Seeing Stars in The Alps

Saturday, September 19th , 2015

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La Bouitte is the newest three Michelin star restaurant in France, and indeed in all of Europe. It is in the Alps in a ski resort called St Martin de Belleville, a pretty spot with fine views across the mountain scenery (pictured). The food had a particularly emphasis on using local produce, so on the plate you see crayfish and fera from nearby Lake Geneva rather than the usual luxury ingredients like langoustine and turbot from Brittany. The staff were charming and the food was very enjoyable, with a sweetbread dish the star of the meal, though it is hardly a bargain. The issue was that it seemed to me quite a long way from three star level, a problem not with the enjoyable restaurant itself but with Michelin’s scoring. Out of the last twenty three star promotions I reckon just three to be of true three star quality, all the more bizarre when there are some terrific restaurants around with two stars that are deemed unworthy of the ultimate accolade (such as Les Crayeres, Sa Qua Na or Guy Lassausaie in France).

l'Aventure is one of those restaurants invisible to the media, social or otherwise. Tucked way in a quiet street in St Johns Wood, it has been running since 1979 under the same female chef/patron, so must be doing something right, and does so little marketing that it does not even have a web site. Although not trying to be more than a neighbourhood French restaurant, I found Aventure to be excellent, delivering three high quality courses for a modest price. North London is not exactly overflowing with good restaurants, so it is all the more surprising to me that Aventure gets so little attention. I would return in a heartbeat. 

Another place I am fond of is The Crown in Burchett’s Green near Maidenhead. Here the chef and owner runs the kitchen single handed, without even a kitchen porter to help him to serve up to 28 guests. We had another excellent meal here, from with dishes such as wild halibut with spiced onions and a genuinely classy rum baba with blackberries and pears grown in the pub garden. The modest pricing is another bonus, especially if you are used to the highway robbery level of gouging that is the norm these days in central London. 

The UK and Ireland 2016 Michelin Guide results were announced. Two stars for The Araki (pretty much as expected) and Umu (not expected). The Fat Duck was temporarily deleted as it was closed most of the year, but there were no other changes at the two or three star level. One star was awarded to Bonhams (well deserved), Lyles, The Portland and The Goring in London, and Maze and Rasoi lost their star.. Outside the capital there were stars awarded to Carters of Mosely (Birmingham), Gravetye Manor (East Grinstead), The Man Behind the Curtain (Leeds), John's House (Loughborough), Woodspeen (Newbury), House of Tides (Newcastle) as well as The Cellar (Anstruther), Elpic (Belfast), OX (Belfast), Loam (Galway) and, at long last, to The Greenhouse in Dublin. The following one star places lost their star: Curlew, Apicius, Sienna, Tassilli, The Old Vicarage, The Stagg Inn, and also The Castle Terrace, Knockinaam Lodge, The Three Chimneys, Thorntons and Bon Appetit.