Michelin 2024 Stars – musings on the Tyre Co gongs

The annual Michelin awards on Monday night sprinkled stars liberally over some – led by the Brett Graham, whose Ledbury achieved a coveted third star in its 19th year – while disappointing others: most pointedy the tyre men’s host for the evening, Manchester’s Midland Hotel, which lost its star back in 1975 and has never regained it.

The choice of Manchester as a venue was in the Rishi Sunak mould of politics. Sunak came here to cancel HS2. Michelin came here in order to tell a city that has long lamented its lack of Michelin stars (Mana broke a 42-year dry run in 2019) that it wasn’t getting any more.

London was the big winner this year, winning 11 of the UK’s 15 new single stars, while Claude Bosi’s Brooklands in the new Peninsula Hotel, which only opened in October, bagged two stars in its first season. Within London, Notting Hill is clearly on a roll, and has now fully overturned its historical reputation as a quality free zone. The Ledbury, Clare Smyth’s fellow three star Core, and new one star Dorian are all within strolling distance of each other. 

Aktar Islam’s Opheem in Birmingham broke new ground with its second star. Aktar was already the first British-born Indian chef to win a Michelin star, and he is now the first Birmingham chef to win two. More salt in the wound for Manchester as Brum continues to outshine it for top-end accolades despite having a much small overall restaurant scene.

Gymkhana in Mayfair also doubled up, making them the UK’s first two Indian restaurants with two stars. 

But while many of the stars are fully deserved, there remain a number of eyebrow-raising entries on the list – and the usual large roll-call of omissions. In the former category, the annual Harden’s survey has long suggested that both Gordon Ramsay’s flagship in Royal Hospital Road and Alain Ducasse’s outpost at the Dorchester have been lucky to retain their three stars. Is their good fortune because their patrons are so famous?

At a two star level, Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal have arguably passed their sell-by dates as two stars too. Oh wait. Their owners are famous too!

Among the fooderati, the biggest slip-up of the night was not awarding two stars to John Williams at The Ritz. Our survey would suggest the biggest omission is failing to award one to Endo at the Rotunda. Michael Caines’s Lympstone Manor, which is consistently overlooked by Michelin for a second star, is another perhaps surprising omission.

Giving two stars to Gymkhana in Mayfair isn’t a crazy idea, although our survey rates another Indian restaurant in Mayfair, Bibi, higher than its JKS stablemate, raising the question of why it has no single star, never mind two.

The Araki was stripped of its three stars when its founder left London a few years back, but continues not even to be listed by Michelin never mind not being awarded even a single star. This looks a little like an obstinate refusal to reverse a position. 

And why no stars for Bouchon Racine, Mayha, Medlar, Myrtle, PLU (RIP – see separate Harden’s news item), The Sea, The Sea, Zuma, Launceston Place… the list goes on? Some of these have been overlooked for so long you forget how surprising their ongoing omission is.

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