The Atelier du Peintre in Colmar received an étoile (also known as a “macaron“) in the 2011 France Guide, published earlier this week. We have dined there several times in the past few months and it has become a favourite.
A few years ago the chef Loïc Lefebvre and his partner Caroline Cordier were hired, from a restaurant in the south of France, by a Scottish business millionaire to start a new restaurant in Inverness, with the aim of getting a Michelin star. Somewhat unsurprisingly the locals didn’t visit it in any numbers and it lost money. The restaurant got the attention of Gordon Ramsay in his Kitchen Nightmares television series (La Riviera, Inverness 14 June 2005 – after our first visit we found the programme on YouTube). There were several makeovers and a change of style with a more bistro-style lunchtime restaurant and a continuing separate evening restaurant – not really those suggested by Ramsay. With the changes, the bistro style became more successful and another restaurant in the same style, managed by the couple, was opened in Edinburgh. In 2007 there seems to have been a row between the French couple and the businessman and they walked out. They started their own restaurant, the Atelier du Peintre, in Colmar in summer 2009.
Slightly more surprising was the lack of any recognition (or even a mention!) in the new Michelin guide for the Auberge de la Ferme Hueb in Marckolsheim run by the former chef of the Blanche Neige (it has a similar ranking to the Atelier in the Gault Millau guide). But that is probably the ambience not being up to Michelin standards; the quality of the food certainly has been on all our visits. The chef, Mike Gemershausen, has picked up several awards in the last year. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming year and whether he spreads his talents too quickly and thinly. He has now bought a hotel-restaurant just across the Rhine from Selestat in Germany and also become a partner in another hotel-restaurant across the Rhine from Strasbourg. The Ferme Hueb is rented but there has been no indication it is closing so presumably he will put in another chef.