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Predictions for January 2009


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Wow, I never clicked he lost his star at the Abbey, not surprised if food is like Junipers.

Are you any good at painting Thom, it is just I have a room that needs doing :wink:

To be fair he, or The Abbey, inherited the star from the last chef so he failed to win it rather outright rather than failing to retain it.

Not sure if that is softens the blow much...

And painting? Yes, sure. How about I do you a bloody great mural of that massive gloomy picture that used to loom over you in Juniper?!

You can sit there in your lounge eating your Fray Bentos pie and pretend you're back there with Paul in the kitchen.

Find a happy place, find a happy place...

Cheers

Thom

It's all true... I admit to being the MD of Holden Media, organisers of the Northern Restaurant and Bar exhibition, the Northern Hospitality Awards and other Northern based events too numerous to mention.

I don't post here as frequently as I once did, but to hear me regularly rambling on about bollocks - much of it food and restaurant-related - in a bite-size fashion then add me on twitter as "thomhetheringto".

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Thanks for the explanation. Seems a bit daft?

Glad to see Royal Wells Tavern on the bib list though, making plans for a visit. As well as to Allium actually, which should surely be acknowledged.

Until recently I had assumed the "bibs" were sub-stars however I now realise the bibs are strictly for restaurants which deliver 3 courses for under £28 so there is no continuity between the two. If you don't make it to starred status that's it.

Interestingly the £28 cut off hasn't changed from least '07 (my last book) so it isn't any surprise to see some restaurants dropping out of bib status as their prices rise.

At first I thought this was odd, but on reflection I can see the logic. A restaurant is either in or it isn't (or very close with a rising star). If you are charging decent money for food, then the cooking needs to be of a certain standard, of course that assumes the UK Michelin star assessments are accurate....

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Is it my imagination or has this thread created less interest than in previous years? Have we all learned to put up with Michelins idiosyncracies or don't we care any more?

I suspect you might be right, that said it was a relatively dull selection. No alarms or suprises and some obvious gongs for the darlings of France. More interesting since those seemed to fly in the face of much of what the critical press has said over the past year about these places.

But then again maybe there is a waning interest amongst some readers here as regards the merits of the michelin star system, you can find many critical comments on that. In part my guess would be that also in the current climate there is likely to be a retreat away from the conspicious 2* and 3* consumption towards good quality and good value establishments like those listed in the bibs.

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Matthew, I also suspect your right. As somebody whom as always held Michelin in high regard, I too am really wondering what are the merits of the whole thing. What does it really mean now? Michelin harp on about consistency but Im starting to believe they are the furthest away. As I remarked earlier in the thread, Im truely gobsmacked at some of the star recipients this year. Been the cynical git I am, it looks more and more that they work to a political agenda as much as anything. I wonder if the likes of Fergus Henderson really wanted to be given a star? Will it be more trouble than its worth for him? What is it 15 years St John has been about ? Why give a star now, what does it actually say or represent. Then theres the the chinese restaurant in Mayfair. How can it be right that they make some places wait years for a star but at the same time readily award stars to places that still have wet paint on the walls. Im really struggling to see what Michelin now stand for because if its just down to food on a plate, then fifty odd stars should of been doled out.

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Is it my imagination or has this thread created less interest than in previous years? Have we all learned to put up with Michelins idiosyncracies or don't we care any more?

Maybe we're all still struck speechless by the rising 3* for that bloody Ducasse place....

I'll go with that, what an utter load of crocs cock, if that's not because of Ducasse's sway elsewhere then something something and something else

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Matthew, I also suspect your right. As somebody whom as always held Michelin in high regard, I too am really wondering what are the merits of the whole thing. What does it really mean now? Michelin harp on about consistency but Im starting to believe they are the furthest away. As I remarked earlier in the thread, Im truely gobsmacked at some of the star recipients this year. Been the cynical git I am, it looks more and more that they work to a political agenda as much as anything. I wonder if the likes of Fergus Henderson really wanted to be given a star? Will it be more trouble than its worth for him? What is it 15 years St John has been about ? Why give a star now, what does it actually say or represent. Then theres the the chinese restaurant in Mayfair. How can it be right that they make some places wait years for a star but at the same time readily award stars to places that still have wet paint on the walls. Im really struggling to see what Michelin now stand for because if its just down to food on a plate, then fifty odd stars should of been doled out.

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And I was never impressed by Hartnett in her previous incarnation, so I guess I'd consider Murano a ripoff, but will try it.

I was ok with Murano getting a star, but I was disappointed that L'Anima, which I found more interesting and exciting in almost every way, did not get a star as well.

Having very easily resisted Ducasse up until now, I am taking advantage over the 20% off your complete bill offer at Toptable to give it a try in a couple of weeks... after all, if it's going to be London's next 3-star...

Edited by dallardice (log)
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Is it my imagination or has this thread created less interest than in previous years? Have we all learned to put up with Michelins idiosyncracies or don't we care any more?

I was very impressed by the warmth of the congratulations that Marc received for his first star, and the insight Stephen Harris gave us on WOM. After those it seemed a bit churlish to whinge about those that had made it.

However, it does seem very patchy. If St John deserves a star, why does Hereford Road only get a bib. Clearly both have been reviewed, but for the life of me I can't see why St John is judged better, if anything Hereford Road now has the edge. Both deserve a star. These sort of perverse decisions make me question the voracity of the guide.

I wonder if the recruiting policy accounts for this, they seem to have quite a narrow selection criteria, which probably results in great consistency, or possibly "group think".

Averaging around 40 years old, inspectors.......most have attended hotel school, and then worked for five to ten years in the hospitality industry before applying for a job with the MICHELIN guide

Maybe choosing some inspectors from the ranks experienced consumers rather than just hospitality industry insiders would help?

Edited by PhilD (log)
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Maybe choosing some inspectors from the ranks experienced consumers rather than just hospitality industry insiders would help?

What would be the fun in that? Then all of us would have nothing to talk about!

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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How about seperating the hotel inspectors from the food inspectors? Jack of all trades, master of none?

God knows how logistically, but would egullet be interested in branching out into restaurant guides in that manner? Get the food bloggers and foodies on here writing about places, some sort of meeting and editing process. Could at least start out as a more formal page on egullet.

Generally, egullet opinion on michelin seems to be negative.

Just a thought...

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Not a bad idea that! Just got to get a few opinionated people together, where we going to find them?!!!!!!!!!

I also agree Michelin are now been looked on in an ever more negative view, which I for one feel is there own doing.

Im more than guilty of having Michelin at the back of my mind when carrying out my duties but Im sincerely thinking whats the point in it all, I really am. What I encountered in France recently enforced this. Eating at L'Astrance, which I enjoyed, I still have to say, would it be awarded three stars in the UK. I honestly would say not a chance. Says it all.

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Scanning through the star deletions, at least two restaurants which gained one star in 2008 have now lost it. I know one of them previously did have a star but the chef moved on.

This seems to suggest that the stars are not that 'sticky', as they will be removed if later deemed unfit.

I also find it surprising that Michelin are prepared to award a star for one year only, as this is a bit of 'losing face' or 'losing credibility', because it might appear that the star had been awarded recklessly or too hastily or 'in hope', and that it had been a big mistake. The same happened to another restaurant in Twickenham 4 years ago.

Maybe a first star should be considered 'deserved' only when it has passed into its second year ?

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Went to L'Atelier Joel Robuchon a few weeks ago and don't get the rise to a two-star.

Even the a la carte (!) portion sizes were so TINY (especially compared to Le Gavroche the night before) that I wouldn't really be able to award anything based on the taste of just a mouthful. The perfect place for people who are on a diet - and there seemed to be lots of slim fashionistas around us - but I wouldn't really recommend this to anybody who loves food. You don't get much of it.

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Went to L'Atelier Joel Robuchon a few weeks ago and don't get the rise to a two-star.

Even the a la carte (!) portion sizes were so TINY (especially compared to Le Gavroche the night before)...

Well, Michelin-starred restaurants aren't exactly known for their meal deals.

...that I wouldn't really be able to award anything based on the taste of just a mouthful...

This is what I find more troubling - nothing I've had at the l'Atelier (in N.Y.) was unforgettably spectacular (save a dessert I had on my latest visit) - even when I was able to get more than a bite. (Actually, depending on what you order, the portions at the one in N.Y. can be quite substantial, like this plate of pasta with morels.)

More than any other restaurant I've been to, l'Atelier requires some "luck of the order" for the uninitiated. And, for the initiated, it's a hard balance between ordering what you want against what is better value. That is, price alone doesn't necessarily correlate with the amount of food that will arrive.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I think what we're all saying is, Michelin get a bloody grip and stop pissing about. Practice what you preach and judge whats on your plate, give stars to those who deserve it, regardless of location, style or any other bullshit. If an inspector is reading this, take note of what we are all saying, chances are our fingers (and bellies) are far better placed than yours.

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Scanning through the star deletions, at least two restaurants which gained one star in 2008 have now lost it.  I know one of them previously did have a star but the chef moved on.

This seems to suggest that the stars are not that 'sticky', as they will be removed if later deemed unfit.

I also find it surprising that Michelin are prepared to award a star for one year only, as this is a bit of 'losing face' or 'losing credibility', because it might appear that the star had been awarded recklessly or too hastily or 'in hope', and that it had been a big mistake.  The same happened to another restaurant in Twickenham 4 years ago.

Maybe a first star should be considered 'deserved' only when it has passed into its second year ?

i think what it means by sticky is that once you are rated by michelin, unless you change your cuisine dramatically you stand a good chance of re-gaining it, not that the restaurant will keep it easily if the chef goes.

eg matt tomkinson won it at the goose and re-won it at the montague and micheal wignall held one at the devonshire and now has one at hisnew place (latymer?)

many of the changes are due to changes of staff rather than standards and i would argue that michelin generally wait for some time before awarding the first star to ensure it won't be a one year wonder, especially in the provinces eg l'enclum, fraiche, anthony's.

it's rare to gain one and lose it straight away if it's the same chef etc

you don't win friends with salad

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I was referring to The Goose and Tean, they gained a Star in 2008 and lost it in 2009, was this due to the chef leaving or to a re-assessment ?

yes as above!

matt left due to issues beyond his control and moved to the montague where he won the star back as it were, that's not to say it was taken for granted!

you don't win friends with salad

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Oh, sorry, I missed the link, and do you know what happened at Tean in the Scilly Isles ?

Apparently the chef left Tean too. From JournalLive:

Newcastle-born Kenny Atkinson, who earlier this year earned the Scilly Isles their first Michelin star for good food, will join Seaham Hall’s acclaimed White Room restaurant on August 1.

...

Mr Atkinson, who attained a Michelin star in only his first full season at the Tean Restaurant on St Martin’s, 28 miles off the UK mainland, won the coveted accolade for his locally sourced modern British dishes. Under Michelin rules the star stays with the restaurant, not the chef, however. So both Seaham Hall’s White Room and the Tean will retain their Michelin status until the new guide is published next year.

And Seaham Hall seem to have retained their star.

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