PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT EMBARGOED UNTIL
HARDEN'S SURVEY RESULTS
CHEZ BRUCE KNOCKS IVY OFF TOP SLOT
The Ivy has lost its title as Londoners' Favourite Restaurant (which it has held for the past nine years) to Wandsworth's Chez Bruce, according to the survey conducted for Harden's London Restaurants, published today. The guide, in its 15th annual edition, is based on feedback from 8,000 restaurant-goers, who submitted over 92,000 reports. Chez Bruce -- owned by Bruce Poole and Nigel Platts-Martin -- is praised for its "terrific cuisine, exceptional service and staggering wine list, all at eminently reasonable prices". Its pre-eminence helps cement Mr Platts-Martin's position as Londoners' favourite individual restaurateur.
GORDON RAMSAY TOP CHEF FOR AMAZING 10TH YEAR
Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea again tops nominations for Reporters' 'best meal of the year' -- the tenth consecutive year Mr Ramsay has been London's top chef. Harden's suggests, however, that Mr Ramsay's real achievement is to have made the rare 'leap' from being a chef to being a successful multiple restaurateur. With five restaurants in the Top 40 reporters talk about most, his achievement is currently unmatched. The guide cautions, however, that only Gordon Ramsay and Pétrus are outstanding in their own right: his other restaurants "are mainly good-to-middling operations made newsworthy by Ramsay's backing, rather than by their intrinsic merits."
GUIDE CELEBRATES CONSOLIDATION OF 'QUALITY' OPERATORS AT TOP END OF LONDON SCENE
Harden's notes that, for much of the late-1990s, the restaurants which attracted most attention tended to be style-driven places, such as those run by Conran and Harvey Nichols. These operators grabbed headlines with products that were -- and, if they still exist, often still are -- seriously mediocre. Now -- emphasising the advancement and maturity of London's restaurant scene -- it is 'quality' operations which have taken almost all of the poll positions.
The guide notes that, among the Top 40 restaurants that attract most survey commentary, five are run by Gordon Ramsay, three by the Caprice Group and three by (or in conjunction with) Nigel Platts-Martin. Other quality operators with at least two Top 40 operations include Alan Yau (Hakkasan, Yauatcha), Namita Panjabi and family (Chutney Mary, Amaya), and Mr and Mrs Robert Wilson (Bleeding Heart, The Don).
STATISTICS AND TRENDS
The guide notes the following statistics and trends:
o The last 12 months have seen more London restaurant openings than any comparable prior period. The new guide records 142 new openings, eight more than the previous record of 134, recorded two years ago.
o Prices have on average risen by 4.1 per cent in the past 12 months. The average price of dinner for one at establishments listed in the guide is £36.82. Prices are soaring away at the capital's top-end (£50+ a head) restaurants, where bills are 5.7 per cent higher year-on-year. As a result, the £100-a-head dinner is now quite common.
o Restaurateurs continue to look East: eight of London's Top 40 most talked-about restaurants are now subcontinental or Asian.
o The 'grazing' tendency for sushi, dim sum, tapas and so on has intensified.
o There is a rapid growth of Latin American options.
Please see the Schedules:
(I) Survey winners and losers
Photographs of Bruce Poole and of Chez Bruce are available on request.
Notes to editors
1. Harden's London Restaurants 2006 (£10.99) is published on 31 August. It is available from all good bookshops, or www.hardens.com. Harden's, established by brothers Richard and Peter Harden in 1991, is the UK's only specialist publisher of restaurant and hotel guides based on a structured programme of consumer surveys.
2. Harden's survey is conducted in association with Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac. Other Harden's publications include Harden's UK Restaurants, which will be published in association with Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac in October.Schedule I
Survey winners and losers
Rankings are in descending order of votes in the respective categories (last year's position in brackets).Top gastronomic experience
For information on any apparent 'contradictions' between lists, please see Schedule II (last item).Schedule II
Harden's survey - FAQs
Q. Who are Harden's reporters?
A. Harden's reporter mailing list is some 50,000 strong. It has grown mainly 'organically' by people writing in or registering on the wesbite. At various times there have also been newspaper promotions (such as with the Observer and Telegraph), which have brought new names onto the list. Reporters are drawn from many occupations: from students and secretaries to High Court judges and CEOs. Many work in the media, law, education and finance. Their average age is 43.
Q. To what extent do the grades in the guide reflect the editors' opinions?
A. So far as the top 600 most commented-on restaurants are concerned -- which include all those establishments in which the media are generally interested -- the ratings in the guide are strictly statistically derived from the survey results. The write-ups of such restaurants reflect the conclusion determined by the statistics.
With the lesser-commented-on 'tail' of entries, a little more editorial discretion is allowed in interpreting the survey. The Editors' aim, however, is to interpret the feedback as neutrally as possible. Where the Editors express personal views (which is rare), they state this.
Q. Don't people try to stuff the ballot?
A. The survey is so large (and its participant base so well-established) that it is very difficult to influence the results to any material extent without it being self-evident. Harden's has various procedures in place to catch fraud and removes suspicious contributions from the analysis.
Q. If a restaurant appears on the 'Top gastronomic experience' list and also the 'Most disappointing' list, is there a contradiction?
A. The Top 10 lists are based purely on the number of votes restaurants attract in a particular survey category. Just because one person votes a place as their 'Top gastronomic experience' doesn't mean someone else won't vote it their 'Most disappointing' meal. Restaurants generating a large volume of feedback may -- if opinion about them is divided -- gather enough votes in both categories to appear on both lists. By definition, restaurants which attract notably mixed opinions will not deserve the most positive reviews.
- End of schedules -