The recent release of the 2012 Michelin starred restaurants not only allows us to write about one of our favourite subjects: what goes in our tummies; it also reveals some interesting facts about fine regional dining in the UK and Ireland.
For example, you may not be surprised to find that London boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than anywhere else in the country. Fine dining is, after all, just one of many strings on London’s bow. But head further north and you’ll find Scotland laying claim to a large part of the fine dining landscape, a bit like Braveheart, but with knives and forks instead of pikes and swords.
Edinburgh offers four prestigious Michelin-starred eateries: The Kitchin on the waterfront, Martin Wishart in Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith and Number One at The Balmoral Hotel all held on to their stars from 2011. They were joined by newcomer Castle Terrace. Nestled under the shadow of the Castle, Edinburgh’s latest recipient of a Michelin Star is from the team behind The Kitchin, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see its star has risen so fast.
Over the Firth of Forth lies Fife (now there’s a tongue-twister), which is no slouch when it comes to fine dining either. Husband and wife, Bruce and Jackie’s Sangster’s in Elie retains its star, as does The Peat Inn Restaurant. And when you add the four restaurants in the Highlands, you have a very strong showing for Scotland.
Not to be outdone, over the North Channel, Dublin offers Ireland’s first two Michelin starred eatery at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. Not only is French chef Guilbaud’s restaurant the first to achieve the double, but it is also known as the city’s priciest place to eat – a dubious honour if ever there was one.
If you’re looking to place less pressure on the wallet then Chapter One, in the Dublin Writers Museum, seems like a good place to start. Joining it in retaining its star for the second year are longstanding classical French restaurant l’Ecrivain and Thornton’s which now offers its own canapé bar.
Fans of the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon series The Trip will be pleased to hear that one of the Lake District’s most acclaimed restaurants / ex-Casualty stars, Holbeck Ghyll has retained its star. So too has Cartmel’s L’Enclume, with its infamous taster menu, not to mention the lovely Yorke Arms.
If there’s one thing that the 2012 Michelin does suggest, it’s that good food doesn’t need to cost the earth. The second star awarded to The Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow may have raised a few eyebrows but it’s obviously a strong testament to Tom and Beth Kerridge’s successful approach to pub grub. And perhaps more importantly, you can now have a two-course set lunch at a double Michelin star winner for only £12.50!
If you fancy some more fine dining recommendations, check out our GoLocal guide to some of the UK’s best kept dining secrets.