SCOTLAND'S culinary scene was given a boost yesterday when four more restaurants were awarded coveted Michelin stars.
The nation is celebrating its best ever showing in the Michelin guide after two eateries in the Highlands, one in Fife, and another in Leith secured the award, boosting Scottish entries to 14.
The Albannach, near Lochinver in the west Highlands, Boath House in Nairn, and Sangster's in Elie are all in the guide for the first time.
The Plumed Horse – the third restaurant in Leith to gain a Michelin star after The Kitchin and Restaurant Martin Wishart – had one until two years ago in its previous location just outside Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway, but lost it on relocating to the capital.
Tony Borthwick, the owner, said: "We had a difficult time at first in Leith, which already had two Michelin-starred restaurants. We were three months late opening and had a few bad reviews at the beginning.
"It's great for the whole city that we've got so many stars in Edinburgh now and especially to have such a strong concentration of them in Leith."
However, one Scottish restaurant, at Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire, has dropped out after changing its head chef.
Glasgow suffered another year of disappointment after again failing to secure a single place on the list.
Scotland still has just a single two-star establishment, Andrew Fairlie's celebrated restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel.
But the number of entries in the new Michelin guide has been hailed by tourism leaders as a timely boost to an industry facing concerns about the impact of the economic downturn.
The guide's other good food league, Bib Gourmand, which recognises "good food at moderate prices", features another Edinburgh restaurant, The Dogs, while Creagan House, in Strathyre, has dropped out.
The Michelin Guide, which covers hotels and restaurants, is considered the "Bible" of good eating and the award of a star can guarantee success for a chef.
Restaurants being considered for inclusion can be visited up to a dozen times in secret by inspectors to ensure they offer a consistent level of quality and service.
Lesley Crossfield, who runs the Albannach hotel and restaurant with her partner Colin Craig, said: "We're both absolutely delighted to get a Michelin star and have been on cloud nine since we heard."
Derek Bulmer, editor of the 2009 guide, said the UK's restaurant scene had never been in better shape and said the guide boasted its best-ever geographical spread of Michelin-starred restaurants.
He added: "There is no doubt 2009 will bring challenging times. I'm hopeful the hospitality industry will prove resilient, that customers continue to support their local pub or restaurant and that dining out will remain part of our lives."
Glasgow still hungry for accolade
GLASGOW'S failure to land a Michelin star again this year is a major blow for a city that is widely recognised to have transformed its tourism industry in recent years.
Despite boasting a string of highly rated eateries, the city has not had a single restaurant with a Michelin-star rating since 2003, while arch-rival Edinburgh now boasts four.
Industry leaders in Glasgow insist the city still has a host of high-quality restaurants and that it should not be judged on the Michelin guide alone.
Susie Wilson, general manager of the Ubiquitous Chip, said: "A Michelin star would be wonderful, but they don't seem to think that restaurants North of the Border merit that many.
"I'm very disappointed. I don't think it's essential but I do think the food in Glasgow deserves one."
Seumas MacInnes, Owner of Cafe Gandolfi, said: "We're just as good as the rest of Europe. We shouldn't be too concerned about not having a Michelin star."