Restaurant loses its Michelin star for third time as chef walks out

Row as owner plans to turn award-winning eatery into a pub

To lose one Michelin star may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. But one restaurant has just lost a third.

Staff at The Goose in Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire, which had last month won back its one Michelin star status, have walked out in a dispute over the direction of the business, taking the award with them.

The stone building in the middle of the village cut a forlorn figure yesterday. Its tables lay unset and customers calling to book were greeted by a terse message: due to "unforeseen circumstances", the restaurant had been closed. A sad-looking notice in a window announced that it was closed for refurbishment and would reopen on 16 March under new management.

The chef, Ryan Simpson, and his staff walked out last week after the owner, Paul Castle, said he wanted to turn the restaurant into a pub. Since taking over as chef, Mr Simpson – the third chef to win a Michelin star there – had worked to regain the award lost when his predecessor left citing financial difficulties.

Mr Simpson said yesterday: "I did not agree with the way Mr Castle wanted to take the business or the methods he was using to run it."

Trading as a gastropub under Mr Castle's ownership, The Goose won its first star in 2005, with Mike North in the kitchen, but it was lost soon after when Mr North left to run The Walnut Tree in nearby Murcott.

Converted into a restaurant run by the chef Matthew Tomkinson, it won back the accolade in 2008. Six months later, Mr Tomkinson too had left, this time for a Hampshire eatery, saying there were "alarm bells ringing about the financial side of the [Oxfordshire] business".

Its owner went into receivership and Mr Castle returned, appointing Mr Simpson as chef in 2008. He regained the Michelin star for the third time, but has now walked out after reportedly being informed by the owner that the restaurant was losing money and the food, featuring dishes such as rabbit and muntjac roasted in hay, was "too poncey".

"To my knowledge, it is the only restaurant in the country to have lost three Michelin-starred chefs; it must be the most starred, unstarred restaurant in the world," said the former sous-chef Liam Trotman.

Mr Simpson added: "When we were awarded the star, there were no congratulations forthcoming. I have even heard rumours that Mr Castle had lined up a replacement in advance."

Neighbours yesterday described the efforts made by Mr Simpson and his staff to integrate into the community. The restaurant bought ingredients from local shops and got involved with the annual Fair. Tom Orpwood, butchery manager at the Britwell Salome Farm Shop, said: "They are very pleasant people and used to come in here a lot. But there was obviously conflict with the owner."

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Castle confirmed that the refurbishment of the restaurant, originally planned for later this year, had been brought forward. He added that The Goose would reopen as a gastro pub, with a new executive chef running the kitchen and himself as overall manager.

He said: "Ryan's cooking is brilliant but it is not quite in line with what people in the surrounding area enjoy, which is why we have decided to revert back to a formula that worked both critically and financially."

However the former customer Julia Wells insisted that the Michelin-starred chef's approach was exactly what was required. She told him: "Let me know where you go to next, I'd travel miles to eat in your restaurant."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory