Michelin finally wakes up to The Araki’s three-star performance

Michelin finally woke up and awarded Mitsuhiro Araki’s Mayfair restaurant, The Araki, three stars at a ceremony in London this week, making it the first Japanese restaurant in the UK to hold the rating. The Araki was named London’s Top Gastronomic Experience at Harden’s annual London Restaurant Awards ceremony last year and this “world class” sushi spot has, for a second year, scored the highest food-rating of any restaurant in the UK in our annual survey. So it seems that our reporters have long seen it’s three-star potential, even if the tyre men did not.

Even if you think Michelin is an irrelevance, three stars is still a big deal mainly due to the rarity with which it is bestowed upon UK restaurants. The last time London saw three stars was in 2010 when Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester won the accolade. Before that you have to go back to 2004 when Heston’s Fat Duck got its third star. The Fat Duck, we get. But Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester? As our survey reporters say it’s simply “not in the same league” and how it retains its three-star rating year-after-year is a mystery.

Other new stars awarded this week included Bibendum (now helmed by Claude Bosi) which received two stars, while the tyre men liberally sprinkled a further 16 one star accolades at venues across the UK (full list below). Perhaps the guide editors were feeling a bit nostalgic about Bibendum’s home in Chelsea’s iconic Michelin Building, because the reports we have had this year don’t point towards a two-star performance. Overall it received a 2/5 for food in our survey and many seem to think the more ambitious culinary regime has led to “ridiculous prices”.

Notable new one stars include Jamavar, Leela Palaces’s stunning new Mayfair Indian, which was named London’s Top Newcomer at our annual awards last month; Phil Howard’s Elystan Street, which was shortlisted by us for London’s Top Gastronomic Experience; and La Dame de Pic (City) and Aquavit (St James’s), two newcomers we shortlisted in out Best for Business category at this year’s Harden’s London Restaurant Awards.

It’s good to see A Wong getting the recognition of a star from Michelin. Our reporters say, and we agree, that Andrew Wong’s new-school Chinese in Pimlico provides some of “the most exhilarating food in London”. However there are a couple of omissions that (we feel) continue to rankle. Gauthier Soho lost its star in 2012 and its continued absence from the list is baffling and starkly calls into question the judgement of the tyre men. And while we’re on the subject, why was Chelsea’s Medlar stripped of its star? Perhaps most confusing though is why Michelin continues to ignore Bethnal Green’s Typing Room? As one survey reporter says: “How this place doesn’t have a Michelin star is beyond belief!”

Hackney’s Pidgin was among those restaurants who lost a star this year, perhaps due to the departure of founding chef Elizabeth Allen.

New three Michelin-starred restaurants

The Araki W1

New two Michelin-starred restaurants

Bibendum SW3

New one Michelin-starred restaurants (London)

A Wong SW1

Aquavit SW1

La Dame de Pic EC2

Elystan Street SW3

Jamavar W1

The Square W1

Vineet Bhatia SW3

New one Michelin-starred restaurants (UK)

The Clock House, Surrey

The Coach, Marlow

Coworth Park, Berkshire

The Dining Room at Whatley Manor, Easton Grey

The Latymer at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot

Loch Bay, Isle of Skye

Lympstone Manor, Exmouth

Moor Hall, Aughton

Paco Tapas, Bristol

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