Top chef to shut Bagnor's Michelin-starred The Blackbird and reopen as new fine dining restaurant
The Blackbird is to close and lose its coveted Michelin star, the Newbury Weekly News can exclusively reveal.
The pub, located in Bagnor, won the star within 12 months of opening in 2017 and has retained it every year since.
However, owner and head chef Dom Robinson told the NWN it will not reopen and will instead be replaced by a new fine dining restaurant called Renaissant.
Mr Robinson described it as a "fresh start" and said he made the decision because "I wanted to be able to cook the food I love on my own terms".
He added that it "felt like the right time for a change and the right thing to do".
Renaissant will open on September 22 – exactly four years to the day that Mr Robinson opened The Blackbird – and serve the same classic French cuisine Mr Robinson has become renowned for.
Speaking to the NWN, Mr Robinson said: “It just felt like the right time for a change and the right thing for me. It felt like a completely logical thing to do.
“It will be a fresh start. I’ve spoken to Michelin about it and they have been great.
“I will lose the star, which I don’t have a problem with. It means I get to try and win it back again, and that’s a great challenge.
“I always wanted a Michelin star. It was my dream since the age of about 16, but I never sat down and thought right this is how I plan to get it. I just cook my food and if people love it then great.
“I just want to cook delicious food and make it look beautiful. I don’t want to be all things to all people anymore.
“Sometimes in life you need to take a step backward to be able to take a step forward.”
He added: “I could have reopened it [The Blackbird] as a casual pub doing Sunday roasts with a reduced service and paid a head chef £40,000 a year to run it, but I didn’t feel I could justify that.
“I thought to myself, what is it I actually want? Do I want to serve Sunday roasts in a pub? And the answer was no.
“I’ve been in restaurant settings all of my life and I just want to be able to cook my own food on my own terms.
“I chose the name Renaissant because it’s the past tense of Renaissance, which means to be reborn. I thought it was very apt.”
Mr Robinson said Renaissant would have a focus on classical cuisine, "with a more comfortable restaurant environment than The Blackbird".
During lockdown, Mr Robinson set up an outdoor dining restaurant called Pizza Paloma which allowed people to meet friends outside while indoor hospitality was closed.
Pizza Paloma, as the name suggests, has been serving affordable pizzas and cold beers outside and has proved extremely popular with punters.
Mr Robinson said he hopes to keep Pizza Paloma going as an “alpine ski-type restaurant with outdoor lighting and log burners”.
To find out more about Renaissant, visit www.restaurantrenaissant.com