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London's Hibiscus, Quilon, Rhodes W1 Restaurant, La Trompette and Wild Honey had good reason to celebrate recently thanks to being awarded one Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2008.
Despite its sister restaurant, Arbutus, being awarded a star last year, Wild Honey’s chef-proprietor Anthony Demetre told Square Meal that he was delighted at the award. He attributes the restaurant’s success to its ‘great cooking combined with sensitive prices’. Both Wild Honey (pictured left) and Arbutus offer among the cheapest Michelin-starred experiences in the capital.
Gary Rhodes, who already holds a star at Rhodes Twenty Four in the City, said the award was a lovely surprise and felt just as exhilarating as the first time he was awarded a star in 1986, when he was cooking at The Castle Hotel in Taunton. He said his plans for Rhodes W1 Restaurant were to ‘introduce that little bit more and work towards achieving two stars’.
This year’s dark horse was Quilon. The Westminster restaurant has been open for eight years and serves food from India’s southwest coast. ‘Quilon crept up and improved gradually over the years,’ said Derek Bulmer, editor of the guide.
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay remains the only current London establishment to hold the ultimate accolade of three Michelin stars. In comparison, Paris is home to nine three-starred restaurants, while New York has three and in the new Tokyo guide, published last November, there were eight. However, Bulmer rejects the suggestion that London is significantly lagging behind other world capitals in gastronomic prowess. ‘You can’t just compare numbers of stars,’ he says. ‘Paris has a lot of traditional restaurants, while New York and London are much stronger on variety. Quilon is the fifth Indian restaurant in London to be awarded a star.’
Bulmer also points to the capital’s trend for informal restaurants as a reason for the lack of new two- and three-star restaurants. This was further highlighted by a flood of new Bib Gourmands, which denote ‘good food at moderate prices’ (three courses for under £28). Nine new Bib Gourmands were awarded this year, bringing the total in the capital to 27, a third more than in 2007. Among the recipients were Galvin Bistrot de Luxeand last year’s newcomers Great Queen Street, Benja and Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub The Narrow.
Despite the trend for informality, Bulmer is optimistic about London’s fine-dining scene. ‘London’s future looks healthy,’ he says. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised to see another three-star restaurant in the next couple of years.’
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay