A restaurant that has traded for just 20 days since it opened in October 2020 has been awarded a Michelin star in the restaurant guide’s annual ceremony. Behind, in London Fields, east London, was among several newly garlanded establishments, but is arguably one of the most surprising.
In a ceremony that took place via a video link broadcast from the UK and France, Behind was awarded its first star live. The brainchild of Andy Beynon, who previously worked as Jason Atherton’s development chef and under Claude Bosi at Hibiscus, among other restaurants, it is his first solo venture.
“It means everything,” said Beynon. “Everything I’ve been working towards for the past 15 years. And opening in lockdown! We’ve only traded for 20 days. It’s crazy, absolutely crazy, but it means the world.”
Beynon launched Behind just nine days before the second national lockdown in November. Those customers lucky enough to eat there were treated to several fine-dining courses based around sustainable seafood. While the menu changes every day, diners can expect the likes of native lobster muffin and yuzu, brown crab panna cotta or roasted hake with clams and sherry.
Since the restaurant only seats 18 diners at its chef’s table, which circles an open kitchen in the middle of the room, the number of visitors through the door during this time has been limited. “The idea behind Behind is basically that nothing is hidden,” Beynon told Code Hospitality. “The customers can see everything that is going on, they can see all the chefs at work, where the wine and food is stored and prepared.”
There is a theatrical element to dining at Behind, with guests given the choice of whether they see the multi-course menu beforehand or not. One of the few who have eaten there is Gavin Hanly of the respected Hot Dinners blog, who was effusive. “It was everything that we can’t get in our own kitchen – great attention to detail from expert chefs, a convivial atmosphere while still remaining nice and socially distant, a fun and interesting wine pairing and most importantly an excellent meal.
“There’s nothing else quite like it in town right now and if you’ve been craving something that showcases what the London food scene is capable of – this is well worth your attention.”
Like every restaurant in the UK, Behind was forced to adapt during the pandemic, even though it was open for such a brief time. Next door, it runs a bottle shop, with a lengthy wine list and beers from London breweries. It has since developed dishes for takeaway, having managed to convert a four-course menu into an offering to eat at home.
In its short time of operation, Behind has struck a chord among its visitors, not to mention the Michelin judges. Speaking in December, Beynon said: “The clientele we’ve already had over 10 days has been amazing. We’ve had some amazing feedback and in a way it has been a blessing in disguise as we’ve created a small buzz. We’ve had a repeat customer already and that kind of thing just means so much to me.”
The Michelin Guide has received criticism for continuing with the award announcements in a year like no other. While it has given two new three stars (both to women – Clare Smyth and Helene Darroze), launched a green star for sustainable restaurants and given nods to service and mentorship, removing stars from businesses would be considered a cut too deep.
However, new entries will be sure to receive a much-need boost, and potentially a rise in bookings, ahead of reopening – whenever that might be. “Thank you so much,” said Beynon in the online ceremony. “That is unreal. It’s unbelievable.”