'd suggest the line has been well crossed. These places may well be in buildings that were once a pub. They may even have retained the bar. But no-one is popping in for swift half of mild and game of darts. These are restaurants - so in what category do they achieve a star? Are they measured against other restaurants which are in ex-pubs? Does Michelin have a category for restaurants, say, which are in buildings previously a bank (even if they retain the tellers counter)?
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#60 Pam Brunning

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:50 AM

A friend of mine who frequents Michelin star restaurants worldwide was staying in Marlow to visit 3 restaurants, Orwells at Shiplake, The Hand & Flowers and The Vanilla Pod. He asked me which he would enjoy most, I told him the Vanilla Pod without a doubt. He was surprised but agreed entirely after his visit. How on earth did The H&F get two stars was his comment.
One star should be for pubs however good the food, they are basic. Michelin always used to say they took ambiance into account so no way can a pub, without all the trimmings of napery etc., be more that one star.
I am afraid when it comes to guides these days it is a case of who the chef worked with. If he trained under Ramsey or Blanc he has a foot in the door and as soon as he opens his own restaurant a star or a GFG high rating comes along a bit quick, regardless of the quality of the food he is serving up. You get a chef without a pedigree and he can produce some great dishes but rarely get noticed. It is all a case of, not what the chef knows but who he knows.
There is one advantage, it is possible to seek out some very good cooking at a price that has not been over inflated by accolades.


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