A strange day out

November 3, 2011

I’m claiming a world first tonight. The first person ever to visit a two Michelin star restaurant and sit outside finishing off a Gregg’s Steak Bake.

It was probably the most surreal moment of a pretty strange day that had seen me visit dozens of the region’s finest restaurant, delis and cafes – and leave without eating in any of them. I was helping deliver the new edition – indeed Christmas edition –  of Great Food magazine to sales points and some prestige restaurants  who are keen to have a few copies for diners to browse. It was a day done at breakneck speed around Melton, Grantham and Nottingham. It was a great chance to visit venues such as the  the newly-Michelin listed Berkeley Arms in Wymondham  but very frustrating to  just drop and go (I know what I’m having when I do get back there – pork and black pudding terrine with crab apple jelly and toast, followed by roasted guinea fowl with wild mushroom and pearl barley risotto and carmelised poached pear with blackcurrant sorbet.)

A steak bake recently

Eventually then I was parked up in Nottingham dropping off at venues such as World  Service and Harts and time was getting short. It was 6.15pm and I had to be back in Leicester in a hour. I’d not eaten all day, I had  a £20 note and I needed  change for the car park. Well what would you have done? Gregg’s it was. But I had one last drop to make – under the flyover on Lenton Lane at Restaurant Sat Bains.  I felt somehow that I  was sullying the car park by bring in the salty, rather gristly pasty thing, but there you go – we all have to get by as we can.

It was worth rushing back to Leicester  – a tasting of rieslings at the splendid Evington’s.

Svenwatch

January 18, 2011

A quick word in praise of our leader. When Svennis was appointed boss of Leicester City you could be forgiven for thinking he’d spend as little time as possible here, swanning off in his helicopter to  more exotic climes – Monaco, Rome, Stockholm, Market Harborough. To give him his due, he is not only achieving success on the pitch  – I write before tonight’s cup replay in Manchester – but is doing his bit for the local restaurant trade.

Sven backs Leicester restaurants

For some time San Carlo on Granby St used an image of him and old flame Nancy stepping out at one of their branches.  Now he’s a proper local, he is popping up all over the place. The newly-opened Lanna Thai on Rutland Street had him in – I think the city’s Thai community are, understandably, trying to make the most of any clout with the club’s Thai owners – and he was in Bistrot Pierrre at the weekend. In both cases it  sounds like he was a most gracious guest, telling Lanna Thai that the Mercury should have given them five stars and writing excellent all over his feedback card for Bistrot Pierre. 

I’m not suggesting we follow him as food critic – let’s face it, the man is a skilful politician and he’s not going to be rude about them. But I give him every credit for going out and being seen to support local businesses.

Let’s see where else he turns up. If he comes into your restaurant or you spot him in a city or county venue, make a comment to this post. If we get  a few, I’ll make a new post rounding up in a couple of months. I’m particularly interested in hearing should you see him sharing a pizza with David Beckham/Thierry Henry/Lionel Messi.

Oh and while we are here – well done to Hambleton Hall and The Olive Branch for retaining their Michelin stars for 2011, and to the Red Lion at Stathern and Jim’s Yard in Stamford for keeping their Bib Gourmands. No new awards in our region this time, and – despite the increasing  clamour –  no second star for Sat Bains in Nottingham.

Michelin Update

January 15, 2010

Further to the post earlier this week, sources close to this blog have revealed there is no change to the Michelin star status of Sat Bains, Hambleton Hall or The Olive Branch. There are no new stars in the region. Fans of the rarefied end of fine dining may be interested to know that Alain Ducasse has gained a star to become the nation’s fourth three star restuarant.

Update at 17.33 – no new Bib Gourmands for the East Midlands either, though the Red Lion at Strathern keeps its one.

Michelin time again

January 13, 2010

The smart restaurant world industry is getting into its annual flurry of excitement over the imminent arrival of this year’s Michelin Guide. Details are closely guarded this year after previous leaks and will be released, apparantly, next Tuesday at 8am. Not that we’re likely to have anything to get worked up about in Leicestershire. In recent years the Red Lion at Stathern has won a Bib Gourmand, the guide’s designation for good food at moderate prices (up to £28 for a meal before drinks),  and I believe Tom Cockerill had a listing when Entropy had its city centre restaurant, but beyond that I can’t think of  much.

Rutland has two one-starred establishments. Hambleton Hall is unikely to change status I suspect  – more than good enough to keep its star, not fashionable enough to gain a second. The Olive Branch in Clipsham – as an informal pub environment – probably has to work harder than most to retain its star. Fingers  crossed for them because it’s a lovely place.   There’s a considerable industry buzz that Sat Bains in  Nottingham will gain a second star (of which there are currently only 15 in the UK), but then there was last year and he didn’t.

For those of us who enjoy restaurants this is all a bit of fun, even for the majority for whom michelin-starred dining is at best a very rare treat.  And you can argue it’s all irrelevent anyway.  But just imagine if Leicester did have a successful destination-dining venue. Just as gaining a John Lewis made a difference to the economic profile of the city, and stellar cultural projects have raised the game in that field, so a really top restaurant would help redefine our status as a backwater with a few good curry houses.  

Can’t say I can see it happening soon, for many obvious reasons, but one can dream.

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