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Michelin Guide UK 2019: our predictions

Michelin Guide UK 2019: our predictions

by Great British Chefs 17 September 2018

The new Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK and Ireland for 2019 will be announced on 1 October 2018, but who’s in with a chance to ascend the culinary ladder? We take a look at who we think deserves to be recognised.

Predicting Michelin stars is always a bit tricky – no one really knows how the secretive Michelin inspectors decide who gets the nod and who doesn’t. The Guide is desperately trying to shed its reputation for favouring old-school, white-tablecloth-and-silver-service establishments over more casual spots (giving a star to a street food stand in Singapore being the most extreme example) – but many still believe a fancy dining room can tip the scales in a restaurant’s favour.

That said, there are some pretty sure bets for this year’s announcement (both formal and casual), as some very high-profile restaurants have opened in the past twelve months or so. We’ve put together a list of the restaurants we believe should be winning a Michelin star or getting their second or third below. While we won’t have any clue if they do or not until the awards on 1 October, they are certainly some of the best examples of cooking in the UK today and, accolades aside, should be at the very top of your must-visit list.

3 stars

The Araki was the only new three-star restaurant announced last year, which wasn’t a huge amount of use to most as it only has nine seats and costs £300 per person (although we’re certain that, if you do get a seat, it will be one of the best meals of your life). Michelin don’t hand out three stars easily, so it’s perhaps unlikely we’ll see another join the ranks of The Araki, The Fat Duck, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, The Waterside Inn and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester this year. But if anyone is going to win one, it’s the incredible Restaurant Sat Bains, Simon Rogan’s lauded L’Enclume or Nathan Outlaw’s eponymous restaurant down in Cornwall (which all currently hold two Michelin stars). In our eyes they’re all deserving of that coveted third star, but we’ll have to wait and see if Michelin agree.

2 stars

Ynyshir (Wales)

Gareth Ward has transformed this rural country house hotel into a world-class, boundary-breaking restaurant-with-rooms that’s dishing out some of the tastiest, most interesting food the UK has scene in years right now, and we really can’t see why he hasn’t already been given that second star by Michelin. He recently became the proud owner of a Himalayan salt chamber, where he ages his Welsh Wagyu beef (and other meats) for up to 300 days, before pairing it with intense soy-based dressings and pickled, preserved or fermented vegetables. The fact that it’s all served in a Scandi-inspired dining room in an old country house surrounded by a RSPB nature reserve just adds to the incredible experience.

Moor Hall (Lancashire)

We’ve been following Mark Birchall’s rise to the top since he was head chef at Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, and have really enjoyed watching his own very ambitious restaurant Moor Hall take form over the past few years. After visiting his restaurant a few weeks ago, we can tell that all his hard work has more than paid off. The restaurant itself is stunning – an extension to an ex-residential manor just outside Aughton in Lancashire that’s bright, open, airy and allows you a peek into the immaculate kitchen, where Mark and his team create a stunning tasting menu that makes the most of Lancashire produce and the flavourful herbs of the UK.

That’s only one part of the experience, however – there’s also a beautiful, ever-expanding kitchen garden; a more casual restaurant in a converted barn; a dedicated dairy (with plans for a brewery and bakery in the pipeline) and all the charcuterie is made on-site. The rooms are exquisite too, and mean you get to enjoy one of the finest breakfasts we’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Mark is an astonishingly good chef and Moor Hall received its first Michelin star last year within a year of opening. That might mean Michelin wait a year or two before bestowing him with a second, but in our opinion the quality of the food, service and surroundings is there already.

Core by Clare Smyth (London)

Clare Smyth has had quite the year – since leaving the three-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and opening her first solo venture Core, she has been named the World’s Best Female Chef by the World’s Top 50 Restaurant Awards and come in straight at number three on the Good Food Guide’s Top 50. She didn’t win a star last year as Core had only been open a few months, but many are tipping her to enter the guide straight in at two stars (as Claude Bosi did with Bibendum last year) – and it’s easy to see why. With so much experience behind her and an incredible menu on offer, a meal at Core is easily one of London’s most wished for.

HIDE Above (London)

HIDE is a bit of a tricky one, as it technically houses two restaurants – HIDE Above and HIDE Ground (plus a beautiful bar, Below, in the basement). Whether Michelin will recognise it as one or two separate entities is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the food at HIDE Above is at a two-star status. Ollie Dabbous and head chef Luke Selby have created a stunning menu that’s themed around nature, and the complexity and work that goes into every dish is, quite frankly, mind-boggling (especially when the dishes themselves look simple and natural on the plate). If it doesn’t go straight in at two stars this year then it’s certainly on the cards for the future.

1 star

HIDE Ground (London)

HIDE Above might be where you get the full tasting menu experience, but that certainly doesn’t mean the larger all-day restaurant below is subpar. A meal at Ground is easily Michelin star quality, with beautiful dishes served at breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. And that’s before you get started on the wine list – the biggest in London (and possibly the world).

Cornerstone (London)

Tom Brown has enjoyed huge amounts of success since he broke out on his own after a stellar career working for Nathan Outlaw. His restaurant Cornerstone in Hackney Wick has had a succession of rave reviews, with his small plates (especially the brown shrimp crumpet) taking over Instagram. The restaurant itself might be a little bit more casual than most Michelin-starred restaurants, but if the inspectors are after flavour and good service above all else, there’s no reason why Tom won’t get a star.

Adam Reid at The French (Manchester)

Manchester’s lack of a Michelin-starred in recent years has always been a topic of debate amongst foodie circles (it was even made into a mini TV series a few years ago), even though the people of Manchester don’t seem to mind whatsoever (there are plenty of amazing restaurants there which don’t fit the bill yet still serve incredible food). If anyone is going to do it however, it’s Adam Reid at The French. Previously a Simon Rogan restaurant, Adam continued to run the place after his departure, and it has gone from strength to strength in the past year or so.

64 Degrees (Brighton)

If there’s one thing you can say about Michael Bremner’s food at 64 Degrees, it’s that it is absolutely delicious. His compact restaurant serves small plates packed with big flavours, taking inspiration from all over the world to create a sort of fusion cooking that puts taste above all else. With plenty of accolades already bestowed upon him, we don’t know whether Michael is gunning for a star or not – and while the restaurant is pretty much as far away from white tablecloths as you can get, if the inspectors are looking at the food, we can’t see why they wouldn’t add it to this year’s guide.

Ikoyi (London)

Ikoyi offers something totally unique in the UK – a menu of West African-inspired dishes that have been given the contemporary fine dining treatment. A meal there tastes like something most of us have never experienced before, with ingredients such as grains of selim and ndolé leaves used to flavour the finest British meat, fish and vegetables. Take the jollof rice, for example – it comes with smoked bone marrow or smoked crab, while the restaurant’s take on suya (a type of African barbecue) features wagyu beef. The Michelin Guide for UK and Ireland is yet to include an African-inspired entry – could this be the year that changes?

Roganic (London)

Simon Rogan’s London outpost (ever since he departed Fera at Claridges) is a shoe-in for a star, surely. After all, Simon has a track record of running Michelin-approved restaurants (a meal at L’Enclume is one of the finest you can have in the country) and he has put every effort into ensuring Roganic is of the same quality as his flagship, in the hope that it will convince more Londoners to make the trip to Cumbria. There's also a strong chance Simon's super-exclusive chef's-table-meets-development-kitchen Aulis could get a nod as well.

The Oxford Kitchen (Oxford)

Paul Welburn held a Michelin star for an impressive five years at Gary Rhodes’ W1, but since then has been quietly turning his unassuming Oxford-based restaurant into one of the city’s most prized destinations. With a whole host of impressive cooking methods, flavour combinations and international influences on show, this is culinary magic at its finest – and we’re tipping it to be included in this year’s announcement.

Salt (Stratford-upon-Avon)

In a city where pre-theatre menus reign supreme, Paul Foster’s Salt stands out from the crowd. Not just because it focuses only on à la carte and tasting menus – but because his dishes are some of the most perfect examples of modern British cooking found in the UK today. Paul opened the restaurant himself raising funds through Kickstarter, and his passion comes through in every aspect of the place. With friendly, relaxed service and some truly stunning plates of food, we think it more than deserves a star.

The Little Fish Market (Brighton)

Our second Brighton-based pick, The Little Fish Market is run by two-man team Duncan Ray (chef) and Rob Smith (front of house). The duo ensures each of the twenty covers receives some of the best fish dishes in the country via a tasting menu that changes daily depending on what’s brought in by day boats. Duncan worked at The Fat Duck for four years, but don’t expect dry ice and sous vides everywhere – he prefers to cook fish using traditional methods, which he says provides the best flavour and texture. This little restaurant ticks all the boxes for Michelin, and it’s been tipped by many to become Brighton’s first starred restaurant.

Alchemilla (Nottingham)

Nottingham’s restaurant scene has been dominated by Restaurant Sat Bains in recent years, but Alchemilla – run by ex-Sat Bains and Turners chef Alex Bond – is quickly becoming just as renowned. Alex was named Chef to Watch in the 2019 edition of the Good Food Guide just a year after opening, and the beautiful dining room, complete with ‘living walls’ covered with ferns and moss, is where you’ll find picture perfect dishes that celebrate seasonal vegetables (with meat and fish generally playing a supporting role). Another Michelin-starred restaurant would place Nottingham firmly on the culinary map.

The Three Chimneys (Scotland)

As one of our top picks last year, we were surprised when The Three Chimneys didn’t make the 2018 list. Perhaps it was a little too early for Scott Davies and his team, but we’re such fans of his incredible, Scandi-meets-Scottish dishes that we’re putting him in our predictions again this year. Being based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland means Scott relies on local produce out of necessity, as importing ingredients from the mainland can prove time-consuming and costly. By preserving the seasons, working with the island’s producers and using cutting-edge techniques in the kitchen, he creates wonderful dishes that offer a true taste of the Scottish islands.

Le Cochon Aveugle (York)

This small, contemporary restaurant is one of York’s shining stars, with chef Josh Overington (who appeared on Great British Menu) at the helm. Classical French techniques, modern European flavours and the very best ingredients are turned into ‘blind’ tasting menus of either four or eight courses, which change daily, so you’re never sure what you’re going to be eating until you sit down. York has a pretty impressive list of restaurants within its walls, but Le Cochon Aveugle is where you’ll find some of the most interesting, accomplished cooking – could this be the year York gets a star?

The Marram Grass (Wales)

If Michelin are serious about shedding their image of favouring grandiose, formal restaurants over everything else, then The Marram Grass is a serious contender for this year’s guide. Brothers Liam and Ellis Barrie have transformed a greasy spoon café on a caravan park into one of north Wales’ top culinary attractions, championing local produce and seasonal ingredients. The team has recently set up an on-site farm (complete with pigs), and the dishes are prime examples of why modern British food has become so popular.

Winteringham Fields (Lincolnshire)

In the Lincolnshire countryside, this restaurant-with-rooms run by Colin McGurran makes the use of its own farm when preparing natural, beautiful plates of food. The site has plenty of history with Michelin, previously holding two stars, but for some unknown reason it hasn’t been given a star since Colin took it over back in 2005. For us, the food, service and setting of Winteringham Fields couldn’t be more suitable for a Michelin star, so we’re hoping this year Colin finally gets the recognition he deserves.

André Garrett at Cliveden House (Berkshire)

If you want serious luxury, classical service and plenty of historical importance, you can’t get better than a trip to Cliveden House. And the stately home’s restaurant run by André Garrett reflects the staunch decadence of the place beautifully. Quality local ingredients are cooked to perfection, plated with precision and look as good as the stunning surroundings. It’s everything Michelin look for in a restaurant, and we’re sure the team there are hoping they get recognition this year.

Lake Road Kitchen (Cumbria)

Cumbria offers some of the UK’s best dining experiences, and it looks like Lake Road Kitchen is set to join the likes of L’Enclume, Forest Side and Gilpin Hotel and Lake House. Meat is cooked over fire, but there is a definite Japanese influence in the kitchen which is used to turn local vegetables into stunning dishes. The restaurant has been lauded in the likes of The Guardian and The Sunday Times, and many believe it’s worthy of a star. Do keep an eye out for Cumbria’s other front-runner, too – Pentonbridge Inn in Carlisle, which was opened by ex-Marcus Wareing head chefs Cassie and Jake White and is now run by Gary McDermott.

Sorrel (Surrey)

After he left his eponymous restaurant Drake’s (which has since turned into The Clock House and gained a star last year), Steve Drake has opened Sorrel in Dorking. Seeing as he held a Michelin star for twelve years at his last venture, it’s likely that he’ll get another for his latest project. Set in a beautiful 300-year-old building, the menu is peppered with intriguing ideas and flavour combinations which champion produce above all else, and the dishes that leave the pass are stunning to look at.

Sabor (London)

When it comes to Spanish cooking in the UK, Nieves Barragán Mohacho is the chef to look to. Having won a Michelin star during her time at Barrafina, she set out on her own to open Sabor, which has quickly become one of London’s hottest restaurants. With a buzzing tapas bar downstairs and a restaurant specialising in grilled asador meats upstairs, it’s certainly a hugely successful business, and the quality of the dishes are certainly worth attention from Michelin.

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