London loses and gains a three-star restaurant while Ireland and Manchester make history at Michelin ceremony
The 2020 Michelin Guide stars were unveiled today in London. Despite the announcement of a new three-star restaurant, it’s not an exciting year for the British capital. It could be said that it’s the year of ‘s restaurants.
180 starred establishments are featured on the 2020 red guide, including one new three-star, four new two-stars and 23 new one-stars. This year’s main revelation is the promotion of Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch (The Lecture Room & Library), run by chef Johannes Nuding, from two to three stars. London, however, also loses a three-star restaurant, the Araki, which saw the departure of sushi master Mitsuhiro Araki last March.
The big announcements are very much in the face of Brexit: the French chefs are the real winners, as well as the Irish restaurants and Scandi talent. But we all know that kitchens never had frontiers, and if Britain’s level of cooking has improved dramatically year by year, it’s predominantly thanks to the European chefs who have moved to Great Britain, and the British chefs who went to learn (and import) techniques and food culture from France, Spain, Italy, Denmark and beyond.
Why was it unexciting for London? Well, because it’s the year of ‘s: Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant received a third star; Anne Sophie-Pic’s its second; and Nuno Mendes’s Shoreditch place its maiden star. But none of them was in attendance: Johannes Nuding, Luca Piscazzi and Edoardo Pellicano took the stage, respectively. And rightly so. But it’s not very exciting when most of the promotions come under the name of a chef who is not “in house”.
There were exceptions though: Rafael Cagali’s and Paulo Airaudo’s Da Terra, which opened just nine months ago to great acclaim; Endo at the Rotunda (the ex-Zuma sushi chef’s place at the former BBC Television Centre); and country chic (sort of) gastropub/restaurant Dysart Petersham. Da Terra brings back to Shoreditch Hotel that star that Viajante had and that Lee Westcott tried really hard to get with Typing Room (it’s still unexplained why it never happened – but he did it this year with Pensons).
“Despite the obvious challenges being faced by the industry here in the UK, we are thrilled that this has been such a stellar year, and we have seen many first ventures opening and rapidly rising to success,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, adding: “[Sketch] won its first star in 2005 and its second in 2013. Our inspectors judge the cooking here to be wonderfully complex and highly original, with each element of the meal excelling in terms of structure, composition and, above all, flavour.”
Besides La Dame de Pic, two more restaurants have been promoted from one to two stars: The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury (Niall Keating) and The Greenhouse in Dublin (Mikael Viljanen).
Indeed, it is a record year for Ireland: Jordan Bailey’s (former head chef of world-class Maaemo in Norway) Aimsir – it means weather in Irish, and it’s focused on foraged and preserved produce – makes its debut with two stars. This achievement has perhaps come a little too fast: the restaurant opened just four months and a half ago. Ireland has never had so many starred establishments, a testament to its blossoming food scene.
Meanwhile, 160 miles east of Dublin, Manchester has finally received its first star in 45 years: Mana (from ex Noma chef Simon Martin) reclaims for the rainy city an accolade last achieved by the French Restaurant in 1975. Many chefs have attempted this feat, more preeminently Simon Rogan who ran the French between 2013 and 2016; even his protégé Adam Reid, who has taken over from the Enclume chef, delivering a high contemporary-cooking standard without the burden of bearing a big name, didn’t make it.
The Lake District is another big winner. There are three restaurants gaining a star: Old Stamp House at Ambleside; Allium at Askham Hall in Askham; and The Cottage in the Wood in Braithwaite.
Every year there seem to be new themes and trends rising, and the new guide celebrates the appetite for small, intimate spaces: Stark in Broadstairs seats only 10 diners, and both Endo at the Rotunda and Mãos can host 16 guests.
Finally, for the first time, an Indian restaurant not based in London gains a star: Opheem in Birmingham. The capital, however, loses one for Benares.
Three specific awards were announced: The Crown at Burchetts Green takes home the one for the front of house; Jurica Gojevic at Adare Manor the best sommelier; and Loam in Galway the sustainability recognition.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
The guide is now available for free on the newly launched Michelin website which you can visit here.