Michael Smith’s Loch Bay restaurant on Skye has been awarded a Michelin star.
It is the only Scottish restaurant to be given a new star in the 2018 Michelin Guide.
Less happily, the restaurant at the Isle of Eriska hotel and Highland Kinloch Lodge on Sleat lost their Michelin stars.
A Michelin star denotes ‘High Quality cooking, worth a stop’.
Loch Bay is located in Stein, an old fishing village on the Waternish peninsula. It was opened by the chef at the start of 2016.
Typical dishes on the menu at Loch Bay include lobster and prawn with apple, sorrel and tattie scone and Highland pigeon and hare with cauliflower, chanterelles and spiced bacon. A three course lunch is £27.50 while dinner starts at £39.50.
Famous for his appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu, the chef’s CV includes stints at Arta in Glasgow, Le Gavroche in London and, perhaps most importantly, The Three Chimneys on Skye.
The Three Chimneys was named by New York Times food critic Franck Bruni as one of his top five destinations in the world.
Michael earned a Michelin star in 2014 as Chef Director of The Three Chimneys.
British cuisine on the world stage
At the launch, Michael Ellis, Managing Director of the Michelin Guide, picked out two big changes in the UK’s dining scene.
He said, ‘In Great Britain and Ireland, the last fifteen years have been the most transformative of any country.
‘There is a move towards more casual dining. People want to eat well. They don’t necessarily want to get dressed up and eat in a fancy atmosphere. One result of this is a growing number of pubs serving very high quality dishes.
‘We have also seen a new generation of British chefs using British ingredients to create a modern British cuisine which has taken its rightful place on the world stage. And it is attracting visitors from all over the world.’
Michelin star dust-ups
The Michelin Guide and its star system is not without its controversies. Many critics question its credibility.
And some chefs wonder how worthwhile it really is.
Last week, Boath House near Nairn asked to be stripped of the Michelin star they had held for the last ten years.
The country house hotel said that the Michelin star created expectations which were ‘at odds with achievable profit margins’.
Boath House owners Don and Wendy Matheson said customers wanted a ‘more informal and relaxed’ experience and that they wanted move the business in a new direction.
Wendy Matheson told the BBC: ‘While we are extremely proud of the Michelin star we gained ten 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 hear time and again from customers is they want an experience that is more informal and relaxed.’
Boath House isn’t the first restaurant to question the Michelin star system and they won’t be the last.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Michelin Guide, earning a star is still at the top of the wish list for most ambitious chefs.
Michelin stars in Scotland
Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles retains his two Michelin stars.
Scotland’s other Michelin-starred restaurants are:
The Cellar, Anstruther
Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond
Number One, Edinburgh
Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
The Kitchin, Edinburgh
The Peat Inn, Fife