Michelin star and fine dining

I have been lucky enough to eat in a few different Michelin Star restaurants around Yorkshire, UK and abroad. I have also eaten in many restaurants that I think deserve a star and some that I think don’t. Research tells me that Michelin Star criteria is as follows:

· The quality of the ingredients
· The skill in their preparation and the combination of flavours
· The level of creativity
· The value for money
· The consistency of culinary standards

When I visit a Michelin Star restaurant, it’s unlikely that I am going to visit it again so I drop the consistency criteria and I add service, presentation and atmosphere. Although service does not appear in the official criteria, it has a strong influence on whether I would return or recommend.

So, here I will talk about a few places that I have visited so far. I’m hoping to have plenty more to add to this list over time!

The Box Tree, Ilkley, Yorkshire, England

Being the most local to me, I really wanted The Box Tree to be amazing. Unfortunately, I found it to be too traditional. It didn’t excite me, it didn’t show me anything new. I liked the way the butter was carved in to a rose and that’s where my enthusiasm ended I’m afraid. I did like the cute little dining room and the cottage feel that comes with the restaurant. It’s a beautiful building, inside and out. I liked the structure of the meal, the canapés and pre-drinks in the Lounge area, but I also think this should be as standard anywhere with a star.

Quality 7/10

Skill 5/10

Presentation 5/10

Creativity 5/10

Value 7/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 6.5/10

The Burlington restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, Skipton, Yorkshire, England

 

Although The Burlington no longer has a star, I did visit it when it did and I have visited since. This review is based on my most recent visit, post star. I must acknowledge that my visit when it did have a star was significantly better.

This visit, there were many elements that I did enjoy and the presentation was beautiful. I just was not blown away as I had been previously. I liked the restaurant and the use of different areas for different parts of the meal, i.e. Canapés, Meal, Petit Fours. Another thing that I liked and think is really important, is when the waiting staff explain the course to you when they bring it.

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 8/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 8/10

The Peat Inn, St Andrews, Scotland

 

I just absolutely loved it here! The value for money is incredible. The setting is beautiful. The food is gorgeous. The only downside is that it;s not closer to where I live. I loved the Haggis, neeps and tatties canapés, they were a fabulous touch. The food was somewhat simple but really well done.

Quality 9/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 7/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 10/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 8/10

L’enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria, England

So L’enclume was my first restaurant with 2 Michelin Stars. The biggest difference that I saw between 1 star and 2 star is the level of skill. There are some dishes from 1 star restaurants that I enjoyed more than some of L’enclume’s 2 star dishes. Their level of skill and use of technique was fantastic. They made some very simple dishes taste unbelievably good. The downside to my experience here was that there were too many courses. There were 10 courses on the menu plus your standard extra. I would have preferred 7 amazing, unforgettable courses. The setting is beautiful and I think they use a lot of their own grown produce, which is always a bonus for me.

Quality 9/10

Skill 9/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 8/10

Service 8/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 8.5/10

The Man behind the Curtain, Leeds, Yorkshire, England

I visited the Man behind the Curtain shortly before it got it’s Michelin Star. I have only visited here for lunch and not for dinner so my review is based only on the lunchtime service. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed. It’s very expensive, overpriced I daresay, and pretty average. Again this could be due to it being a lunchtime but there was very little atmosphere. The whole experience felt kind of uncomfortable. It’s a wide open space and I get that it’s meant to be trendy, but it felt cold and unwelcoming. I imagine if you placed some canteen tables in any art gallery, it would feel very much the same. I liked the knife and fork. They were cool. Like little paintbrushes.

I arrived in the restaurant, through the clothes shop and up in the lift. Nobody was there to greet me. I waited. Eventually got shown to my table. I was given a very expensive drinks menu to peruse. We ate our lunch. Some of the courses were well presented, some were not. The latter I couldn’t post pictures of on here. One looks like a dirty potty. Very off-putting. There was certainly creativity, but it didn’t always work. When it was time to leave, I had to get my own coat on my way out. Not really what I expected. I had really wanted this place to fill a gaping hole that Anthony’s left behind. Sadly, it was nowhere near.

Quality 5/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 6/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 5/10

Service 5/10

Atmosphere 3/10

Overall 5.5/10

Van Zeller, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England

So Van Zeller doesn’t have a star, but I think it certainly is achievable. As soon as I arrived, I compared it to Michelin Star experience which immediately alerted me to the fact that this was one to keep an eye on. The service was great, attentive without being overbearing. I did find, however, that the staff were often unable to answer my questions. I would have liked to see staff more knowledgeable about the menu and it’s contents. There were some minor tweaks, pigeon slightly over cooked for example, not nothing major. The Passionfruit tart with Cardamom ice cream was divine! Lovely setting, felt trendy yet comfortable.

Quality 7/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 7/10

Creativity 7/10

Value 8/10

Service 7/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 7.5/10

The Samling, Windermere, Lake District, England

What an amazing lunch! Unfortunately, the lead up to the meal left me anxious that it was going to be below expectations. The lounge where we had our Canapés was a bit shabby. It felt clinical, rather than comfortable. The staff were pleasant and professional but could have been a bit more attentive. I was then taken through to the dining area, where everything changed! the setting was cosy and comfortable. The serving staff were knowledgeable and charming and the food was incredible. Each dish resulted in involuntary noises of pleasure. I just never wanted it to end! After the meal we were taken back to the shabby Lounge. Something that brought the experience down a bit here was that we were presented with a small selection of petit fours and asked to select some to share between us. Now petit fours are small by name and nature. You can’t taste them properly by sharing.  I would expect us to each be presented with a matching selection of petit fours. Afterall, you pay per person.

Quality 10/10

Skill 8.5/10

Presentation 10/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 9/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

The Cottage in the Woods, Keswick, Lake District, England

What a find. It’s not Michelin Star (yet) but it is fine dining. This is a restaurant with rooms and I stayed here in August with the sole purpose of trying the restaurant. Although the rooms are pretty awesome. I didn’t know what to expect from this restaurant but I really enjoyed it. The views in the panoramic dining room are amazing! The menu is set and reasonably small which I like. I feel that this means the chef really knows the dishes. They only take on a certain amount of diners each night to ensure that the chef is not over worked and doesn’t compromise on quality. This is great if you’ve got a table but upsetting if you want one and haven’t booked. This was our experience the next evening. We stayed 2 nights and ate here on the first night. We were so impressed that we wanted to eat here again the following night but it was booked up, much to our disappointment. The food was well presented and had incredible flavours. I can still taste the caramelised white chocolate in the dessert! Beautiful. Also the wine pairings were perfectly matched and delicious wines, including a sweet Pol Roger Champagne.

Quality 9/10

Skill 7/10

Presentation 8.5/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 8/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

The Yorke Arms, Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire

I really liked that the chef here is a woman, which is something you don’t see that often in Michelin Star. The building is beautiful and it’s in a lovely setting. I had a lovely night here, the food was really nice, nothing outstanding but enough to bring me back. Service was good. I went for dinner but I think it would also be a really nice lunch venue.

Quality 7/10

Skill 6/10

Presentation 6/10

Creativity 6/10

Value 8/10

Service 7/10

Atmosphere 8/10

Overall 7/10

Holbeck Ghyll, Lake District, England

Holbeck Ghyll has unfortunately lost it;s star since I visited. I will always have a soft spot for this restaurant as it was our first Michelin Star experience and we loved every minute of it. I still remember the amuse bouche of butternut squash and gruyère velouté . I remember being surprised at all the little extras, the amuse, the canapès and the petit fours. It’s quite sad that these things have now become expectations, rather than surprises. The setting is lovely, it is part of a hotel which belongs to the small luxury hotels of the world collection. I love this collection.

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 8/10

Creativity 5/10

Value 8/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 7.5/10

Crafthouse, Leeds, England

I’m not sure if Crafthouse is officially a fine dining restaurant, but I have been impressed every time I have eaten here. I like to come here for the Sunday lunch with unlimited prosecco, I find it excellent quality and value for money. Some places can be a bit tight with ‘unlimited’ drinks but I have never left Crafthouse sober!

Quality 8/10

Skill 8/10

Presentation 9/10

Creativity 8/10

Value 9/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9/10

Le table d’Eugene, Paris, France

I have definitely saved the best until last here. This is hands down the best meal I have ever had in my life. It’s a little unfair to put this place in as it’s hardly local to us Yorkshire folk. If you find yourself over in Paris, get this place booked! Also make sure you have the accompanying wine flight, it matched perfectly!

The restaurant itself is fairly small and soon fills up. It’s a strange place because the area where the restaurant is located feels quite rough around the edges. The restaurant inside couldn’t be more different. The service was excellent, we had two servers looking after us. They checked anything we would like to change on the menu before bringing our courses and amended where required. They had excellent explanations of the food and wine. We loved it so much that when we finished each course, we were jealous when we saw it going to another table because we knew what excitement was coming for them! The flavours were incredible. One dish had a carrot and it was the best carrot I’ve tasted in my whole life! The lamb was almost punched me in the face with flavour. The fish was perfect. The dessert was amazing, well one of the desserts, there were two. As well as three amuse bouche! This particular dessert was awesome, it was a chocolate dome that the waiter poured thick hot chocolate sauce over and it melted to reveal surprises inside. I know this is being done a lot now but I doubt it is with the same quality. I mean this dome had edible gold! I would go back here in a heartbeat.

Quality 10/10

Skill 10/10

Presentation 10/10

Creativity 9/10

Value 10/10

Service 9/10

Atmosphere 9/10

Overall 9.75/10

 

 

 

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