When the Guide Michelin was launched at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris as a free travel guide, its focus was upon places to stay when travelling in the relatively new and glamorous motorcar. Recommendations for hotels and restaurants gradually crept in. The Guide introduced its system of stars in 1923, and by 1934 it had completely changed: it was no longer free, and was entirely devoted to good food. Its detractors would say that the Michelin Guide is outrageously francocentric. They claim that, because of its slavish devotion to consistency, it stifles creativity and that it can drive chefs to suicide if they lose one of its stars. Admirers say that it recognises excellence and is the culinary lodestar of international travellers. Careers are made by the awarding of the coveted accolades of the Michelin Guide, and each year the new Guide is eagerly anticipated. Only four restaurants in the UK can boast three Michelin stars; only two of those, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, are in London. Waiting lists are long, so if you want to eat Michelin star food, you may prefer to try one of London’s eleven Michelin two star restaurants. French cuisine does feature heavily in the guide, but some of the latest to acquire the coveted second star are simply very good food from other genres, including two Japanese restaurants.
- Umu Japanese cuisine from £25 – £151
A stylish restaurant with a central sushi bar. Choose from the wide range of dishes, many of which are seasonal. Also offers a huge number of different sakes.
14-16 Bruton Place Mayfair W1J 6LX
Tel: 0207 499 8881
2. Hélène Darroze at The Connaught Modern cuisine from £30 – £92
A visually beautiful restaurant where diners choose from a number of seasonal, carefully sourced ingredients and wait to see how the chef transforms them into a series of impeccably presented dishes.
Carlos Place Mayfair W1K 2AL
Tel: 0207 107 8880
3. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal British modern cuisine from £38 – £111
This is not molecular gastronomy. It is a modern twist on historic British food, from medieval Sambocade to Elizabethan duck breast with umbles. Blumenthal renews and revives a selection of British dishes, with just a touch of playfulness.
66 Knightsbridge Hyde Park SW1X 7LA
Tel: 0207 201 3833
4. The Square French cuisine from £38 – £120
Chef Phil Howard has a reputation for beautifully presented, classically flavoured menus. A smart but relaxed restaurant, which offers some elegant and flavoursome vegetarian options.
6-10 Bruton St Mayfair W1J 6PU
Tel: 0207 495 7100
5. Greenhouse Creative cuisine from £40 – £120
This tastefully decorated, calm oasis in the middle of Mayfair is the perfect foil for Chef Arnaud Bignon’s classic French dishes.
27a Hay’s Mews Mayfair W1J 5NY
Tel: 0207 499 3331
6. Sketch (The Lecture Room & Library) French cuisine from £40 – £129
An extraordinary sumptuous, red and orange, elegantly eclectic décor is the perfect setting for sophisticated, complex and varied dishes. Master chef Pierre Gagnaire creates elaborate masterpieces of texture and flavour.
9 Conduit St First Floor Mayfair W1S 2XG
Tel: 0207 659 4500
7. Marcus Modern cuisine from £49 – £85
Buttoned leather chair backs and wood panelling mix with clean modern lines in Marcus Wareing’s flagship restaurant. The menu is varied and flexible, and the dishes are understated but beautifully created and with great flavours.
Wilton Place Belgravia SW1X 7RL
Tel: 0207 235 1200
8. Ledbury Modern cuisine from £50 – £85
Multi-award winning Australian chef Brett Graham, winner of Young Chef of the Year 2002, produces smart but unpretentious dishes from quality produce.
127 Ledbury Rd North Kensington W11 2AQ
Tel: 0207 792 9090
9. Hibiscus Creative cuisine from £50 – £90
Classically trained Chef Patron Claude Bosi uses seasonal ingredients, mostly sourced from within the British Isles to produce elegantly timeless dishes.
29 Maddox St Mayfair W1S 2PA
Tel: 0207 629 2999
10. Le Gavroche French cuisine from £55 – £164
Michel Roux’s restaurant has the feel of a gentleman’s club. Rich, classical French cuisine is served in a charmingly formal setting.
43 Upper Brook St Mayfair W1K 7QR
Tel: 0207 408 0881
11. Araki Japanese cuisine £300 fixed menu
Mitsuhiro Araki, Japanese sushi master, prepares and serves authentic Edomae sushi to his guests in the traditional sado tea ceremony manner. Because of the style of the meal, there is a set menu, and the restaurant is not able to accommodate special dietary requirements. Mr Araki serves up to nine diners at each meal, which is a pricey but unique experience featuring top quality ingredients.
12 New Burlington St Mayfair W1S 3BF
Tel: 0207 287 2481
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