The new local Michelin star winners for 2021
It’s the gong all chefs want (especially after the battering they've suffered over the last 12 months), so whose wish upon a Michelin star came true in? Let's meet the gastro glitterati.
Hot of the press is this year’s Michelin Guide star ratings – and it was a bit of a strange one with restaurants temporarily closed, and a graveyard of culinary giants laid waste by the global pandemic. But god knows the hospitality industry needed a boost, so a live YouTube event, hosted by Divina McCall, announced the newcomers to the gastronomic glitterati.
The big news of the night? Two queens of the kitchen were elevated to the exclusive three stars club – The Connaught’s Hélène Darroze and Clare Smyth of Core – a Notting Hill restaurant she opened in 2017 (she previously held three stars at Restaurant Gordon Ramsey). Plus A Wong is now the first Chinese restaurant in the UK to hold two stars.
This year, Michelin also introduced the brand new green star – awarded to 23 eateries committed to going the extra mile when it comes to sustainable cuisine. It’s great to see gongs go to Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, Daylesford Organic Farm in Stow-on-the-Wold and The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Malmesbury.
No breaking news in Berkshire, its foodie footprint remains unchanged with 12 twinklers in the Michelin constellation. Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and Alain Roux’s Waterside Inn both hang on to their three-star status, with the rest retaining their one stars. So if you’re desperate for a fancy-pants dinner when lockdown lifts (hell yes), don’t book anything until you’ve devoured our round-up showing where the stars are rising and falling in Berkshire and the surrounding counties in 2021.
A reminder of the criteria required for a star – it’s not all white tablecloths and tasting menus. Far from it. Officially, it’s fairly simple:
- One star: Very good cooking in its category.
- Two stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour.
- Three stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
Now let’s get the rundown on the local restaurants shining bright…
The Fat Duck, Bray – 3 stars
The Fat Duck’s 25th anniversary year has certainly been eventful – albeit for reasons we all want to forget. But when the doors reopen, grab your table pronto. Heston’s flagship restaurant in Bray has held three stars for an unforgettable bucket list foodie destination, but 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
Culinary titans Michel and Albert Roux opened The Waterside Inn in 1972, bringing with them fine dining at the highest level to the shires. Sadly both men died in the last year – Albert this month and Michel in March 2020 – but their legacy is huge. Michel’s son Alain has been running the show in Bray since 2002 and the restaurant has retained its three stars for 36 years. What is modestly described as a ‘restaurant with rooms’ on the Waterside website is in fact a gastronomic powerhouse. I reviewed it and the food was French, fancy and absolutely fabulous. It’s got old school charm in spades and one of the best locations in the county. The tasting menu is £175pp and a three-course thriller from the à la carte menu is about £160pp.
Restaurant Coworth Park, Sunningdale – 1 star
Executive chef Adam Smith showcases his gastronomic talents by taking classic British flavour combos and giving them a modern twist. Formal fine dining is what you’ll get here – plates of food dressed with ingredients elegantly draped on a plate with tweezers, crisp white table cloths, attentive service and a copper oak leaf halo hanging from the ceiling. Adam is an exceptional chef whose assured top-notch cooking, adds oomph to premium British ingredients. Steep prices go with the territory, although the fixed-price menus are good value.
The Crown, Burchetts Green, Maidenhead – 1 star
It’s a family affair at The Crown at Burchetts Green. While Chef Simon Bonwick works the kitchen alone, 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. This is a family that is passionate about great food and experience. The Michelin inspectors thought so, handing over a special service award at the 2020 ceremony.
L’Ortolan, Reading – 1 star
When a new head chef comes in, stars can fall. But James Greatorex has retained L’Ortolan’s one star for the 19th consecutive year. He took the top job just as we were heading into lockdown last year, so 2022 may be the ultimate test. That said, James has worked at L’Ortolan, Reading’s only Michelin restaurant, since 2018 and prior to that he was at The Fat Duck. So he knows his onions. Enjoy posh takeaway from L’Ortolan at Home right now and book in when you can to savour its pristine French fare.
The Hind’s Head, Bray – 1 star
Heston’s laid-back little sister is The Hind’s Head in Bray – a gastropub with crowd-pleasing dishes done with foodie flair. 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. Food at this level doesn’t come cheap, but they also offer one of the best value set menus I have ever come across – three courses for 30 quid.
The Blackbird, Newbury – 1 star
Dom Robinson (Tom Aiken’s former head chef) took on a tired village pub and brought it back to life serving his food, his way – a renaissance of classic cuisine using local, seasonal ingredients. I could not have loved it more (read the review here). I was blown away by the batty nana chic decor, relaxed fine dining and a killer 80s tunes. Regardless of your musical and interior tastes, Dom’s skill and passion in the kitchen are undeniable – his wheaten bread made with black treacle and buttermilk is heaven in carb form. You can order takeaway right now, but make sure you book in when his doors fling open.
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 just forgoes the large linen bill and its acceptable to drink pints. The Woodspeen is currently offering at-home dining boxes for you to get Michelin star experience without needing to get dressed or think about taxis home. It’ll do for now – we;’e gagging to get dressed up and have an almighty blow out. It’s been a while.
- The Hand & Flowers, Marlow – 2 stars
- The Coach, Marlow – 1 star
- Artichoke, Amersham – 1 star
- The Hundred of Ashendon, Alkesbury – Bib Gourmand
- The Three Oaks, Gerrards Cross – Bib Gourmand
- Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton – 2 stars and a NEW green star
- The Nut Tree, Murcott – 1 star
- The Bell Inn, Langford – Bib Gourmand
- Oli’s Thai, Oxford – Bib Gourmand
Sadly, The Oxford Kitchen lost its Michelin one star due to permanent closure and The Magdalen Arms, Oxford has lost its Bib Gourmand.
- The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Malmesbury – 2 stars and a NEW green star
- The Bybrook at The Manor, Castle Combe – 1 star
- Restaurant Hywel Jones by Lucknam Park, Colerne – 1 star
- Long Arms, South Wraxell – Bib Gourmand
The Red Lion, East Chisenbury lost its 1 star.
- Steve Smith at The Latymer, Bagshot – 1 star NEW ENTRY
- Sorrel, Dorking – 1 star
- The Clock House, Ripley – 1 star
- Tony Parkin at The Tudor Room, Egham – 1 star
- The Anchor, Ripley – Bib Gourmand
- Dastaan, Ewell – Bib Gourmand
HANTS and Isle of White
- Pulpo Negro, New Alresford – Bib Gourmand
- Seaview, IOW – Bib Gourmand
The Black Rat, Winchester lost its 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 brilliant eateries, for more future foodie fun.