Belfast Telegraph

Michelin snubs restaurants in Northern Ireland

None of our restaurants deemed worthy of coveted culinary star

By Joanne Sweeney

We've been snubbed – that's the verdict to the news that no Northern Ireland restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star.

Although three eateries were given the Bib Gourmand award in the coveted 2015 food guide, the fact that not one of our best restaurants was awarded the higher accolade has left a sour taste in food lovers' mouths here.

The announcement of which restaurants were in or out of the Michelin food guide came yesterday morning and confirmed that Northern Ireland was the only UK home country without a restaurant deemed deserving of a star.

But chefs Will Brown from the Old Schoolhouse in Comber, Chris Fearon from Deane's at Queen's and Carl Johannson from James Street South Bar + Grill in Belfast are delighted with the confirmation that they were the Michelin inspectors' new favourite restaurants for serving great food at affordable prices.

Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne – who vowed on Twitter to eat his underpants if six of his tipped restaurants were not included – believes that the famous Michelin food guide has gone distinctly cool on Northern Ireland restaurants.

He said: "For me the fact that not one of our restaurants was given a star questions the validity of the process and the judging ratings.

"We used to have three Michelin starred restaurants and this helped put Belfast on the international culinary map but since these were lost, Belfast restaurants in particular have just got better and better but that doesn't seem to be reflected in the latest food guide."

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, reported that all nine Michelin star restaurants in the Republic retained their status for the 2015 food guide.

"In my opinion Belfast must have come very close to getting a star and they should have got one," he said.

"I would really be interested in seeing the criteria and finding out what boxes needed to be ticked in order to receive a Michelin star because I know of Belfast restaurants who are serving food second to none."

The news was not well received on social media – food blogger and hospitality consultant Kenneth Sharp tweeted his disgust and said: "Seriously it's a snub" while Joe Warwick asked on Twitter "Does Michelin ever spend more than an afternoon in Northern Ireland?"

Will Brown at 27 is the youngest chef in Northern Ireland to have won the Bib Gourmand for his work at the Old Schoolhouse, Comber. "I see this as an encouragement that I'm on the right path," he said.

For Swedish-born Carl Johannson (36) of the Bar + Grill at James Street South, the award is the highlight of his career.

Background

Northern Ireland used to have three Michelin restaurants awarded with a single star – Roscoffs and Deanes in Belfast, and Shanks in Bangor. Now seven restaurants hold the Bib Gourmand award, with five retaining them from last year's guide – Home and Coppi restaurants, both in Belfast, Oregano in Ballyclare and Fontana in Holywood.

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