Twinkle twinkle Michelin stars
It’s the gong all chefs want, so whose wish upon a Michelin star in Berkshire came true this year? Big pants on, let's meet our culinary giants.
Hot off the press (or should that be out of the oven?) are this year’s Michelin Guide star ratings. A staggering, 1,464 restaurants now form Michelin’s culinary constellation – adding 131 new twinklers. So if you’re in search of a fancy-pants dinner (er, always), don’t book anything until you’ve had a peek at our round-up showing where the stars are rising and falling in Berkshire and surrounding counties for 2020.
Big Berkshire news came in the form of The Michelin Service Award for Team Bonwick of The Crown at Burchetts Green, a Maidenhead gastropub with one star. Elsewhere, it was no change – Bray continues to reign supreme with the Alain Roux’s The Waterside Inn and Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck both retaining their three-star status, Heston’s Hind’s Head keeps its one star too. Hop over the border to Wiltshire and Chef Niall Keating at Whatley Manor’s fine dining restaurant The Dining Room snagged two stars.
There were a couple of big surprises – a new three-star thriller as London’s Sketch Lecture Room & Library joins the gastro top guns and Aimsir, Kildare went straight into the Michelin Guide with two stars for its locally-sourced Irish produce and foraged food. One worth travelling for.
But first let’s get the run down on the local restaurants shining bright…
The Fat Duck, Bray – 3 stars
Good luck getting a table at Heston’s flagship, but if you manage to get in on this gastronomic journey, strap in your credit card for blast off – it’s over £265 per head! Then add another £165 to the bill for the wine flight.
The Waterside Inn, Bray – 3 stars
Fancy being cooked for by Alain Roux? Course you do! What is modestly described as a ‘restaurant with rooms’ on the Waterside website is in fact a gastronomic powerhouse. No need to sell a kidney, the three-course Menu Gastronomique is £63.50. I reviewed it this year and the food was exceptional.
The Crown, Burchetts Green, Maidenhead – 1 star
Chef Simon Bonwick works the kitchen alone while several of his NINE kids work front of house. Expect the best seasonal British ingredients cooked using French techniques – simple, unfussy plates of food that taste epic.
L’Ortolan, Reading – 1 star
L’Ortolan, Reading’s only Michelin restaurant retains its star for the 18th consecutive year. Traditional service, white tablecloths, and beautifully presented French fare makes it perfect for special occasions.
The Hind’s Head, Bray – 1 star
The Hind’s Head in Bray is more of restaurant than Heston’s posh pub. Chef Pete Gray flicks through the history books to find unfashionable dishes and bring them back with the expected pizzazz. The eclectic decor reflects its royal and religious past, especially in the Royal Lounge where pre lunch/dinner cocktails are a must.
Coworth Park Ascot – 1 star
Executive chef Adam Smith showcases his gastronomic talents by taking classic British flavour combos and giving them a modern twist, creating dishes that are as pretty as a picture. And who doesn’t love a view across a croquet lawn?
The Blackbird, Newbury – 1 star
Dom Robinson (Tom Aiken’s former head chef) took on the tired village pub, brought the place back to life to serve his food, his way – a renaissance of classic cuisine using local, seasonal ingredients (Read the review here) and could not have loved it more. Batty nana chic decor, relaxed fine dining and a cracking 80s choon.
The Woodspeen, Newbury – 1 star
Chef John Campbell’s converted boozer just a few miles from his old stomping ground The Vineyard is a smart country restaurant without formality. Don’t be fooled though, this fine dining – it’s just forgoes the large linen bill and its acceptable to drink pints.
Sadly, The White Oak, Cookham lost its Bib Gourmand after six years on the trot. That said, it’s still a long term Muddy favourite.
The Hand & Flowers, Marlow – 2 stars
Artichioke, Amersham – 1 star NEW ENTRY
The Coach, Marlow – 1 star
The Hundred of Ashendon, Alkesbury – Bib Gourmand
The Three Oaks, Gerrards Cross – Bib Gourmand
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton – 2 stars
Oxford Kitchen, Oxford – 1 star
The Nut Tree, Murcott – 1 star
The Bell Inn, Langford – Bob Gourmand NEW ENTRY
The Magdalen Arms, Oxford – Bib Gourmand
Oli’s Thai, Oxford – Bib Gourmand
Sorrel, Ripley – 1 star
The Clock House, Ripley – 1 star
Tony Parkin at The Tudor Room, Egham – 1 star
Matt Worswick at The Latymer, Bagshot – 1 star
HANTS and Isle of White
The Black Rat, Winchester – 1 star
The Crown Inn, Upton – Bib Gourmand
Seaview, IOW – Bib Gourmand
The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Malmesbury – 2 stars NEW ENTRY
The Bybrook at The Manor, Castle Combe – 1 star
The Park (Lucknam Park Hotel), Colerne – 1 star
The Red Lion, East Chisenbury – 1 star
For a full list of Michelin starred pubs and restaurants click here, but if you don’t feel like being fancy pants, don’t forget I review a stupendous number of really brilliant eateries on a weekly basis!