Inspectors from the world’s most prestigious restaurant guide have declared a shining new North East star on the UK’s fine dining landscape.
Restaurant Hjem has put Northumberland on the Michelin Guide map after being awarded a coveted star by the illustrious restaurant bible for its 2021 edition.
Less than two years since welcoming its first guests, Hjem - located in Wall in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall Country – is already a destination restaurant, attracting food lovers from all over the North East and far beyond thanks to its exquisite tasting menu and unique atmosphere.
Having attracted the attention of Michelin Guide inspectors just weeks after opening in May 2019 – resulting in commending Michelin Plate entry in the 2020 Guide – Hjem, which combines the best local produce with Scandinavian values and cooking techniques, will now join fellow star recipients Newcastle’s House of Tides and The Raby Hunt in Darlington at the North East’s top table.
Head chef Alex Nietosvuori from Sweden, who runs Hjem with his partner, Northumberland-born Ally Thompson, said: “It’s such a fantastic honour to be given this recognition and we could not be happier.
“As a chef, this is one of the achievements you aim for… which makes this a day for big celebrations!”
The announcement was made during a digital but nevertheless emotional launch, presented by TV personality Davina McCall and Michelin International Director, Gwendal Poullennec.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Poullennec, said: “This has been a hugely challenging period for the hospitality industry and our thoughts remain with all those who have suffered from the pandemic and by the restrictions that have been put in place.
He continued: “We were heartened by the number of chefs who called us during the year to ensure we were still going ahead with the Guide and our yearly awards. The Michelin Guide is about so much more than recognising those at the top of their profession; it is about promoting the hospitality industry as a whole and we want to shine a light on the hard work, tenacity and commitment of chefs and restaurant teams.”
Ally, who along with Alex, was watching proceedings from the comfort of Hjem’s elegant 24-cover dining room, said: “We are absolutely over the moon and can’t quite believe it.
“It’s fair to say this has been the worst year for hospitality anyone can remember, so to get this news is such an amazing boost for the whole Restaurant Hjem team, who work so incredibly hard – and of course our wonderful North East suppliers.
“We couldn’t be prouder to be Northumberland’s only Michelin starred restaurant and look forward to being able to open our doors again to celebrate with friends and guests.”
Like the rest of the UK hospitality industry, Restaurant Hjem has been operating under a range of Government restrictions throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and is currently closed due to lockdown.
Alex, who lists some of Scandinavia’s most celebrated restaurants on his CV including Maaemo in Oslo (3 Michelin Stars) and Daniel Berlin Krog in Skåne Tranås (2 Michelin Stars), added: “The past 10 months have of course been very frustrating and uncertain, so to get a Michelin Star during such a challenging time is truly wonderful.
“It makes us even more eager – if that’s possible - to get back in the kitchen!”
Hjem, which is typically booked up three months in advance, is now a member of the most exclusive of culinary clubs who can boast the coveted Michelin Star, and Ally and Alex are looking forward to receiving the all-important plaque and chef’s jacket in the coming days.
Based on five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits, inspectors can award between zero and three stars.
Ally said: “We’re so pleased the inspectors visited Hjem during the few months when we were able to open in 2020. We felt like we had come such a long way since their first visit in 2019 and could not be more thrilled that they seem to agree.
“On a personal note, I’m also pretty excited as Alex always said he’d propose when he got a Michelin Star!”
In normal times, Restaurant Hjem serves a tasting menu for £85; with wine and juice pairing options. There are also Dinner B&B packages available. To find out more and to be the first to hear when bookings will reopen, visit www.restauranthjem.co.uk or keep your eyes on Hjem’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts