Just days ago the owners of a Michelin-starred hotel in the Highlands said the stress and expense of maintaining the prestigious food guide’s exacting standards was not worth the effort and they were reverting to informal dining, even if it meant losing their star.
But today Don Matheson, owner of the Boath House in Nairn, admitted to feeling “relief” when the latest edition of the eagerly-awaited 2018 Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland revealed it had retained their coveted star, first awarded ten years ago.
“The results were published around 12 noon on the internet. The chefs in the kitchen are always very keen to find us on the list and let us know about the star.
“It was a relief. For a chef to lose that is a terrible blow. Charlie Lockley, our head chef for the best part of 20 years is leaving and we’re happy he’ll leave with a star. ” said Mr Matheson who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Wendy.
Mr Matheson added: “We changed our menus three months ago to make things less formal. We needed to follow the trend as the whole industry is changing. We do get a large number of single diners on the foodie trail who know their stuff. One of them might have been from the Michelin Guide and it could be that they liked us.”
The restaurant is among a dozen restaurants in Scotland awarded stars for offering diners the best dining experience.
Top billing in Scotland goes once again to Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, whose restaurant in Auchterarder retained its two-star billing – the only establishment in Scotland honoured in this way.
Chef Michael Smith, who opened the Loch Bay Restaurant in Stein, on the Waternish Peninsula in Skye in 2016, sees his new enterprise join the list of 11 restaurants in Scotland awarded one star.
Smith, who was chef director at the island’s Three Chimneys when it earned its Michelin Star in 2015, offers “contemporary Scottish with classic French influences” at his restaurant based in a converted croft house.
The Loch Bay said on its website that its team were delighted by its mention in the new Michelin Guide.
Four of the restaurants retaining their one-star status are based in Edinburgh – these are Number One at the Balmoral Hotel, 21212, Kitchen and Martin Wishart, the latter two both in Leith.
Wishart has also kept his star for Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond.
The others on the list are Braidwoods in Dalry, North Ayrshire, Albannach in Lochinver in the Highlands, the Peat Inn in Fife and the Cellar in Anstruther.
Two restaurants have fallen off the list – Kinloch Lodge on Sleat on Skye and the Isle of Eriska restaurant in Argyll and Bute.
Commenting on the 2018 Michelin Guide winners, Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “We would like to congratulate each and every one of the Scottish restaurants that have been included in the prestigious Michelin Guide for 2018.
“To attain – or retain – these accolades is a tremendous achievement and helps to further cement Scotland’s status as a world-class culinary destination.”
Elsewhere, the Akari, in London, a £300-per-person sushi restaurant with just nine seats, gained three stars, joining four other UK restaurants in the top tier.