Restau­rant ‘can’t af­ford’ to hold star

Food: Miche­lin award leads to losses

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - NEWS - BY ALIS­TAIR MUNRO

A five-star coun­try house ho­tel in the High­lands has turned its back on the glob­ally-recog­nised Miche­lin Guide.

The own­ers of Boath House, which lies off the A96 at Auldearn, near Nairn, believe the ex­pec­ta­tions from Miche­lin are now “at odds” with the way they run the small fam­ily business.

Hus­band and wife team Don and Wendy Math­e­son said cus­tomers wanted a “more in­for­mal and re­laxed” ex­pe­ri­ence.

The move comes a week af­ter French chef Se­bas­tian Bras asked for his three­star restau­rant Le Su­quet to be dropped from the guide in or­der to “start a new chap­ter”.

Mr and Mrs Math­e­son said they too wanted to ‘reeval­u­ate’ their re­la­tion­ship with the Miche­lin Guide, de­cid­ing to “move in a new di­rec­tion”.

The Ge­or­gian man­sion boasts four AA rosettes and one Miche­lin star, but the fam­ily is over­haul­ing the brand to re­flect what they believe cus­tomers want.

The de­ci­sion comes ahead of the 2018 Miche­lin Guide be­ing an­nounced next week.

Mrs Math­e­son said: “While we are ex­tremely proud of the Miche­lin star we gained 10 years ago, and it un­doubt­edly en­hanced our rep­u­ta­tion, our restau­rant has con­sis­tently made a loss.

“We believe the ex­pec­ta­tions from Miche­lin are at odds with achiev­able profit mar­gins and put an enor­mous stress on a small fam­ily-run business like ours.

“The feed­back we are hear­ing time and time again from our cus­tomers is that they want an ex­pe­ri­ence that is more in­for­mal and re­laxed.”

The own­ers will open a cafe in their walled gar­den next year, with the aim to be ca­sual and rus­tic. It will com­ple­ment the din­ing room in the main house which has re­cently changed to of­fer more ap­proach­able and less ex­pen­sive op­tions.

Mrs Math­e­son added: “The aim is to pro­vide a warm, com­fort­able touch of con­tem­po­rary lux­ury com­bined with homely charm.

“We are con­fi­dent that this is where the ac­com­mo­da­tion and din­ing mar­ket is go­ing and that we will have a more sus­tain­able prod­uct.”

Re­becca Burr, ed­i­tor of the Miche­lin Guide, said: “It’s ob­vi­ously up to in­di­vid­ual restau­rants how they want to run their busi­nesses, and there is ab­so­lutely no for­mula for win­ning or re­tain­ing a Miche­lin star.

“There has cer­tainly been a trend to­wards more in­for­mal din­ing over the past 10 years or so, and in fact Miche­lin has been at the ab­so­lute fore­front of recog­nis­ing and cel­e­brat­ing that.”

NO BONES: Din­ers want ‘less for­mal’ food from head chef Char­lie Lockey’s kitchen

Boath House is over­haul­ing its brand­ing

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