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Why does Glasgow not have any Michelin starred restaurants?

Published: July 13, 2015

A city bursting with great culinary talent, a metropolis of fine eateries and a place of renowned foodies - whatever way you look at Glasgow, a question always springs to mind... Why is it that no Glasgow venue has been awarded a single Michelin Star?

Having researched Michelin starred venues and visited a few in my adult years, it goes without saying that they ooze first class sophistication and elegance.

Whilst recognising that such restaurants can be quite the experience for fellow diners, is it fair to say that in one's opinion there is quite an evident degree of monotony? Monotony being a factor I find the Glasgow food scene lacks entirely. Forever serving fine cuisines with a friendly smile, the rebirth of the once industrial Glasgow has been in the works for years offering style and variety to its fellow diners, despite the lack of recognition by Michelin.

The general presumption of a Michelin Star awarded venue is that such eateries deliver a persistently exceptional level of service accompanied with high quality cuisine. The respected accolade is known to boost a restaurant's popularity and in the instances where such a merit is lost, it can drastically damage the venue's reputation. It would be almost moronic to deny that the name "Michelin" does not carry internationally though it is difficult to ignore the amount of awarded venues which have went bust despite having this so-called honour.

Speaking as a Glaswegian and a food enthusiast, there is a general consensus that the people of Glasgow do want a level of style, sophistication and they want the overall glamorous experience that comes with eating out. However, affordability is a determining factor as well as the food quality. So considering the value for money ratio - What would a regular diner associate with a Michelin starred venue? Do Glaswegians really want to be sitting stiffly on the edge of their seats - persistently pressed, consistently asked if their meals are enjoyable and being served at least eight plates of plush eats?

Glasgow is a casual yet progressive city who relentlessly innovates and is open to trying new styles of cuisine. I find that this may be the key differentiator from the traditional Michelin criteria. Glasgow's lack of history in relation to food culture may also be taken into consideration as it has only been in recent times there has been a surge of establishments which have firmly put the city on the map for casual dining.

Speaking from experience working in bars and restaurants, I can't help but imagine the already fast-paced, and at times unbearable, working environment for a chef - then I picture the additional stress of striving for a Michelin Star and then maintaining such rivalrous status year after year. So I dare ask, does Glasgow really care about not having a Michelin Star worthy venue? Is it relevant to the already lauded foodie scene?

Darren Scott, Merchant City veteran and owner of Budoir and newcomer Islena, says, "The Glasgow diner seems to be more led by style, trends, new concepts and contemporary dining than the traditional format that Michelin tends to lean towards. The most successful and appealing places in Glasgow offer first class food but with a more casual style of service and environment."
"Good quality casual dining is definitely the focus over Michelin stars," continues Darren, "the emphasis is still on great food and great establishments within Glasgow, it's just not on Michelin starred up-market restaurants which may be viewed as too stuffy, pricey or as somewhere for a special occasion."
"I also think that Glasgow struggles in the Michelin area as we have no great history or affair with this style and level of cooking. This is not an area within Glasgow which can be expanded upon easily, instead we have created our own scene & market which matches our culture and city."

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Considering that Michelin Stars reflect "what's on the plate and only what's on the plate", in late 2014, the editor of Michelin publicly stated that there will be a new approach when it comes to judging. The value for money will be a factor will be taken into more serious consideration.
Giving recognition to the fact that there has been a growing international trend of flexible dining and competitive pricing, some have the view that Glasgow's varied food scene may well be on its way to Michelin "stardom" but which venue would you consider to be a fine contender, if any?

Warren Campbell is a food and drink enthusiast who has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the Scottish licence trade. Having written for various publications and worked behind several bars, Warren’s passion for all things trade related is what drives him. He can be seen enjoying a Balvenie 12 Year Old Doublewood in his favourite haunts around Glasgow or frequenting between Glasgow and Edinburgh’s thriving restaurant scenes.

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