Michelin demoted some 20 restaurants in this year's guide, with not only permanently closed businesses losing out.
Six restaurants which are currently operational lost stars in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2021, including Umu and Aquavit in London and the Flitch of Bacon (pictured) in Essex.
A further 16 restaurants were unsurprisingly deleted because of closures following a tumultuous year for the hospitality industry.
Umu in Mayfair was demoted from two Michelin stars to one, while the two-star Greenhouse in Mayfair and the Ledbury in North Kensington lost their stars due to closure. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Port Isaac, which previously held two-stars, reopened as the more accessible Outlaws New Road in summer 2020 and won a star in the 2021 guide.
Among the one-star deletions was Aquavit in St James's and Jason Atherton's Social Eating House in Soho. Outside London, the Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury, the Flitch of Bacon in Little Dunmow and the Black Rat in Winchester also lost their one-star accolades.
The industry was unsure whether Michelin would delete any stars this year, due to the stress placed on restaurants due to Covid-19 restrictions.
When The Caterer spoke to restaurant critic Andy Hayler prior to the event, he predicted the guide would "be kind" to restaurants who have had "to rush regular service, close down, offer takeaway, open back up again, and deal with staff leaving and sickness."
He said: "I'm guessing Michelin will not demote many places and it shouldn't do, as it's been a very challenging time for restaurants and you would expect a few consistency issues. Michelin doesn't typically demote – it's slow to give stars, but it's also slow to take them away. Many restaurants that have been deleted over the years have just closed. It does happen of course, but they're few and far between."
The big winners of the event this year were Hélène Darroze at the Connaught and Core by Clare Smyth in London, who were both awarded three Michelin stars as part of a virtual ceremony. Two stars were also handed out to three London restaurants: A Wong, Da Terra and Restaurant Story.
The awards follow an unprecedented year which has seen restaurants across the UK forced to close multiple times due to Covid restrictions. The annual star announcement was set for a "rock star" makeover in 2020, with 500 members of the public able to attend the event for the first time, joining 400 invited chefs and industry VIPs for a two-day event at the Camden Roundhouse in London. However, these plans were put on ice and the publication of the guide delayed due to coronavirus restrictions. It will also be the first time the guide is only published digitally.
Michelin claimed it started work on the 2021 guide in August 2019, meaning many of its inspections had been completed by the time restaurants were forced to close in lockdowns in March.
Michelin deletions in full:
- The Greenhouse, Mayfair, London (closed)
- Umu, Mayfair, London (demoted to one star)
- Ledbury, North Kensington, London (closed)
- Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac, Cornwall (closed, reopened as Outlaws New Road, awarded one star)
- Alyn Williams at the Westbury, Mayfair, London (closed)
- The Square, Mayfair, London (closed)
- Roganic, Regent's Park and Marylebone, London (closed)
- Texture, Regent's Park and Marylebone (closed)
- Social Eating House, Soho, London
- Aquavit, St James's, London
- Matt Worswick at the Latymer, Bagshot (closed – reopened as Steve Smith at Latymer, awarded one star)
- Wilks, Bristol (closed)
- Pony & Trap, Chew Magna (closed)
- Red Lion Freehouse, East Chisenbury
- Flitch of Bacon, Little Dunmow, Essex
- Oxford Kitchen, Oxford (closed)
- Black Rat, Winchester
- Braidwoods, Dalry, Scotland (closed)
- James Sommerin, Penarth, Wales (closed)
- Mews, Baltimore, Ireland (closed)