Today is a big day for the restaurant world as the Michelin stars for 2011 have been announced. These twinkly accolades have been known to make or break a restaurant and those eateries which aspire to be of Michelin standard waited for the announcements with bated breath. My Twitter stream went beserk when the results were announced despite the fact Michelin left things pretty much as they were, adding just one two star restaurant and a couple of one star restaurant. From the winners, Twitter reported Skye Gyngell was “in tears” thanks to Petersham Nursery winning it’s first Michelin star, along with the Galvin La Chapelle team who were “ecstatic” to get their first star.
Michelin star restaurant – The River Cafe
It seems like a Michelin star matters to chefs but what about for customers? There are a lot of fantastic restaurants which don’t aspire to be of Michelin standard and aim for a more laid back approach and casual attitude while still serving truly excellent food. I have to admit generally my favourite restaurants are those that are not of the Michelin ilk. Instead I prefer to eat at cheap, cheerful and buzzy places like Polpo and Vinoteca (Polpo incidentally picked up a Michelin Bib Gourmand – the budget version of a star).
If you are looking for fine dining with a bias towards French cuisine look to Michelin. If you are looking for anything else I think you are better off asking your friends, reading newspaper reviews, reading blogs or keeping an eye on Twitter. Think of Michelin like the Oscars of the restaurant world. Just like some of the Oscars favour movies which are released at a certain time of year, feature a beautiful person playing a physically unattractive person (a common success strategy eg Charlize Theron in Monster) or deal with epic and universal themes, Michelin stars reward excellence but only of a certain sort.
In the kitchen at Michelin star restaurant, The Ledbury
So whether you are Michelin obsessed or think it is rubbish, the London (and close to London) winners and losers in Michelin world for 2011 were:
The Fat Duck
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
The Waterside Inn
Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road
Pied a Terre
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Helene Darroze at the Connaught (new)
Rhodes Twenty Four
The Harwood Arms
Galvin at Windows
Nobu (at The Metropolitan)
Nobu Berkeley St
Seven Park Place at St James’s Hotel & Club (new)
Galvin La Chapelle (new)
Petersham Nurseries Café (new)
Kitchen W8 (new)
The list links to those Michelin star restaurants I have reviewed on this blog. Not too many are there! I did warn you I was not such a Michelin girl.