… and the Michelin Star Goes To …

Monday saw the launch of the 2018 UK Michelin Guide – streamed live in front of an invited audience. After an interminable build up they finally announced the 16 new stars.

No new stars for Yorkshire, seems their inspectors never get beyond Leicester apart from a star for Moor Hall at Aughton near Ormskirk and Loch Bay on the Isle of Skye. Unusually Michelin announced a third star, (making a total of only five in the UK)  for The Araki, a London sushi restaurant with just nine covers that serves one set menu at £300 per person. Drinks extra!

Happily all the current Yorkshire star holders held on to their badges and remain in the club. Once again congratulations to Skosh and Joro for their Bib Gourmand – recognition by Michelin for a restaurant  (or chef) worth watching.

We wrote way back in 2012 why we believe Michelin to be an outdated and irrelevant award but we understand why it means so much to chefs.  For an interesting article in the London Eater on why Michelin’s matter click here.


Michelin Delivers

Congratulations to Skosh, York and Joro, Sheffield on their Michelin Bib Gourmand announced this morning. So glad we visited and reported some time ago, we’ll never get a table now. Congratulations too to our neighbours the Staith House, North Shields for their Bib Gourmand.

The big one, the Michelin stars, are announced on Monday, 2nd October, live streamed at 11.30am. It’s my guess that York’s Cochon Aveugle will be crossing their fingers. It’s too soon for Horto, though the inspectors appear very keen on the small plates Scandi vibe.

There will be a lot of breath-holding among the current Yorkshire star holders hoping to hold on to their stars, the Star Inn, the Yorke Arms, the Black Swan, the Pipe and Glass, the Man Behind the Curtain and the Box Tree. No pressure guys.


World Class Obsession

If you’ve ever tried to get a table at Michael O’Hare’s Man Behind the Curtain, you will know it’s booked up forever. If you are quick, and prepared to travel out of the county, you might sample his food at a table at the Michelin starred Northcote, near Blackburn.


Man_Behind_CurtainObsession began as a week of events to fill the restaurant in the quiet months, now it is what Nigel Haworth calls ‘a monster event’ where 23 world-class chefs cook for a night over 17 nights and each year the line-up gets more amazing.


For Obsession 17 there’s O’Hare, Michael Wignal from Gidleigh Park, James Close and John Williams, recently Michelin-starred at the Raby Hunt and Ritz respectively. There’s a woman’s chef night with  Claire Clark, Anna Hansen, Isaac McHale from the Clove Club and Atul Kochhar from Benares.


But that’s not all, like us, you may not know leading chefs from Italy, Japan, Australia, Slovenia and China and the USA, but they are some of the world’s best coming to Blackburn to cook. I know it’s crazy.


It is a stunning line-up and pricey of course: £130 per person for champagne and canapés followed by five courses – add wine on top of that.

Obsession runs for 17 days from 20 January to 5th February. The hotline opens 8am on 1st November 033 999 7762.



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).


Michelin Star Struck

Man-Behind-the-CurtainThe Michelin Guide UK 2016 is out, (leaked early I gather,  by an unnamed book shop) and we are delighted to learn that Michael O’Hare of Man Behind the Curtain has won a star after just one year in his idiosyncratic Leeds restaurant.


We like to think we spotted him early when he was putting carrots in plant pots, setting fire to alcohol trails on the pass and serving cocktails with every course at Blind Swine in York. It was new, crazy and bloody amazing. Boar Lane is more sophisticated, grown up and even more amazing.


The champagne must be flowing on Boar Lane. O’Hare has had a stellar week having won the north east strand of Great British Menu and now this. So congratulations to the raven haired chef of the silver boots and silver pinny, we’re thrilled for him and his team.


Other news from Michelin: The Old Vicarage in Sheffield loses its star, Mandy went last year and found a time warp restaurant and some very good food food www.yorkshirepost.co.uk

The remaining five all, retain their stars, so a lot of relieved sighs at The Box Tree, Ilkley; The Star at Harome;  The Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; The Pipe and Glass, South Dalton; The Black Swan at Oldstead.


Bib Gourmands (Michelin speak for a good quality restaurant at a modest price) are retained by Prashad at Drighlington; Le Langhe, York, Vennell’s at Masham and a new addition: The Dunsforth at Lower Dunsforth.


We’re a bit sceptical about the Guide here at Squid, but we won’t bang on. It means a lot to the chef, brings in new punters and serves as a shorthand for a quality restaurant, so Congratulations all.




Who is The Man Behind the Curtain?


Michael O’Hare, the chef with the tattoos and wild blonde hair, who took York by storm serving potatoes in ash, carrots in plant pots and mint juleps in old tin cans found he was out of a job when the owners (not O’Hare, he was just the chef) of the Blind Swine,  faced with a hefty rent rise, closed in January, leaving the heavy metal chef high and dry.

Well, now we can announce his new, go-it-alone venture.  He’s taking Flannels, the delightfully spare and elegant room, above the natty clothes shop in Leeds’ Vicar Lane. It won’t be called Blind Swine either, but … The Man Behind the Curtain. Trust O’H to come up with an esoteric name with seven syllables, which he explained to Daniel Eggleston from York’s One & Other magazine, is a quote from the Wizard of Oz  ‘Pay no heed to the man behind the curtain’ and is a dig at the cult of the celebrity chef. ‘The Man Behind the Curtain sounds like the most pretentious name in the world, but it’s actually the opposite. Who is the man behind the curtain? Is it me the chef? I work within a team, it’s my team that execute the food/the service.’

And the food? ‘I’m getting tired of eating leaves and green oil off earthenware plates,’ O’H told Squidbeak. ‘I’m dropping all Nordic influences completely and pushing forward to something original. I think it’s about time somebody did something new and exciting.’

The MBC plans to open on 9th May with choices at lunchtime and midweek and a multi-course tasting menu served Wednesday to Saturday evening. We can’t wait, though we fear the location has become a bit of a Bermuda Triangle for restaurateurs.  The original Flannels, Anthony Flinn and Leeds City College have all come and gone but we have faith, and the room never fails to impress, high up in the rafters, cool, calm, white and light with views over the city.

O’Hare is taken with it, too. ‘It’s a place with a sense of occasion,’ he says. So much so he’s establishing a dress code. ‘As in no trainers or tee shirts and men to wear a jacket to dinner. I’d like to bring back some old fashioned values’. Blimey, this from the man who on race days in York banned suits and prom dresses from his establishment and scrawled across the window: ‘County Stand race tags do not add inches to your dick, nor do they guarantee entry into this establishment.’ It’s a bit rich, but you know what he means, so when you book a table at The Man Behind the Curtain, take your cue from the chef himself whom I bumped into at an awards ceremony recently flamboyantly sporting a tailcoat and a silver topped cane.





Blind Swine On Tour

Blind Swine breadBlind Swine the York restaurant that we rated the best opening of the year  is closing on lst January.

We’re dismayed, not least because we rate Michael O’Hare’s  bizarre, fun and innovative cooking, the no choice menu and even the cocktails, but all is not lost, Blind Swine are going ‘on tour’. If you want to know what that means then read on, this is from their Facebook page:

‘The Blind Swine will be closing its doors on 1st January 2014. Our lease has ended and Michael and the team are relocating in the new year details of which will be announced soon.

We are unable to take bookings until we have a definite opening date
In the mean time and over January and Febuary in true rock and roll style we will be going “on tour” filling as many dates as we can in Yorkshire and the North East

We are calling the tour SWINESTOCK. The tour will consist of ;

Pop-up nights in and around york

Guest chef nights in other restaurants

Home dinner parties

If you are interested in either coming to see us on tour
or being part of it (venues and home dinner parties)
please email for details.


Thank you everyone for your continued support we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.’

In the meantime, you may just be able to squeeze in a booking. There are no more weekend tables available in December and they are closed Sunday and Monday, so hurry if you want a table before the end of the year. Failing that, have them round to your place too cook for you. It should be a riot.  Tel: 01904 634825


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