Edi­tor’s com­ment

Cotswold Life - - NEWS - mike.lowe@archant.co.uk Fol­low Mike on Twit­ter: @cot­slifeed­i­tor

THIS month we con­sider one of the great ques­tions of our time – what is the point of Miche­lin stars? I sup­pose that once upon a time, such recog­ni­tion was a re­li­able in­di­ca­tor of qual­ity, but these days there are so many guide books and restau­rant awards – not to men­tion the dreaded Tripad­vi­sor – that you can find out ev­ery­thing from the ori­gin of the cut­lery to the chef’s in­side leg mea­sure­ment be­fore even go­ing near the es­tab­lish­ment in ques­tion. I ask be­cause there has been some small gnash­ing of teeth in the Cotswolds as a hand­ful of our bet­ter es­tab­lish­ments have had their Miche­lin ap­proval re­moved this time around. But does it re­ally mat­ter? We al­ready know that these are great places to eat so why are we so in thrall to the opin­ions of a French tyre man­u­fac­turer? (We must ex­clude from any of the fol­low­ing com­ments our very own Le Champignon Sau­vage, where chef/owner David Everitt-matthias has been get­ting the bal­ance of fine food and for­mal­ity just right for decades.) Eat­ing a meal in a Miche­lin-starred restau­rant is not al­ways the pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence you might think. Such is the weight of ex­pec­ta­tion that many din­ers are re­duced to strange be­hav­iour. On one side of you will be a cou­ple of earnest food­ies, quizzing the poor waiter over which side of the val­ley the wal­nuts on the salad were grown. They will then de­scend into a si­lence of in­tense con­cen­tra­tion, the only sound be­ing the clink of cut­lery and the rus­tle of card­s­tiff ta­ble linen as they sur­ren­der their taste buds to the holy min­is­tra­tions of the chefs. On the other side will be that mod­ern-day curse, the food blog­gers, click­ing and flash­ing as they pho­to­graph ev­ery as­pect of the dish on their phones be­fore bung­ing it up on In­sta­gram – by which time the food is cold and the maître d’ is clench­ing his frus­trated fists and con­tem­plat­ing blog­ger­cide. And in be­tween flits the pom­padured som­me­lier who sneered at you for or­der­ing the sec­ond cheap­est bot­tle on the eye-wa­ter­ing wine list and gets his re­venge by stick­ing your plonk in an ice bucket at the other end of the room. Listen pal, I’ll de­cide when to top my glass up, not you. Now get that bot­tle on the ta­ble, pronto. This stereo­typ­i­cal Miche­lin­starred ex­pe­ri­ence is a long evening of smarmy ser­vice, over-elab­o­rate cook­ing, daft prices and ‘per­son­al­ity’ chefs. And do we re­ally need to have our peas peeled or our lamb shred­ded, ris­soled, fag­got­ted, puréed and smeared? To be fair (and I don’t know why I bother), the French tyre com­pany has tried to move away from this char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion by be­com­ing more di­verse. Un­for­tu­nately the ridicu­lous re­sult can be seen in last month’s award of three stars – as good as it gets – to a Lon­don restau­rant called Araki which has only nine seats. I’ll re­peat that: it has only nine seats, which amounts to a star for ev­ery three cus­tomers. You will never be able to eat there be­cause it will now be fully booked un­til the day the poor chef ex­pires and so the whole ex­er­cise is com­pletely point­less. I sus­pect they’re just tak­ing le pee now.

TIME for the an­nual rant about fire­work abuse. This year Novem­ber 5th falls on a Sun­day. We can there­fore ex­pect a week­end’s worth of whizz-bangs over three nights. For those of us with dogs of a ner­vous dis­po­si­tion, this is not only suf­fi­cient but also too much.

How­ever, as a magazine which de­fends the rights of peo­ple to do what they want as long as they don’t harm oth­ers, it’s some­thing we have to put up with. But let me tell you, the amuse­ment value in watch­ing a shiv­er­ing whip­pet dressed in an Eric Can­tona T-shirt wears pretty thin by the Third Night.

Miche­lin Man: Now let us drink!

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