Foie Gras with a side of Stella
Is there no place for craft beers in Michelin-starred restaurants?...
Ah, those coveted Michelin Stars. The toast of foodies and food fashionistas the world over. The par de excellence. The top table of fine dining. The crème de la crème. But beyond this glamorous facade of foie gras and foamed peas there lies a dirty secret that contradicts everything that the Michelin Guide stands for. The answer? Unimaginative, uninspired, industrial mainstream beers masquerading as if they were genuinely on a par with the world's finest food.
In fact, of the one hundred and forty Michelin starred eateries in the UK, most are more than happy to serve names like Peroni, Becks, Tiger and Stella alongside haute couture grub.
So, with the UK's most reputable dining establishments casually filling pint glasses with carbonated swill whilst turning their noses up at the mere sight of a KFC chicken nugget, there was little that could stop us from doing a name and shame.
First up is The Square, located in London's salubrious and leafy Mayfair. Boasting two Michelin stars, the menu at The Square serves all your family favourites including 'Lasagne of Dorset Crab with a Cappuccino of Shellfish and Champagne Foam' and 'Sweet and Sour Consommé with Suckling Pig Ravioli'. What it fails to offer, however, is an accompaniment of craft beers, opting instead for a rather embarrassing barrage of Budvar, Hoegaarden and Meteor; the latter of which currently scores a crippling 11 overall points on Rate beer. Not really worth the menu's £170+ price tag.
With London's Hibiscus, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and The Berkeley fairing little better, the rest of England follows suite. Gidleigh Park in Devon, for example, chooses to punish diners' palettes with a mouth watering selection of beers from the likes of Guinness and, of course, CAMRA favourite – Tribute; a traditional English ale that's hopped with enough Fuggles to induce a small socks and sandals wearing fit. Whatley Manor in Wiltshire is also worth a mention for their criminal pairing of snails and quails with a chilled glass of Becks. We're not entirely sure whether the drinkers of Becks are huge fans of roasted breast of quail but we like to keep an open mind.
North of the border, the good people at the Gleneagles restaurant are also doing their bit to prevent the craft beer revolution from reaching the palettes of their patrons by offering Budvar and Tiger. The pinnacle of Scottish brewing – St Andrews Ale – is also on offer...we're guessing that's one for their American diners.
So if scores of two star Michelin restaurants serving fizzy yellow lagers didn't come as a surprise, you might be more taken aback by the even more highly regarded three star Michelins that include household names like Ramsay and Blumenthal at the helm.
In fact, there's one three star restaurant in particular that takes home the crown for the UK's most atrocious beer list and that's The Waterside Inn in Berkshire. Purporting to be a 'leading light in the world of gastronomy' whilst offering cooking that's 'unashamedly French' (whatever that means), The Waterside Inn sets some pretty steep expectations. That is, until you set eyes on the beer list – a tragic trio of Peroni, Guiness and Stella - which only serves to mimic feelings similar to what it must be like to find out your parents are actually brother and sister.
Fancy saving yourself a few bucks and want to avoid pairing your dinner with foul, fizzy, chemical-ridden beers? Avoiding Michelin restaurants, at least until they join the craft beer restaurant, is probably a good place to start. Only time can tell whether hand-crafted beer that contains the finest, natural ingredients brewed to Michelin Star – not Stella - standards will ever find a place in these restaurants. If all else fails we'll have a bottle of 77 and a family bucket of chicken to go.