Guide holds key to dining with stars
DINERS wanting to reach for the stars should look no further than Dublin's Patrick Guilbaud and Thornton's.
The restaurants have retained their two-star ratings in the latest Michelin Guide the highest accolade awarded to any Irish restaurant north or south.
The guide's authors obviously feel the restaurants are the equal of British household names such as Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons near Oxford, and London's Le Gavroche and and La Tante Claire.
By the guide's own value system two stars means "excellent cooking, worth a detour".
The coveted three stars mean "excellent cuisine" and that such a restaurant is by itself "worth a special journey".
For many chefs and restaurateurs the first Michelin star is the hardest to attain and the most coveted as it frequently leads on to greater things, and accompanying higher prices.
Dublin restaurant The Commons received its first Michelin star in the new guide while the capital's Peacock Alley retains its one star. The exclusive west Cork sushi restaurants Shiro in Ahakista loses its one star, as does the restaurant at Erriseask House in Ballyconneely in Connemara.
In the North, which has no three or two-star restaurants, the gastronomic flag is flown by Restaurant Michael Deane in Belfast and Bangor's Shanks.
The category of greatest interest to those of more modest means is the so-called "Bib Gourmand" which boasts "good food at moderate prices".
Ireland has 11 suchrestaurants in the current guide.
The two newest additions are Kilkenny's Zuni and Kinsale's Fishy Fishy Cafe.
They join a list that includes: Customs House, Baltimore; Jacobs on the Mall, Cork; The Chat House, Dingle; Jacob's Ladder, and the Mermaid Cafe in Dublin; The Tannery in Dungarvan; Duzi's Cafe in Dun Laoghaire; Kenmare's An Leath Phingin and The Lime Tree; Casino House, Kilbrittain.
Four Dublin restaurants have been dropped from this list: Blueberry's, Chapter One; Ernie's; Morel's; as has Galway's Archway.