Eat your heart out, Basil: Torquay's in the Michelin

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The Independent Online

For the past 30 years the figure of Basil Fawlty has towered over the unfortunate hoteliers and restaurateurs of Torquay. Any show of rudeness invited comparison with the proprietor of Fawlty Towers who so mistreated his guests.

Yesterday, Torquay, home to John Cleese's fictional seaside hotel, had the last laugh. Michelin's 2006 guide bestowed a star on two of the town's dining establishments, Orestone Manor and the Elephant Bar and Restaurant. Like Fawlty Towers,Orestone Manor is managed by a husband-and-wife duo, Mark and Rose Ashton. But the restaurants' menus show the progress that British cooking has made.

Orestone's à la carte options include spatchcocked quail and pea purée with wild mushroom vinaigrette. Both restaurants specialise in the region's meat, fish and cheese. According to the guide, such culinary achievement is spreadingfrom London, as chefs take their expertise home. At Orestone, the chef Darron Bunn is a protégé of Marco Pierre White.

Another trend is the rise of gastropubs, which account for 432 entries - one in four - in the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2006. Derek Bulmer, editor of the Michelin Guide, said: "It just goes to show times are changing, because if Torquay can get stars anywhere can."

Georgina Bowen, of the English Riviera Tourist Board, said: "We appreciate the fact that people know about us because of Fawlty Towers but we are very much a quality destination and people find that out for themselves."

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