Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mancini and Michelin, Manchester's Dream Team

Think back to Manchester in 1975. City were top dogs in the footballing world as United competed in the old second division, relegated a year before by an infamous Denis Law backheel. They were very different times, hard for young fans from both clubs to imagine now. Remarkably, it was also the last time Manchester, the city, had a Michelin Star restaurant. Again, hard to imagine.

Thirty-six years later the wait continues as the new Michelin Guide to Great Britain and Ireland launched for 2012 and revealed Manchester had once again failed to secure a Star.

The historic French restaurant in the Midland Hotel on Peter Street was the last holder of a Michelin Star in the city. They were heady days, as The French was the also the first restaurant in the UK to be awarded a star. The dearth of Michelin mentions for the city ever since has been deafening.

The news doesn’t get any better if the restaurant radar is expanded outside the city centre to include Greater Manchester in 2012. There are still no stars.

The nearest Manchester has to a star are Simon Radley at the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester and Nigel Haworth’s Northcote in Blackburn. To add insult to Manchester’s emotional injury, both are long standing Michelin star holders, in an elite group of just 11 chefs who have held their stars for the past 14 years. Crucially though for the city, they are both more than 30 miles from centre.

For the 7 million people who live in and around the UK's second city the lack of a first class eatery in the city centre continues to surprise and disappoint.

The silver lining to the culinary cloud is that Greater Manchester’s Waggon in Bury and The White Hart Inn in Oldham are included in the Bib Gourmand category 2012, awarded to restaurants considered, “good food at moderate prices” and slightly further afield The Wizard in Alderley Edge is included too.

But another year passes and the city's search for a Star continues. What would be the chances of Manchester City's return to the footballing summit coinciding with the city's return to the guide? Stranger things have happened.

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