Michelin stars for 2011

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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.

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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.
 
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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:
 
3 stars
The Fat Duck
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
The Waterside Inn
Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road
 
2 stars
Pied a Terre
Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
Le Gavroche
Hibiscus
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Helene Darroze at the Connaught (new)
 
1 star
Chapter One
Hakkasan
Club Gascon
Rhodes Twenty Four
The Harwood Arms
La Trompette
Rasoi
Tom Aikens
The Glasshouse
Bingham Restaurant
Amaya
Apsleys
Zafferano
Benares
Galvin at Windows
The Greenhouse
Maze
Murano
Nobu (at The Metropolitan)
Nobu Berkeley St
Semplice
Tamarind
Umu
Wild Honey
L’Autre Pied
Locanda Locatelli
Rhodes W1
Texture
Arbutus
Quilon
Roussillon
Gauthier-Soho (new)
Seven Park Place at St James’s Hotel & Club (new)
Pétrus (new)
Galvin La Chapelle (new)
Viajante (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.
 
Links
For more Michelin flavoured reading here are reviews of two restaurants I think should be Michelin star but failed to get a guernsey – Launceston Place and Koffmann’s.

14 comments

  1. “in tears” thanks to Petersham Nursery winning it’s first Michelin star

    In the beginning its celebration, then comes the pressure to maintain or improve on the rating. There’s a TV program called ‘Michelin Madness’. I was not aware that a leading chef in France committed suicide because of prospects of his restaurant losing its three star rating. The restaurant maintained its three star rating but the owner decided to give up the battle anyway.

  2. I agree with your comments Gourmet Chick and especially the comparison to Oscar winning movies! Just as i would prefer to go and see a quirky foreign film at a little art deco theatre, so too do I (like you) prefer the laid back, less formal, buzzing atmosphere and food of places recommended by people like you!

  3. I always thought Launceston Place had a star but then found out it didn’t. And it still hasn’t got one. Criminal! Just criminal!!

  4. From your list I would recommend visiting the following (from my personal experience). There are others I haven’t visited, of course, which may also be worth a trip.

    The Fat Duck
    Le Gavroche
    Hibiscus
    Galvin at Windows (for breakfast)
    The Greenhouse
    Murano
    Wild Honey
    L’Autre Pied
    Locanda Locatelli
    Arbutus

    Those which I would like to visit include:

    The Waterside Inn
    The Harwood Arms
    Zafferano
    Galvin La Chapelle
    Viajante
    Petersham Nurseries Café

    Paul

  5. I know! Why isn’t Launcestion Place in there with a star?? I was thinking the same thing….

  6. We don’t have Michelin here as you know and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing!

  7. Wow, Kitchen W8? I thought they were very good, but I wouldn’t have pegged them for a star. I would def have expected launceston place to be awarded one before Kitchen W8. And I def do not understand why Arbutus continues to merit 1 star.

    Yay for Petersham Nurseries, though. That place is brilliant and I only wish I loved closer by to Richmond so I’d visit more often.

  8. Don’t think I’ve eaten in any of these places. Hence I wouldn’t know where to start…

  9. Three Cookies – I watched that program as well – it is really tragic that a chef committed suicide and shows the pressure some of them are under.

    Lex Eat – Exactly – no Hollywood blockbusters for us! Interesting that Petersham got a star as I remember your review of the restaurant was not that great.

    Mr Noodles – I think it does really deserve one, one of my favourite restaurants and great quality cooking.

    Paul – Thanks for that looks like we have a few wish list places in common.

    Kay – Seems like a glaring omission to me…

    Lorraine – Probably a good thing!

    American in London – I was interested to see Kitchen W8 as well – I was totally put off by your review of it.

    Sarah – Yes sadly most of them are beyond most of our reach.

  10. Completely agree- so often it’s the smaller, quirkier places that float my boat. I guess I’m just not that big on starched clothes or fawning staff…

  11. Tori – It would be strange to eat at Michelin star places all the time I think but good for an occasional treat!

  12. The TV program “Michelin Madness” and the assertion that he chef Bernard Loiseau committed suicide because of he Michelin pressure is a great example of poor journalism.

    We will obviously never know what drove him to take his life, but a good journalist should have mentioned he had a history of depression, with some saying he was bi-polar. His business empire had expanded a dramatically and he had a history of fragile finances (€30 million in debt at one stage) and this was the period post 9/11 when a lot of rich Americans did not travel hence putting stress on top end restaurants.. Plus his style of food was starting to fall from fashion. So all in all a lot of good reasons.

    But what about Michelin? Well the fact is it was the Gault Millau that downgraded him to 17/20 from 19/20. Michelin had not been published and had told him he had retained the three stars.

    A tragic loss of a great chef, but blaming the Michelin system is a pretty long shot. I also though the rest of the program didn’t really prove William Sitwell’s arguments or conclusion: most of the interviewees seemed to value Michelin..

  13. Hi Phil – Thanks for your detailed comment. Interesting that Loiseau was €30m in debt at one stage, something I did not know and the history of depression – as you say it adds some more context to his tragic death. The Michelin stars seem to be the one system people love to hate.

  14. Hi – I know I’m a little late but just wanted to say that I went to Kitchen W8 the other week and their set menu was fabulous and completely affordable. Get the veloute and the venison!

    Staff were also divine and gave us free chocolate truffles as it was my friend’s birthday. A really great experience and the food deserves the star.

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