Friday, January 26, 2007

In praise of ... the Michelin Guide

The Guardian, Leader article

The Michelin man can be a tough creature to love. Pumped up with self-importance, he chomps his way across Europe, applying the same pitiless standards to the simplest and the most lavish restaurants alike. Perhaps most aggravatingly of all, he is French. So many people will shrug their shoulders at the news that his inspectors have this week awarded 122 UK restaurants at least one star in their 2007 guide. They should be celebrating. In 1974, when the guide was relaunched after a long hiatus, there were only 25 - and not one merited more than a single star. The continuing need for Michelin's approval sticks in the throat of a nation whose much-improved food now draws on traditions from across the world. While the star ratings get most of the attention, they represent just one in 20 of all Michelin's recommendations. The introduction of the Bib Gourmand, a nod to restaurants that offer a good three-course meal for less than £28, has helped to dispel the fug of gourmet pretension that still clings to the Michelin brand. (Contrary to myth, the food earns the stars, not the china or the toilets.)


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