Michelin Star Restaurants in Yorkshire

michelin star restaurants in yorkshire

If any more proof were needed that the UK is basking in its most vibrant restaurant scene ever, Michelin handed out a record number of stars this year.

The range of establishments which have been awarded the prestigious accolade stretches from gastro pubs, country hotels to fashionable city restaurants. Even better, six of the best restaurants are right here in Yorkshire.

On: spoke to the Michelin Star restaurants in Yorkshire and their  award-winning chefs about what makes their food so special, their personal foodie favourites and whether those undercover Michelin inspectors are really as secretive as they make out.

The Yorke Arms, Pateley Bridge

exterior of the yorke arms pateley bridgeHEAD CHEF: Frances Atkins

WHAT MICHELIN SAY: Creeper-clad, part 17C former shooting lodge whose antique-furnished interior features beamed ceilings and open fires. Daily specials supplement a classically-based, seasonal menu. Lavishly furnished bedrooms.

What does a Michelin Star mean to the restaurant in terms of kudos, exposure and revenue?
Our Michelin Star gained in 2003 was the best thing that ever happened to us. It is recognition of an all consuming dedicated way of life for a Restaurant with Rooms. It made a big difference to our business worldwide. Our guest expectancy level was now high and therefore we had to strive not only to maintain but to push standards higher everyday.

“Level of attention”

What’s the inspiration and philosophy behind The Yorke Arms? What’s driving the restaurant’s continued excellence?
Our inspiration comes from our beautiful environment. We are about using the freshest and best ingredients in our kitchen. This, of course, is local, wherever possible. It consists of beef, mutton, veal, venison, game birds from the moors, ingredients from our fabulous hedgerows, such as our wild garlic and our wonderful vegetables from the Yorke Arms kitchen garden. Our service is about making our guests comfortable and judging the level of attention that they require, our core staff has been with us a long time, so we are lucky enough to have an excellent team spirit, which gives us the ability to pay attention to every detail. We don’t wish to empire build, our energies concentrate on making every guest experience memorable and creating an oasis of hospitality and culinary excellence.

food from yorke arms yorkshire You’re sitting down for a meal in The Yorke Arms – what would you order?
If I had a meal today in The Yorke Arms, for lunch I would have Rabbit, Leek & Carrot Press, with our own Crab Apple Jelly. Truffled Cod, Parmesan Gnocchi, Watercress Rhubarb, Beetroot Breton, Seville Orange Fromage Frais with a glass of Olivier Leflaive Chablis.

Are the Michelin inspectors really as secretive as they make out?
Yes, very much so. One of the main reasons that they command so much respect within the profession is that they are totally anonymous and pass no comment, and are highly qualified themselves.

Editor’s note: In 2020, following the Coronavirus crisis, the Yorke Arms announced it would discontinue as a restaurant and become a country house available for hire

The Old Vicarage, Sheffield

tessa bramley head chef old vicarage sheffieldHEAD CHEF: Tessa Bramley

WHAT MICHELIN SAY: Victorian Vicarage in mature gardens. Traditional, homely lounge; abstract art in more modern dining room. Innovative cooking makes vibrant use of local/home grown ingredients.

“Craft skills”

What does a Michelin Star mean to the restaurant in terms of kudos, exposure and revenue?
We have been in business at The Old Vicarage almost 25 years, so we cook food to delight our customers, who keep returning again and again. We do not set out to collect awards, all that matters is giving great hospitality and fantastic food to please our diners, but if you get that bit right the awards will come anyway.

We’ve been highly rated in all the guides since the year we opened so we must be doing something right – but it is not because we chase recognition, we just want to cook good food. We see many young chefs who want to go straight to the awards bit and get their name in lights by producing high fashion faddy food, but seem to want to miss out on the craft skills of learning how to cook a good meal first.

After 25 years of cooking at this level an award is a nice rubber stamp, and of course we would not be here still in business if we did not get the revenue part right. But what we do definitely find is that overseas visitors seek us out through the Michelin Guide and for that it is absolutely invaluable. There is no Guide that is more respected and valued.

old vicarage sheffield south yorkshire fish food“Simple formula”

What’s the inspiration and philosophy behind The Old Vicarage? What’s driving the restaurant’s continued excellence?
Cooking inspirational food that reflects the changing seasons and our surrounding countryside. My work revolves around the kitchen garden and when I compose a dish and look for ideas the clues are all there from a walk along the hedgerows and fields surrounding our house. I ask all my chefs to consider one thing when they are discussing ideas for new dishes – that it has been said for many years that one could tell the time of year and location from what comes out on the plate at The Old Vicarage.

That was over 20 years ago and I still regard it as a huge compliment. That quotation has been reproduced in the national press so many times over the years that it clearly still means something to foodies – perhaps more so today, when there is so much homogeneous and internationalised “fine dining” offered as a reliable, high quality but ultimately bland and soulless formula. What keeps us finely tuned and is a major part of our success is the input from all our local farms and smallholders, as well as my gardener, who keep coming up with stupendous ingredients for us. Back to a simple formula really : genuine hospitality and great cooking.

old vicarage interior dining room“Special occasion”

You’re sitting down for a meal in The Old Vicarage – what would you order?
I would ask advice on the menu and its ingredients and also ask for advice in matching the wines, but since it is clear from the menu that everything is locally produced and of the highest quality, I would go with whatever I fancy on the night. It’s easy ordering in a good restaurant but, as with menu planning, it is the seasons, the weather, and Mother Nature that tell us intuitively what is right to eat then at that moment. English game in the autumn, the first of the new season’s partridge, for example, is a high point in my gastronomic calendar.

We have a supplier, now a friend, who for years has been foraging for cep (porcini) in a highly secret location and the excitement that precedes his first visit to our back door is palpable! These events mark special points in the changing gastronomic calendar – they make a great meal into a special occasion and this is a quality I would always look for when I eat in any good restaurant.

amazing michelin starred dessert“Still a buzz”

Are the Michelin inspectors really as secretive as they make out?
Pretty much – but Michelin inspectors are just like people, they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes! Trying to spot them is not an issue we are too bothered with, indeed we are not concerned with whether or not they are inspecting us, we still set out to delight the customer, whoever they are. It is still a buzz to have a warm handshake and real words of thanks from a happy diner, whether they are a professional or not.

On the rare occasions that an inspector declares their identity, they are always really nice people anyway, always stop for a chat, talk to the guys in the kitchen… and they seem to leave here with a smile on their face! But as for secrecy, the organisation has an ethos and I think it is right. I go into a book shop to buy a Michelin Guide when they are out, or more usually we get calls each year from dozens of journalists offering congratulations on our star that year…so they must get the information before us in some way!

The Star Inn, Harome

exterior of the star restaurant harome helmsleyHEAD CHEF: Andrew Pern

WHAT MICHELIN SAY: 700 year old inn with herb garden, butcher’s shop and deli. Very appealing cooking combines traditional Northern flavours with more up-to-date nuances, using local farm and estate produce.

“Incredible ingredients”

What does a Michelin Star mean to the restaurant in terms of kudos, exposure and revenue?

Gaining our Michelin star eight years ago was something I never thought would happen, as we ran a pub – and pubs never got them! Or so I thought! It was an incredibly overwhelming feeling as we’d worked so hard, essentially by ourselves, for the first few years.

Having a bigger team would have diluted that feeling, I think. We have a lot more people involved now and it is a bit easier, although we are pushing ourselves to try to be the first pub in the world to gain two Michelin stars! Financially, it adds probably 50% turnover virtually overnight, as it is a seal of approval, known worldwide. I’m very proud that we have achieved this standard and, so far, touch wood, always seem to have favourable reviews from around the globe. Long may it continue!

What’s the inspiration and philosophy behind The Star? What’s driving the restaurant’s continued excellence?
The inspiration is to run the best pub in Britain and continue to push for perfection, offering the best food, service, accommodation and booze! It is not rocket science – it’s known as hospitality, which is the name of the game. Unfortunately, this seems to be lacking on all counts in the majority of our trade! In running our place, we use a number of local suppliers for truly regional dishes, as what I want to do is showcase the incredible ingredients, which we have literally on our doorstep – from the Dales’ wonderful dairy and meat products, game, furred and feathered, from the moors and local estates, North Sea fish and shellfish, fruit and vegetables from the Vale of York – all that Yorkshire has to offer the world of catering!

“High standards”

starter yorkshire food star northYou’re sitting down for a meal in The Star – what would you order?
I’d have Grilled Half Whitby Lobster with Sand Hutton Asparagus, Green Salad from our garden and mayonnaise using rapeseed oil from Wharfe Valley, Collingham. Then, either Braised Oxtails cooked in local Hambleton Ale with Horseradish Mash and Wintry Root Vegetables, or Locally-shot Roast Pheasant or Partridge with all the traditional trimmings, followed by Ampleforth Apple Tarte Tatin with Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream.
And drinks-wise, I’d have a pint of Meursault lager to start, then an old vine Shiraz.

Are the Michelin inspectors really as secretive as they make out?
Very much so. I haven’t seen or spoken to anyone for about 2 years. I just go into a local bookshop in mid to late January and hope for the best! They never make you aware or contact you, although every now and again they will introduce themselves, to ask how things are going and if there are any changes ahead, etc. This is the best way to keep everything to a consistently high standard at all times, day in day out, in a way it’s up to us to be ambassadors for Michelin in respecting their, and our, standards.

The Burlington at The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey

burlington devonshire arms chef steve smithHEAD CHEF: Steve Smith

WHAT MICHELIN SAY: Elegant formal dining room filled with antiques. Precise and appealingly presented seasonal cooking; game and fish from local Bolton Abbey Estate, herbs and veg from the kitchen garden.

“Strive for excellence”

What does a Michelin Star mean to the restaurant in terms of kudos, exposure and revenue?

Winning a Star puts the restaurant at the forefront of restaurant critics who, in turn, put the name in front of consumers in reviews and write-ups. This gives the restaurant not just local coverage but national coverage as well and creates a buzz about it. Write-ups also help attract more foodie customers who are generally more appreciative of the quality of ingredients and skills required to deliver the style of cooking. It’s also great as a confidence and morale booster for the staff. Whilst it doesn’t in any way change what they are doing it endorses the fact that they are doing it well. Overall it boosts business.

exterior of the devonshire arms yorkshireWhat’s the inspiration and philosophy behind The Devonshire Arms? What’s driving the restaurant’s continued excellence?
The philosophy is to aim for every higher standard – whether it’s how the telephone is first answered, to making a table booking, to the quality of dining in the Burlington. All the staff are genuinely keen to please and this enhances the guest experience.

For many of the staff working in a Michelin-starred restaurant it’s more than just a job, it’s a passion and their life’s ambition. Because we have a Star it’s important not to take it for granted – we continue to innovate and strive for excellence. We visit other top restaurants and talk to the chefs there to see what they are doing and to share experiences. Dining out is a whole experience – it’s the welcome on arrival, an outstanding meal served with knowledge and professional courtesy and the relaxing over coffee and freshly made petits fours afterwards.

dining room of burlington yorkshire dales“Consistency of quality”

You’re sitting down for a meal in The Devonshire Arms – what would you order? I would choose Foie gras ballottine – Duck textures – Fig fluid gel Red wine jelly – Toasted brioche.
Wild turbot – Haricot blanc – Langoustine – Salsify – Cos lettuce – Chanterelles – Langoustine gravy.
Caramelised apple pie mousse – Apple sorbet – Blackberry jelly – Crisp filo.

Are the Michelin inspectors really as secretive as they make out?
Yes! An inspector may visit as often as five times in one year. Particularly to those restaurants that are at the top of their game to ensure consistency of quality. Very occasionally after an inspection the inspector may return the following day and ask to meet with the Chef. That’s the first indication that the inspector has been. It may be an indication that the restaurant is being considered for an award. But even then nothing is ever definite until the day the Red Guide is out.

The Box Tree, Ilkley

exterior of the box tree ilkley yorkshireHEAD CHEF: Simon Gueller

WHAT MICHELIN SAY: Characterful 18C sandstone cottage, adorned with antiques, paintings and ornaments. Clearly defined, flavourful modern cooking served in generous portions. Charming service.

“Great expectations”

What does a Michelin Star mean to the restaurant in terms of kudos, exposure and revenue?
Receiving a Michelin star for us was a wonderful achievement and a great boost for the whole team. The Michelin star is an overall mark of quality and consistency for food and service which gives confidence to potential diners and also attracts good quality staff. Having a Michelin star does offer great marketing opportunities. It singles you out as one of only a select few.

What’s the inspiration and philosophy behind The Box Tree? What’s driving the restaurant’s continued excellence?
The Box Tree had a long standing reputation as one of the UK’s iconic restaurants. We were inspired by the opportunity to reinstate the Box Tree to its former glory. We tried to maintain some of the good old-fashioned values whilst presenting them in a more contemporary style. Combining the old and the new. We are always pushing to maintain and improve the standards. We have a large regular clientele who have great expectations and keep us well informed. Our team of quality individuals help to drive each other and other young people who come into the industry.


box tree ilkley food starterYou’re sitting down for a meal in The Box Tree – what would you order? Chimay Red beer Roast sea scallops, celeriac cream, caramelised apple, perigord truffle, celery cloud Pouilly Fuisse, Chateau de Fuisse, Macon.

Roast fillet and braised cheek of local beef, Yukon gold mash with button onions, smoky lardons and Bordelaise sauce. Chateau Neuf du Pape, Chateau Beaucastel, Rhone Passion Soufflé, passion fruit sorbet Gewurtzraminer, Willy Opitz. To finish, a selection of nice cheeses with fig and almond cake and chutneys with vintage port.

Are the Michelin inspectors really as secretive as they make out?
Fundamentally yes. They are secretive and don’t like to discuss their views or any other aspects of their meal. Occasionally after a meal they may reveal themselves but generally they are anonymous visits. However having been in the guide and held a star for 10 years plus – sometimes you recognise familiar faces!

Our working methods are the same founding principles of the 1900 Guide. They are approved and supported by readers and travellers and are considered a benchmark of quality within the profession. We make the Michelin Guide for our readers, to add enjoyment to their holidays and travel. The first principle of the Guide is the idea of visits by our anonymous inspectors. They are professionals with a background in the industry and are on the full-time Michelin payroll. Secondly, the Guide offers a selection of the best hotels and restaurants in all categories of price and comfort. There is no preconception or agenda other than to meet the expectations of our readers.

“Has to be anonymous”

The third principle is that of independence. The inspectors always pay their own bills and the Michelin Guide is entirely independent of the hotel and restaurant industry. Inclusion in the Michelin guide is free of charge. All of the establishments we list agree to inclusion. Last, but by no means least, the fourth principle: the guide is updated every year to guarantee the accuracy of the information in it. We do not write the The Guide with any kind of personal slant or attitude. It doesn’t set itself up to pass comment or lay down the law on gastronomic trends. Nor does it criticise or congratulate individuals within the industry. We write The Guide to help our readers and travellers. We have made a positive editorial choice only to offer positive comments.

There’s no question of being secretive for the sake of it, but the Guide needs an element of discretion for it to work. There are two main reasons for this : In a hotel or a restaurant we are the eyes of the customer. Our experience is the same as his or hers. It is very important that we are treated in the same way as an ordinary customer, so an inspector has to be anonymous in order to judge the real, everyday level of a hotel or restaurant.

By visiting anonymously, we avoid any special treatment which might obscure our judgement. We want hotel and restaurant professionals to be able to work and express themselves with complete freedom and independence. It is up to the industry itself to identify the needs of its customers and to meet them as they see fit. Consumers have very different expectations. Some people want more innovation, others are more interested in tradition, or make comfort, authenticity or ambience a priority. So the details of our working methods and the reasons for our decisions are not made public. Although we do spell out very clearly the criteria by which we assess a hotel or a restaurant. In other words, there’s no deliberate air of mystery about the Guide. But discretion is part of our working method and our respect for the hotel and restaurant industry.

There are three kinds of inspection. Test Meals: the inspector dines anonymously in an independent restaurant or a hotel restaurant Full Overnight inspections: an anonymous overnight stay in a hotel Inspection visit: The inspector introduces himself or herself and visits the whole of the establishment with the manager to evaluate the installation of the establishment and see how it works from behind the scenes; he or she will also evaluate any new developments/improvements in the establishment.


The inspection visit is the only way to see an establishment from every angle. As such it is vital to the inspection process and to the information we supply to our readers. An inspection visit may follow on from a Test Meal or a Full Overnight inspection. But in these cases the inspection only takes place after the bill is paid. In any case, once the inspection visit has been completed, that particular inspector will not return to the establishment for several years. This guarantees complete anonymity for the next visit. Reports: After each of these visits, and on the same day, the inspector compiles a full report on each hotel or restaurant. This is according to a precise and well-established method.

The decision to award a star is a collective one. All the inspectors who have eaten a Test Meal at a particular establishment, within a certain space of time, will give and explain their assessments in the reports they file. If there is any disagreement, the inspectors will embark on a further round of Test Meals until they are able to arrive at a final decision. In very exceptional cases, where the team is unable to reach a consensus, it falls to the head of the Guide to give the casting vote. In most cases, he opts to keep the existing classification.

(‘What Michelin Say’ quotes reproduced by kind permission of The Michelin Guide)

Editor’s note: this article was created in 2010


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