Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Village with Second Helping of Michelin Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Village with Second Helping of Michelin Success

Article excerpt


WHERE is the best place in the world to eat? Paris? A rather old-fashioned approach to haute cuisine. New York?

Good in parts but not up there with the finest Europe has to offer.

So it has to be London, doesn't it?

Culinary capital of the world, finest chefs alive today, more restaurants than you can shake a stick at?

No - it is Bray. This village in the Berkshire commuter belt (population: 8,000) has just achieved the extraordinary feat of having not one but two restaurants boasting three Michelin stars. To put that into context, there is only one other place in the whole of the country with three stars, and that is Gordon Ramsay's eponymous restaurant in London.

Michel Roux's Waterside Inn is the elder statesman. It has been around for three decades and now shares its three Michelin stars status with the Fat Duck, which only opened in the village High Street in 1995.

The reason why one small Berkshire village is so well-endowed with topranking restaurants boils down to one thing: money. Bray is the sort of place that has one car showroom selling BMWs and Rolls-Royces - and another selling Bentleys. Michael Parkinson lives round the corner - as do Rolf Harris, Ulrika Jonsson and Carol Vorderman.

The guide says Roux's "Thames-side idyll still delights: opulent dining room, drinks in the summer houses, exquisite French cuisine and matchless service".

As for the Fat Duck, it says: "History and science combine in an innovative alchemy of contrasting flavours and textures-Relaxing milieu, confident service."The Waterside Inn is as French as it is possible to get - while the Fat Duck (chef-proprietor, Heston Blumenthal) was described by the Good Food Guide as serving "sensual food" that "like early Picasso ... breaks moulds and crosses boundaries".

Blumenthal, 37, who is self-taught, says his first name comes from his parents' love of Heston motorway services near Heathrow. The former bailiff serves only 280 covers a week. He won his first star in 1999. No one else has earned the other two in just three years.

Meanwhile, three London restaurants have got their first star - the Menu and Grill run by Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, Marcus Wareing's Petrus at the Berkeley, and Tom Aikens' Chelsea establishment. …

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