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Norfolk's two Michelin-starred restaurants retain the honour in next year's guide - as other local eateries get a nod

PUBLISHED: 13:22 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:53 10 October 2016

Galton Blackiston. Photo: Julia Holland.

Galton Blackiston. Photo: Julia Holland.

Photography by Julia Holland 2014. http://www.all-about-image.co.uk

It began as a guide for drivers across the channel - and has evolved into a globally recognised mark of high-end dining.

EDP NORFOLK Food Review on the Neptune Inn and Restaurant in Hunstanton Picture: Matthew Usher.EDP NORFOLK Food Review on the Neptune Inn and Restaurant in Hunstanton Picture: Matthew Usher.

Prestigious Michelin stars are few and far between – gifted by secretive inspectors to only the finest eateries.

Earlier this week, the UK’s cream of the crop was revealed with the release of next year’s guide – with two restaurants in Norfolk securing the honour.

For well-known chef Galton Blackiston, it marks an incredible 19th year that his Morston Hall, a manor house in Holt, has retained its star, while, just along the coast in Hunstanton, the Neptune restaurant also held onto the distinction.

It means that Kevin Mangeolles, who runs the Neptune with wife Jacki, has now had a star to his name for 18 years – nine at his previous restaurant on the Isle of Wight, and another nine on the Norfolk coast.

But what may sound like a daunting feat is “much less interesting than it sounds”, Mr Mangeolles said.

“You don’t get a Michelin star for cooking three-star food badly,” he said. “You just have to use good ingredients and cook them well – and consistently. I know there are better chefs out there than me, but I am able to cook at a high standard consistently.”

He said while the pair weren’t aiming for a second star, the accolade did bring diners to the door.

“There are people who come with their Michelin check list, and others who are curious,” he said, “but at the end of the day, it only gets people here.

The Mulberry in Thetford has made the 2017 Michelin Guide. Owner Karen Connor. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2016The Mulberry in Thetford has made the 2017 Michelin Guide. Owner Karen Connor. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2016

“You still have to do the business and make sure people go away happy.”

While Norfolk boasts just two Michelin-starred restaurants, and Suffolk none, there are 26 eateries elsewhere in Norfolk that are featured in the guide as stand-out places to visit.

Among them is The Reindeer, in Norwich, which is marking its third year in the pages. Dan Searle, its owner, said: “The inspectors come in but you don’t know who they are.

“But if you’ve done well they’ll come up to you for a chat at the end of the meal.

Michelin: Factfile

The Michelin Guides are a series of books which have been published by the French Michelin company for more than a century.

Today, the term usually refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest European hotel and restaurant guide which awards Michelin stars for excellence.

It began in 1900, when tire manufacturing brothers André and Édouard Michelin published the first edition of a guide for French drivers.

A success with motorists, their guides evolved in and 1926 it began to award stars for fine dining.

Maintaining the anonymity of its inspectors is a priority - many are advised not to disclose their line of work, even to their parents.

Since 1955, the guide also began highlighting restaurants offering good food at affordable prices - called Bib Gourmand.

While Michelin stars are generally highly prized by restaurateurs, three chefs have asked the business to revoke a star after they felt it created undesirable customer pressure.

“They are obviously really serious about food and are always interested to know how things are done and where they come from. It’s definitely an honour.”

He said, particularly when the guide is released, diners are eager to sample the menu. “It’s been great for us in lots of respects,” he said. “We are really serious about what we do and it’s great to be recognised.”

Abbie Frary, owner of the Bure River Cottage, another restaurant listed in the guide, added: “I’m never one for accolades but it’s nice that people see us for what we are and what we are trying to do. It does give people a safeguard and lets them know a little more about what to expect.”

New restaurants to be featured in the guide next year include the Mulberry in Thetford, which is run by Karen Connor.

• Do you have a food and drink story we should be writing about? Email reporter Lauren Cope on lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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