The tyre men have today (16 September) announced new entries and deletions for the 2016 Michelin Guide ahead of the book’s release later this month. Perhaps the most surprising award was to Umu, a blingy Mayfair Japanese, which was bumped up to a two star rating. It was first awarded a star in 2005 after its launch in 2004.
Has there been some sudden turnaround in the quality of Umu’s cuisine in the last year? To let the cat out of the bag, in advance of our October publication, not according to our June 2015 survey. Reporters still find the cost “crazy”, and are divided about its underlying merits.
Suspicion, then, hangs heavy that Umu is riding on the coattails of 2015 newcomer, The Araki. With a mind-boggling price tag of about £400 per head, it would have been hard for Michelin to avoid acknowledging Araki in some way. Even if Umu’s price tag is lower, are the two restaurants sufficiently similar that Michelin felt to include one it had to boost the other?
Meanwhile there’s still no star for Sushi Tetsu in Clerkenwell or Dinings in Marylebone for that matter. While Michelin is busy strutting its Japanese cred, perhaps some stars outside of Mayfair might have been appropriate?
As in recent years, Michelin’s editors have tried to prove they’re down with the average diner by starring up trendy-yet-affordable restaurants. In 2015 they recognised Soho’s Barrafina (a phenomenal tapas chain no doubt) while this year they have alighted on Portland, Fitzrovia, and Lyle’s in Shoreditch as new one star restaurants.
Perhaps they should have strayed further from central London, for example to Clapham. The Dairy and The Manor don’t feature here. Nor most surprisingly does Adam Byatt’s Trinity, of which recognition is long overdue. No doubt they will wake up to these fashionably late, next year.
Winners in full:
New one stars:
Dining Room at the Goring
Carters of Moseley
The Man Behind the Curtain
House of Tides
Sienna (this restaurant closed earlier this year and reopened under new ownership in July)
Three Chimneys & the House Over-By