Stephen Jardine: Starry-eyed over Michelin cuisine

Stephen Jardine - food for thought. Picture: Jane Barlow
Stephen Jardine - food for thought. Picture: Jane Barlow
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I’d love to take a look inside Michelin HQ. I have this image of a French factory staffed by burly tyre inflators who spend their spare time eating well and then halt production once a year to print a small red book full of top restaurants.

Whatever the process, it is that time again. With a rumble louder than John Prescott’s belly in a long lunch queue, the food gods roared and the restaurant world quivered.

The awards were a bit of a mixed grill for Scotland with two restaurants joining the Michelin club while two others had their stars deleted.

The two celebrating this weekend are The Three Chimneys on Skye and the Isle of Eriska hotel, adding to the list of rural Scottish restaurants who, despite their location, are still able to thrill when the inspectors call.

Elsewhere, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles retained its two Michelin stars, just in time for this weekend’s Ryder Cup extravaganza.

And it was no change in the capital where five Edinburgh restaurants kept their Michelin status. Holding onto a star is every bit as hard as getting one so the significance of that achievement should never be underestimated.

With 15 restaurants across Scotland home to a star there is much to celebrate but still one glaring omission.

Why does Glasgow keep missing out? It’s a question that gets asked every year but needs to be constantly re-addressed because the answer matters.

Other guide books may come and go but, unfortunately for Glasgow, the Michelin star remains the world standard for judging cooking at the very highest standard.

And that’s the clue here. Glasgow has great mid-market restaurants serving outstanding food. Two of the best exponents, The Gannet and Ox and Finch, both picked up Bib Gourmands from Michelin this week, recognising good food at reasonable prices.

I ate in one of them on Tuesday and the food and service were outstanding plus it was packed with happy customers.

Glasgow does casual mid-market dining better than anywhere else but the problem is that is not what Michelin is about.

The guide awards a single star to a restaurant for “very good cooking in its category”. In reality chefs know a certain standard of seriousness is required to achieve an award.

Glasgow will get there but it will take a trail blazer brave enough to abandon the successful middle ground and enter unknown territory. Then others will follow.

Given how hard it is perhaps the most amazing thing is not Glasgow failing to have a star but the fact that Edinburgh has five, the same as the whole of Wales combined.

Outside London there remains in Britain simply nowhere better to eat than Edinburgh.