Michelin Drops the famous Box Tree

The surprise news when the 2019 Michelin stars were announced a couple of weeks ago was that the Box Tree in Ilkley had lost its star. We’ve written before about Michelin’s curious star system and how we are often baffled by those honoured and those serving comparable food that miss out year after year.  I’m thinking Skosh and Cochon Aveugle in York, Home in Leeds and the Hare at Scawton.

Simon and Rena Gueller with friend Marco Pierre White

It’s been a while since I visited the Box Tree so can’t comment whether the demotion by Michelin was justified but I would only say that in the new 2019 Good Food Guide, (IMHO a much more accurate and readable judge of British restaurant food), the Box Tree scored an estimable 6  which translates as ‘exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement’.

We have long been supporters of Simon and Rena Gueller from their early days in a little bistro in Harrogate then Leeds and later bringing much needed order out of the chaos that was the Box Tree in the late 90’s. I’m also ever grateful that they came to our house just days after Christmas when everyone else was closed, to cook a fabulous spread for our wedding.

If you care about these things and, of course, for chefs it is the ultimate accolade, and want to tick off the Michelin stars in Yorkshire and nearby here is the list of M. starred restaurants:

The Star Inn at Harome; The Man Behind the Curtain, Leeds; The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton;  The Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; The Black Swan at Oldstead.

Among our near neighbours a star was awarded to Winteringham Fields, a second star for Moor Hall at Ormskirk and for the Raby Hunt near Darlington, a star for Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume outpost Rogan & Co in Cartmel and a new star for the White Swan at Fence.

There you have it. No more nail biting till next October.

Good Food Guide

9780953798339There’s been a lot of excitement about the Man Behind the Curtain getting a Michelin star and deservedly so. We’ve championed Michael O’Hare since his early days in York. Now everyone wants to go and you won’t get a table on Saturday night until 2016! You can see why it’s so important to chefs.


The Good Food Guide doesn’t attract half so much attention, but for good places to eat, it’s streets ahead. I don’t think I’ve ever bought a Michelin Guide which is made up of signs and symbols, but my collection of the GFG goes back to the 1980s and it’s always a good read: honest, independent, sparky, opinionated.


Last year, Waitrose bought the  GFG from the Consumer Association. but the guide looks much the same and thankfully continues to take no advertising nor paid-for entries.


It’s wide ranging covering local gems like Zucco in Meanwood and top restaurants such as Man Behind the Curtain. We like it too because as well as professional inspectors, it holds a great deal of store by readers’ comments, so if you eat somewhere that deserves comment or criticism it’s important to let them know. They will act upon it.


Yorkshire is well represented with 67 entries. New this year:


Harrogate: Norse, La Feria, and Stuzzi

Helmsley: The Vine House Café

Hull: 1884 Dock Street

Leeds: The Man Behind the Curtain, Zucco,

Lower Dunsforth: The Dunsforth

Middleton Tyas: The Coach House

Sheffield: Lokanta

Todmorden: Blackbird

Wetherby: Mango

Withernwick: the Falcon

York: Cochon Aveugle

You can buy the Guide from bookshops and from Waitrose. But of course you can check ’em out on Squidbeak, we’ve got most of these covered (and more).


Good Food Guide’s Top Pubs

Pipe and GlassOnly one Yorkshire restaurant has made into the ‘Top 50’, in the new 2015 Waitrose Good Food Guide out on Monday and that’s the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. Our congratulations to Frances Atkins.

Today, the guide listed for the first time their ‘Top 50’ pubs. Number one is not in Yorkshire, but the Freemason’s Arms is not far away,  just over the border in Wiswell, Lancashire. Second is the Hand and Flowers in Bucks and third is the Red Lion at East Chisenbury, Wiltshire. Yorkshire did OK though with five pubs on the list. Yorkshire and nearby counties are rated as follows:

6          The Pipe and Glass at South Dalton [picture]

14       The Star Inn at Harome

20       The Broad Chare, Newcastle

31       The White Hart, Lydgate, Oldham

32       The General Tarleton, Knaresborough

36       The Bay Horse, Hurworth on Tees

41       The Star at Sancton

42      The Black Swan at Oldstead


Vote for your favourite Yorkshire restaurant

Box Tree RestaurantEach year the Good Food Guide invites readers to nominate their favourite restaurant for the Reader’s Restaurant Award. They first make an award to each region and then an  award  to the overall winner.

There is still time to vote, but we can reveal that at the halfway point, the leading restaurants in the whole of the north east are all from Yorkshire. They are: the Box Tree, Ilkley, Eric’s of Lindley, Melton’s, York and the Spiced Pear, Holmfirth.

We think any of these – indeed, any from our Top Ten – would make a worthy winner. Take a look at our reviews and see if you agree.

Last year the GFG was bought by Waitrose so we wait to see what changes that may herald but for now the GFG is our guide of choice, the best and most independent of all the food guides, (except for Squidbeak of course).

To vote got to www.thegoodfoodguide.co.uk



RIP The Gastropub

Our favourite gastropub: The Blue Lion

So, the new The Good Food Guide 2012 has solemnly banned the use of the word gastropub. This led to a lively debate this morning on Radio 4’s Today programme between David Eyre, co-founder of the Eagle in Clerkenwell, often cited as the original ‘gastropub’, and Allegra McEvedy, food writer on the Guardian. Eyre reckoned the word sounded like a disease and said a pub should just be called a pub. McEvedy said the dreaded word was a useful signal to distinguish it from most pubs that still serve awful food. With all due respect to the GFG,  Squidbeak begs to dissent from the ban and will continue, carefully, to use it.

Our understanding is that it signifies a pub that, while still welcoming customers who want to drink without having a meal, generally serves robust modern British food, perhaps with international touches. It cuts out the formalities of reservations, uniformed staff, tablecloths, wine waiters and amuse gueules and doesn’t expect the punter to dress up as if going to the opera or church. Nor does it have sausages and beans and lasagne congealing under heated lamps; that is just a boozer with ‘crappy food’, a phrase for which  McEvedy was called out for bad language in the debate. If it serves food with more palaver then it becomes a dining pub, and if you can’t get a drink without food then it’s just a restaurant that happens to be in the shell of a former pub.

Gastropub may be an ugly word; it may have misleading overtones of gourmet gastronomy; it may be a bandwagon and certainly there are plenty of identikit gastropubs that fall short of the best standards, but it is still a helpful indicator of the broad aspirations of the place. We know what it means. And besides, the best gastropubs have hugely broadened the landscape of eating out in Britain. Until a better word comes along, it will stay in our lexicon.

Squidbeak Blog

© Copyright SquidBeak 2012 Contact usDisclaimerPrivacy PolicyMaraid Design