Belfast Telegraph

NI's top two restaurants keep Michelin stars for third year... but why are others 'ignored'?

By Kate Buck

Two Northern Ireland restaurants have retained their Michelin stars in the 2018 guide.

Belfast favourites Ox and Deanes Eipic kept their coveted status for the third year running.

The new guide - considered the foremost authority on the world's greatest dining establishments - was launched in London yesterday.

Judges said the awards recognise the very best dining experiences in Britain and Ireland.

Ox, in Oxford Street, was first awarded a Michelin star in 2016's guide.

For Eipic, owned by Michael Deane and based at Howard Street, it is also the third year it has maintained its Michelin star status. His other restaurant, Deanes at Queen's, retained its Bib Gourmand accolade.

The Bib Gourmand is not a Michelin star, but is awarded by inspectors for their favourite restaurants that they think are value for money.

Mr Deane has won 17 stars over the past 21 years.

He said: "It's a true reflection of the dedication to high standards and the dogged hard work of the team at Deanes."

Deanes at Queen's was one of seven Bib Gourmand recipients in Northern Ireland. The others were Fontana and Noble, both in Holywood; Bar+Grill in James Street South and Home in Wellington Place, both Belfast; The Old Schoolhouse Inn in Newtownards, and Wine & Brine in Moira.

Belfast Telegraph food critic Joris Minne said: "The much anticipated publication of the Michelin Guide each year is a moment about which some of us have mixed feelings.

Ox at Oxford Street has retained its Michelin star

"On the one hand it's marvellous for a restaurant to secure a star, on the other it raises questions as to why them and not a specific other? Two other contenders in Northern Ireland should by now have been recognised by Michelin at this level.

"The same goes for the Bib Gourmand award which is probably more pertinent to Belfast and the north than any other.

"This is because we have developed an international foodie reputation based on that mid-priced range of bistros and brasseries which offer high quality ingredients and cooking, classy environments and excellent service but keep it informal, relaxed and comfortable.

"Yet we can only claim seven Bib Gourmands. I am thrilled for Noble entering the Bib Gourmand chart, but it's a very disappointing broader picture as there are at least half-a-dozen others across the north who deserve to be included."

This year's Michelin Guide lists a total of 350 establishments in the Republic and 74 in Northern Ireland. Speaking at its launch, Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland editor Rebecca Burr said: "I'm confident the demand for good food in Ireland, from tourists and locals alike, will see further development of its culinary landscape over the next few years."

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