Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Marvo Stars

Wilkommen. Bienvenu. Welcome.

I have no idea how the Michelin Star system, the benchmark by which fine diners choose their venue of choice, works. I should. I eat in many of them. I know that they let me down, often.

So, I, Marvo, have decided to start my own system to let people know the reality of fine dining throughout the world.

No more bull. I have recently travelled the world (all right, little bits of Europe) and have eaten and (become) drunk in some strange places.

As an introduction to this blog, let me say that of the many Michelin Starred establishments of whom I've recently been a guest, I can thoroughly recommend the Ivy (good for celeb-watching) in London, Arzak (pyrotechnics) in Spain, and Toni Vicente (huge brandy snaps) again in Spain. The absence of a recommendation at this point probably indicates that I haven't been there, or that it's actually pants. 

Michelin base their awards on service and food. Broadly speaking. God knows how they come to their decisions. Trust Marvo though, I won't let you down.

My criteria are these:
  • "Wow" factor.
Ah. You've seen through my ploy. Yes, that's it. Food, service, welcome. Anything. But it must be hugely WOW. Because that's why you're not paying £2.99 for a piece of breaded beef in a crap bun.

It needs to start on arrival. It needs to go all the way through the experience. And in the morning, you shouldn't be thinking "Shit. I paid THAT?"

So, in my inaugural Marvo Star blog, I'll not keep you in suspense. I'll go for the killer. If you think you've got somewhere better, faster, more shiny, let me know.


The Jesmond Dene, Newcastle.

Look it up. It's on Google. Trip Advisor. All sorts.

And it's bloody brilliant. Get a cab (only, obviously, if you're staying in Newcastle). A chap, a very nice chap at that, will open the cab door for you. Even if it's a pikey student-type cab.

They have a "tasting" menu. Go for it. It features wow, wow and wow. The head chef, a Pierre Rigothier, has a seriously sharp knife. And he's on Twitter, so if I'm wrong, you can flay him. But you won't be disappointed.

Compare this with certain places (I'm taking legal advice before I name them). Where they serve foie gras, fresh foie gras, in a lump, lightly fried, in a Silence of the Lambs-stylee. Just DON'T. Where they think that a selection of stupid cuttings on a Chinese spoon passes for an amuse bouche. Just DON'T.

All right, it will cost you. Over £100 a head. Plus the fat end of £50 for the wine to go with it. But in the morning, you'll thank me.

That's the first one. I hope the blog gets better.

Thanks for looking.


  1. Okay, love it! Only one thing to ask, when you tempt us by suggesting the tasting menu you need to give me details. When anyone says they have been to a good place and say I should try the same, my first question is always, always, what did you have?

    So, you have tickled the tast buds but I will need demand more:-))))

    Fyi, just viewed your profile and see you like anything with Julia Roberts, me too, love her. However, suspect you may like her for many more reasons than me!

    Looking forward to the next one!


  2. Love JDH, and like you think Pierre is a culinary wonder. So pleased I live in Newcastle so I can go whenever I feel like it.
    As for what I like, I am prepared to eat just about anything on the menu to see what it is like. So far I have never been let down by anything other than my own personal preference. The food and it's preparation has always been fine by me and the service always excellent. Then again I think one always gets good service if you start off relating to the staff as human beings and being polite with them. So far it has always worked for me.