Slim haul of Michelin stars for Britain

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Michelin awarded new stars to 14 restaurants in Britain - a slim haul for a country whose food scene is developing so rapidly.

The total of 167 stars is paltry and just four establishments have the top ranking.

The London winners are Gymkhana Indian restaurant in Mayfair; Kitchen Table, a Fitzrovia venue backed by Gymkhana chef Karam Sethi; Barrafina tapas bar in Soho; chef Jason Atherton's Social Eating House; Fera, which replaced Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's; and chef Isaac McHale's Clove Club in Shoreditch.

There were no new two- or three-star establishments included in last Thursday's announcement.

Ms Rebecca Burr, who edits the Britain and Ireland guide, said she and her inspectors are watching a few chefs closely and some came close to promotion this year.

"It's not the names that people would expect," she said. "There's a younger generation of chefs that could go past some of the more established chefs."

She praised McHale, a chef who emerged from a group of friends called the Young Turks to open Clove Club.

This edgy restaurant lacks tablecloths and formality. McHale serves stripped-down dishes that owe more to contemporary European cooking than to traditional gastronomy.

"Clove Club has set the bar for modern dining," Ms Burr said. "McHale is of our generation and his restaurant is proof of the fact that informality doesn't mean a lack of knowledge."

The winners outside London included two restaurants in Scotland - Isle of Eriska in Eriska; and Three Chimneys & the House Over-By on the Isle of Skye - and two in Wales: Ynyshir Hall in Machynlleth and the Crown at Whitebrook, in Monmouth.

The others that gained a star were Star Inn, Harome; Cross at Kenilworth; Outlaw's Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac; and Treby Arms in Sparkwell.

Nobu and Nobu Berkeley Street in London both lost their stars.

Many people had expected awards for Manchester, a city that has been without stars since 1974.

Chef Simon Rogan, who gained a star for Fera in London, was snubbed at the French in Manchester. Aiden Byrne at Manchester House also missed out. The chefs were the subject of a television series, Restaurant Wars.

Michelin awarded the Bib Gourmand for affordable quality to 26 more restaurants, including nine in London: Indian Essence (Bromley); Barnyard (Bloomsbury); Rotorino (Dalston); Roots at N1 (Barnsbury); Yipin China (Islington); Bibo (Putney); Earl Spencer (Southfields); Polpetto (Soho); and Palomar (Soho). The award recognises venues that serve good food at no more than £28 (S$58) for three courses.

There are four three-star restaurants, 21 with two stars and 142 with one. The three stars go to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, the Fat Duck, Gordon Ramsay and the Waterside Inn.

Three stars mean exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey; two are for excellent cooking, worth a detour; one denotes a very good restaurant in its category.

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