Belfast Telegraph

Restaurants retain Michelin status

All of Ireland's nine Michelin Star restaurants have retained their prestigious status.

The recommended spots for fine dining are topped by Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, the only two-star establishment in the country.

The long line of others to bag the coveted accolade are Thornton's at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, Chapter One and L'Ecrivain, all in Dublin City, plus the Bon Appetit in Malahide.

Outside of the capital, Kilkenny hosts two Michelin Star restaurants - Campagne in Kilkenny City and the Lady Helen at Mount Juliet Hotel, Thomastown.

Others are the House Restaurant at Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford, and Aniar Restaurant at Lower Dominic Street in Galway City.

Michelin Guide editor Rebecca Burr said the latest edition highlights what she terms "the richness and variety of Ireland's restaurant scene, ranging from country pubs to classic dining rooms".

The Michelin is regarded as the pinnacle of restaurant awards.

Three stars means exceptional cuisine and is worth a special journey; two are for excellent cooking and worth a detour, while one star denotes very good cooking in its category.

No Irish restaurant has ever got three stars.

Twelve restaurants have been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand including one new listing in Dublin.

The honour recognises establishments that offer good food at affordable prices - 40 euro (£31) or less for a three-course meal.

New to the list is Etto on Merrion Row while the others retain their status from earlier years - The Courthouse in Carrickmacross, Deasy's in Clonakilty, Sha-Roe Bistro in Clonegal, Co Carlow, Chart House in Dingle, Downstairs Restaurant in Clontarf, Dublin, Pichet on Trinity Street, Dublin, Pig's Ear on Nassau Street, Dublin, Aldridge Lodge in Duncannon, Fishy Fishy in Kinsale, Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna and La Brasserie in Malahide which is part of the Michelin-starred Bon Appetit establishment.

In Northern Ireland three new listings were among the seven Bib Gourmand awards.

Newcomers are Deanes at Queens, Bar + Grill at James Street South in Belfast and Old Schoolhouse Inn in Lisbane, Newtownards.

Others that retain their Bib Gourmand status are Home and Coppi restaurants, both of which are in Belfast, Oregano in Ballyclare and Fontana in Holywood.

Ms Burr , who personally sampled what Irish restaurants have had to offer over the last year, reserved high praise for Etto in Dublin with head chef Barry Fitzgerald, which was awarded a Bib Gourmand.

"That's indicative of what we are looking for - great modern cooking, really friendly staff, passion running through from the kitchen to the service," she said.

"They've got it sussed. Good food, fresh and great produce, quality service."

The Michelin editor said inspectors pride themselves on selecting restaurants which deliver good flavour, consistency and value for money, and insisted the idea of fine dining being a stuffy, formal experience was outdated and best left in the 80s.

"Every restaurant that is in the guide is important to us because they can't pay to get in," Ms Burr said.

"And the ones that offer the best package in terms of food and service and price they will survive. Diners are pretty savvy these days. They cook better at home and it's not cheap to eat out."

Inspections at the listed Irish restaurants were carried out over the course of several months without prior knowledge and on some occasions after meals were served Michelin introduced themselves to restaurant managers and sought more information.

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