Tyre company turned gastronomic guide Michelin has announced its new stars for 2023 and three restaurants in the North West have got themselves a shiny new red plaque for the door.
The Michelin star announcements are always a nail biting moment for fans of hen of the woods, lovage and bread made with animal fat. This year’s northern awards were as usual scattered around the great British countryside while the cities were mostly overlooked.
Which northern restaurants won a new Michelin star in 2023?
Acclaimed chef Tim Allen’s first solo venture, Sō-Lō which opening in Aughton, near Ormskirk in late 2021 was awarded its first star. Huddersfield-born Allen is a serial star collector, having been part of the team that won Launceston Place its first star after just six months, The Flitch of Bacon in Essex also won a Michelin star under his watch. Sō-Lō joins the bespangled Moor Hall (which has two for its main restaurant and one for its Barn) in making Aughton an unusually start studded foodie destination for such a tiny village. Allen ripped out the innards of the former Seafood Pub Company venue, gave it a subtle, forest-themed colour palette and started quietly cooking exceptional food. The star is a well deserved addition to Allen’s twinkling portfolio. A six-course tasting menu here is £85 per person.
Heft in High Newton also won a star in its second year. Chef-owner and keen forager Kevin Tickle formerly won a star at the Forest Side and some were surprised when is new venture Heft didn’t pick one up in 2022. His menus are always peppered with a bit of Northern humour, with nods to his producer mates like Stotty and Gotty, but he is dead serious when it comes to great food. If you’ve eaten there in the past 18 months, you’ll probably be in agreement with the inspectors on this one. A “set dinner” here is £99.50 per person.
Finally, The Samling in Cumbria won back a star this year having lost it in 2017. Its kitchen has been presided over by Robby Jenks (formerly of Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park and Whatley Manor) since 2019 and makes great use of the larder of the beautiful countryside around it. The views over the lake are also second to none. Dinner here is £115 per person.
Nothing has changed in food-centric Manchester. Our only Michelin star restaurant, Mana in Ancoats, kept hold of its star but did not grab the second one that some pundits were predicting. Our region full of creative, boundary pushing, highly skilled chefs remains a one star zone, though last week, a well deserved Bib Gourmand – the only new one for Manchester – was awarded to The Sparrows following the news of it being added to the guide earlier this year.
Other Manchester restaurants mentioned in the Michelin guide are 63 Degrees, Adam Reid at The French, Another Hand, Borage, Canto, The Church Inn in Mobberley, El Gato Negro, Erst, Habas, Levanter, Osma, The Perfect Match, Tast, Where The Light Gets In, and The White Hart in Oldham.
We’re surprised that the likes of Climat, Musu and 10 Tib Lane have yet to be given a nod.
Elsewhere in the North, Northcote kept hold of its star for the 27th year. Gilpin Hotel’s flagship restaurant formerly named eponymously after previous Exec Chef Hrishikesh Desai and now re-named SOURCE at Gilpin under a new team guided by Exec Chef Ollie Bridgewater (formerly of The Fat Duck) also held onto its star. L’Enclume remains the only three-star restaurant in the North and Moor Hall the only two-star.
Other one star restaurants in the North include The Black Swan at Oldstead, Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite, Dog and Gun Inn, Skelton, Forest Side, Grasmere, Fraiche, Birkenhead, Hambleton Hall, Hambleton, Hjem, Wall, House of Tides, Newcastle upon Tyne, Old Stamp House, Ambleside, Pentonbridge Inn, Penton, Rogan & Co, Cartmel, Roots, York, Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, Ripon, Sō–Lō, Aughton, Solstice by Kenny Atkinson, Newcastle upon Tyne, Star Inn at Harome, Harome, The Angel, Hetton, The Man Behind The Curtain, Leeds, and White Swan, Fence.
Anyway, this provides a good excuse to get out to the country and visit the newly awarded restaurants in the hills. Congratulations to all those honoured by Michelin this year.