Restaurant & Food news

Eight Northern Ireland restaurants retain Michelin status

The Muddlers Club, Belfast. Photo credit: Elaine Hill Photography

By Lauren Harte

Eight popular Northern Ireland restaurants have retained their status in the new Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2021.

The three One Michelin Star restaurants, all in Belfast, are Eipic (Howard Street), Ox (Oxford Street) and The Muddlers Club (Cathedral Quarter).

Meanwhile five establishments have also retained their Bib Gourmand status from last year – Balloo House (Killinchy), Noble (Holywood), Wine & Brine (Moira) and Deanes at Queen’s and Home (both Belfast)

Despite most restaurants being closed, or at least heavily restricted, for the majority of the last 12 months, the Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland continued with its annual awards to top restaurants and chefs in an online ceremony on Monday night, hosted by Davina McCall.

The annual event sees the best restaurants in the UK and Ireland recognised for their innovation and excellence.

It had been pushed back from its usual October date to account for the lengthy closures most businesses have faced.

Due to the ongoing pandemic and lockdown, the accolades were handed out in a live-streamed format rather than at its usual lavish event in London.

The first award of the evening – for service – was dished out to Holywood restaurant Noble.

It’s the latest prestigious honour from the Michelin Guide for the restaurant, which opened in 2016 and has gone on to become one of the must visit locations on the Northern Ireland food scene.

Noble is the creation of chef Pearson Morris and manager Saul McConnell who previously worked under the direction of Belfast top chef Michael Deane.

Morris said tonight that the award was recognition for “a real, personable service”.

“We’ve always thought that there are a lot of places out there that do amazing food – to be honest probably better food than us. But for most of our customers, when we see them, we know their name, what they’re going to drink and order before they even order it,” he added.

He also paid to tribute to a former Deane’s colleague who taught him “to always make it feel like it’s somebody walking into your front living room – you’ll take their coat off, offer them a drink and make sure they have everything.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland born chef Clare Smyth, now based in London, was handed her third Michelin star for her venue, Core.

Smyth becomes the second London restaurant to win a third star, having received two Michelin stars just 14 months after opening.

After leaving home – her family’s farm in Bushmills, Co Antrim – aged just 16, she went to culinary college in Portsmouth.

She was soon working in some of the best kitchens in the world for everyone from Alain Ducasse and Heston Blumenthal to the Roux brothers.

But it was her relationship with Gordon Ramsay that transformed her career.

Smyth was head chef at his Chelsea restaurant while still in her 20s, becoming the first woman to hold and retain three Michelin stars.

In May 2018, she catered at the star-studded wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“We work hard every day to be the best that we can and try to be better every day than the last,” she said tonight.

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