Ahead of the much anticipated annual announcement of the UK’s 2018 Michelin starred restaurants in London on Monday next week, the company has taken to Twitter this morning to announce the winners of their second-tier awards — Bib Gourmands.
“We’ve found so many great London restaurants that merit a #BibGourmand for their cooking and affordability,” they said before the announcements started to trickle in. At the the time of writing, one Thai, one traditional barbecue, two modern British, an Italian, a pub inspired by the American South, an outstanding seafood newcomer and three Indian restaurants have been given the honour.
They include: Ben Chapman’s innovative northern Thai claypot and charcoal barbecue restaurant Kiln; David Carter’s Brit-American barbecue site Smokestak; Merlin Labron-Johnson’s minimalist, modern British Clipstone; Jacob Kenedy’s Southern American-inspired gastropub, Plaquemine Lock; Indian small plate-focused Soho restaurant Kricket; pan-Italian bar in Shoreditch, Popolo; Adam Handling’s The Frog E1 in Shoreditch; Himalayan Madame D; arguably London’s hottest 2017 opening, Westerns Laundry; and Vivek Singh’s Indian “market cooking” restaurant Cinnamon Bazaar.
Bib Gourmands are awarded to restaurants typically more affordable and casual than their Michelin-starred cousins. In Michelin parlance, the restaurants are defined thus: “simple yet skilful cooking and great prices.” It might symbolise an inspectors' favourite establishment, where high-quality ingredients and not extraneous service is met with good value for money. They have, however, in the past been called “consolation prizes” or a restaurant theoretically good enough for a star, but not necessarily, nor sufficiently, on-brand for one.
The list, thus far, could not be a better demonstration of Michelin’s purposeful attempt to attribute the less coveted Bibs to restaurants that exist outside of the formal, expensive and traditionally French template of fine-dining; as apparent is the brand’s unwillingness to not award such restaurants with stars.
Before today’s ten additions, London had 52 restaurants with Bib Gourmands (it has not been announced who, if any, have lost their Bibs), compared to 64 restaurants that have been awarded either one, two or three Michelin stars.
A full list of recipients and news of the new Michelin star announcements on Monday morning, at a live event in London, next week. It is expected that London’s stars will be announced first, followed by the rest of the UK. Michelin, given its ongoing prestige among chefs, is always newsworthy, but — in London at least — this year it is especially so. Philip Howard, who left two-starred The Square to open Elystan Street last year; Monica Galetti, who moved from two-starred Le Gavroche to open Mere in March; Claude Bosi, who closed two-starred Hibiscus to open Bibendum (a restaurant named after the guide’s white mascot) in April; and Clare Smyth who left three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay to open Core by Clare Smyth in August. It would, its fair to say, be uncharacteristic for the guide to overlook them all.
Elsewhere, it will be interesting to monitor whether the guide deems the following restaurants worthy of award: Andrew Wong’s modern Chinese food at A. Wong; Star-hungry Chris Deney at 108 Garage; the ever-changing, but consistently stunning P Franco; and La Dame de Pic London, a Parisian import from Anne-Sophie Pic, the only current French female chef to hold three Michelin stars. And, finally, will The Araki move from two to three stars, and become only the third three-star restaurant in London?
Check back for answers, the full list — (non-)surprises and all — on Monday lunchtime next week.