Which local joints made it into the Michelin Guide 2014?

You may think it’s outdated in a city with as hip a food scene as London. Yet it’s interesting to see who the grandaddy of eating guides recommends

Listed: the Bull & Last. Photo: Stephen Emms
“Muscular” cooking is praised at the Bull & Last. Photo: Stephen Emms

The Michelin Guide is of course much-mocked for a variety of things: elitism, anachronism and, well, various other isms. Yet, when a copy arrived on our desks this week, a look at which local places had made the grade was, of course, irresistible.

Except it’s not as easy as that. There are so many categories that to find out who simply has a goddamn star is just the start of it.

In a nutshell, the various accolades on offer are: Bib Gourmand (good cooking at moderate prices), and then one, two and three stars respectively. But other places are also listed under “categories of comfort”, with restaurants rated from one to five “forks” (if it’s red it’s “most pleasant”); while an additional icon exists for “pubs serving good food”.

Cripes. The point of all this is, we imagine, that even to be listed in the Guide is an achievement. So, having spent a while deciphering it all, here are five things we discovered:

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1. The only two places in Kentish Town itself? Bull and Last and Chicken Shop. Contrary to perhaps what some of us believed, the former does not have a star or even a Bib Gourmand, but is merely a “pub serving good food”, with “muscular” cooking, charcuterie a speciality”. The latter? One fork in its category (as restaurant): “great fun and good value.”

2. Meanwhile, in Archway, 500 – the acclaimed Italian that we still haven’t reviewed – gets an enviable Bib Gourmand; while the St John’s Tavern gains mention as “a beacon of hope on stubbornly unchanging Junction Road”.

New recommendation: Chicken Shop
New recommendation: Chicken Shop
3. In Camden Town there are a generous two Bib Gourmands awarded, to both Market on Parkway (“satisfying and refreshingly matter of fact”) and Made In Camden (“vibrant, unusual and exciting combinations”), both favourites of this publication (watch out for new reviews of each soon). In addition, the York & Albany bags the “pubs serving good food” category.

4. Poor old Hampstead is stung. Just the Wells gets a basic pub inclusion, dwarved by nearby Belsize Park with XO leading (two forks), and Retsina and the over-rated Tandis receiving one fork each. Primrose Hill sees Odette’s and Michael Nadra grab two forks each, with L’Absinthe one. But no stars or Bib Gourmands in NW3.

5. The real surprise (or perhaps not, in the light of a slew of very fine openings)? King’s Cross St Pancras cleans up. A whopping nine restaurants listed – including Caravan, Shrimpy’s, the Fellow and Gilbert Scott – with Grain Store receiving the Bib Gourmand, despite only opening this summer.

The conclusion to all this? Well, if you’re interested in food it’s simply a useful – though by no means comprehensive – indication of a couple of dozen reliable places to eat around our part of town.

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The Michelin Guide 2014 is priced at £15.99. Buy it from Owl Bookshop, or Daunt Books.

  • Show Comments

  • Randall

    Tandis? Overrated? By who? It’s actually quite good. It certainly doesn’t deserves one of your jibes. But perhaps it’s not run by one of your mates?

    • Kentishtowner

      Calm down, calm down… We’ve been twice in the last few months – both times it’s been only OK. But we’ll be returning to review at some point soon, and hope to be more impressed.