'Original gastro pub' loses its place in Michelin Guide
A highly regarded pub restaurant which has featured in the nation's food bible for the past 10 years has lost its Michelin star.
The Olive Branch, in Rutland, had held the accolade since 2002. However, it is conspicuous by its absence in the Michelin Guide for Great Britain & Ireland 2013 – Hotels & Restaurants.
It leaves Hambleton Hall, alongside Rutland Water, as the only Leicestershire and Rutland venue with a star rating in the new edition.
Chef Sean Hope, who opened the Olive Branch with co-owner Ben Jones, in Clipsham, in 1999, is stoical on missing out this time around.
"It's been great to be recognised for the last 10 years," he said. "It wasn't something we set out to achieve when we started out to rejuvenate this little village pub, but it was a fantastic accolade to have, especially within two years of opening.
"We were a gastro pub before the term was coined and we haven't changed from what we set out to do. As far as myself and the team are concerned, it's business as usual.
"We are a small pub restaurant and our ethos is very simple.
"It's a hands-on business offering quality food and great service – that's what we do and are proud of.
"On this occasion, we didn't meet the Michelin criteria, but we are going to get our heads down and get on with doing what has made us successful so far."
Paul Cordle, spokesman for the Michelin Guide, said: "There can be a variety of reasons why a restaurant loses its Michelin star.
"It could be that a chef moves on, or down to ownership or management changes.
"In the case of the Olive Branch, it was just that on this occasion standards were not up to the level required.
"We need to make sure for our readers that the food is fantastic on a Saturday, Tuesday, any day of the week.
"There is nothing to say the restaurant can't regain its Michelin star next time and, if it is merited, we would be happy to put the star back on."
The Olive Branch team can take solace from the pub being named as Leicestershire and Rutland's best dining pub in the latest Good Pub Guide.
Its sister pub, the Red Lion, in Stathern, the Vale of Belvoir, is given an honourable mention in the Michelin Guide, earning a Bib Gourmand for offering good food at a reasonable price.
As the only eatery in the two counties to still boast a star, Hambleton Hall general manager Chris Hurst said: "It's a prestigious accolade to have and we're delighted to retain our star rating."
There was also good new for The Berkeley Arms, in Wymondham, and The Joiners Arms, Bruntingthorpe, who were also awarded the Bib Gourmand.
The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2013 is available now, priced £15.99.