Mrs D and I like eating at good restaurants. Over the years we've been around most of the noted ones in and near to Wales. So its a real bonus that we have a new Michelin star retaurant just 3 miles from our home - the Checkers in Montgomery. Its only been open a few months, and is the only Welsh addition to the Michelin Guide for 2012 - and there are but 4 Welsh restaurants so honoured.
Until less than two years ago the Checkers was a good place for a pint and a sandwich, That was about it. But when Eric Whittingham died it closed and 'The Frenchman and the Farmer's Daughters' who had been running the excellent Herbert Arms in nearby Chirbury (in England though) bought it, revamped it, and opened it as top quality restaurant. Have been there three times and it really is top class. Not sure what Eric would think of it though.
The other three Michelin star restaurants in Wales are the Walnut Tree near Abergavenny, Tyddyn Llan near Denbigh and the Crown at Whitebrook in Monmouthshire. Over the years we have eaten at all of them, and they are good. I reckon the Checkers is as good as any of them. The chef (the Frenchman) at the Checkers is Stephane Borie, who learned his trade with Michel Roux at the Wateside Inn at Bray. We ate and stayed there a few weeks ago, but could only have afforded it because our issue ganged up to pay, as a birthday present for Mrs D. My part was paying for the room! The waterside really is seriously expensive. Anyway Stephane moved to Les Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, which we have never felt able to afford. Then it was the Herbert Arms - and now its the Checkers. Our good fortune in mid Wales.
Having a Michelin star restaurant in Montgomery is wonderful news for the town, and for Montgomeryshire. The area will now be featuring in promotional literature across the world. Mrs D and I have always been into good restaurants, and appreciate the value they add. Of course, we will have no chance of booking supper at the last minute now - and I'd be surprised if the price didn't sneak up over time - but you can't have everything. Congratulations to the Checkers.