Gastro pubs cut bigger slice of Michelin status

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by Max Gosney Pub food has received a major boost after one gastro pub was awarded a Michelin star and 12 other pubs won Bib Gourmands ­ one step...

by Max Gosney

Pub food has received a major boost after one gastro pub was awarded a Michelin star and 12 other pubs won Bib Gourmands ­ one step down from a Michelin Star ­ in the 2005 edition of the revered hotel & restaurant guide.

The Goose at Britwell Salome in Oxfordshire becomes the sixth UK pub to receive the coveted prize, with the trade registering a strong performance against hotel and restaurant rivals.

Pubs scooped 12 of the 27 new Bib Gourmands awarded to eateries offering "good food at moderate prices.

Derek Bulmer, editor of The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2005, said: "We are witnessing top quality chefs moving to the industry and developing restaurant-quality food within an informal ambience."

The rising quality of pub food, which resulted in Michelin releasing its Eating Out in Pubs guide in September 2004, is set to continue, said Bulmer.

He added: "Six pubs have made the step up to a Michelin star and I expect more to follow. I would also expect to see a pub awarded a second Michelin star within five years, as the quality of food continues to improve."

The 12 Bib Gourmand winners are: the Hinds Head at Bray-on-Thames, Berkshire; Coach & Horses, Danehill, East Sussex; Jack in the Green Inn, Exeter, Devon; Green Dragon, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire; Snooty Fox, Lowick, Northam-ptonshire; Anchor and Hope, Southwark, London; Fox and Hounds, Oakham, Leicester-shire; the Mole Inn, Toot Baldon, Oxfordshire; the Bell, Saxmund-ham, Suffolk; the Navy Oak, Witney, Oxfordshire; the Mistley Thorn, Mistley, Essex; and the Sorn Inn, Sorn, East Ayrshire.

The Goose at Britwell Salome joins fellow Michelin-starred pubs, the Greyhound at Stock-bridge, Hampshire; Trouble House at Tetbury, Gloucester-shire; Olive Branch at Clipsham, Leicestershire; Stagg Inn, Titley, Herefordshire; and the Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire.

However, the Village in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and the Durham Ox in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, lost their Bib Gourmands this year.

Chef praises Goose's team for superb effort'

Michael North, head chef at the Goose in Britwell Salome, celebrated his 26th birthday in style after his pub joined a select band to earn a coveted Michelin star. North, who is joint owner at the 50-cover Oxfordshire eatery, expressed his delight after receiving the accolade. "I'm over the moon. It's a fantastic compliment for what we have done at the pub and I've been wandering round in my dressing gown this morning in a state of shock."

North has introduced a modern British menu with an emphasis on simple dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients since buying the pub with the help of a private investor two years ago. Sample fare includes valentine of foie gras with marinated cherries (£8) to start, with mains such as smoked haddock fillet topped with Welsh rarebit, new potatoes and sauce vierge (£17).

A bar menu comprising pub favourites, such as cottage pie and fish and chips is also available as the pub aims to make its appeal as broad as possible according to North. "We are a pub so serve everything from beef burgers to shoulder of lamb. My philosophy is to use the best suppliers to create a wide spectrum of dishes. The accolade provides a significant boost to business and attracts diners from further afield," he said.

North also praised the efforts of his colleagues, 21-year-old sous chef Duncan Welgemoed, 17-year-old junior chef Gary Farrell and pub manager/girlfriend Imogen Young in achieving the Michelin star.

"Everyone has been superb and really deserves to enjoy this. We are a very young team and that youthful energy has carried us through the tough times."

The Goose

Menu: modern British

Covers per week: 200-250

Wet:dry split: 30:70

GP on food: 65%

Weekly turnover on food: £4,500

Average prices: starters £7-£9, mains £14-£18, desserts £7.50, bar snacks £10

Best-selling dishes: Lamb torte, fillet of beef with braised ox-cheek, the Goose burger and Mpumalanga (South African) prawns.

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