Harden's survey result
For 25 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. This year diners have submitted over 60,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK.
“Amazingly delicate” Japanese/South American fusion fare “made with precision” and “packed with flavour” ensures Mayfair’s second branch of this global franchise is “always popular and sometimes very busy”. But numerous sceptics feel it “trades on its reputation and celebrity status” – “despite the work that goes into the food, and the fancy schmancy location, prices are insane”, especially as “the dining room is quite rowdy, and service perfunctory”.
“Expensive but amazing” sushi and other “fabulous” fusion fare underpins support for this large, showy Mayfair Japanese; it can seem “impersonal” and “charmless” however, and sceptics say it’s overrun by a “selfie-stick clientele” nowadays.
“Lovely sushi” and other “superb” Japanese-fusion dishes still win praise for this “busy” Mayfair rendezvous, despite its “rushed” service and “horrible” prices; really, though, this is a place you go “to see and be seen”.
The younger, showier (and nowadays better-known) of the two London outposts of the glamorous Japanese-fusion brand; it still offers “superlative” sushi and “great people-watching”, but critics find it “extremely overpriced” for what it is.
Nobu Berkeley W1
It's old rich people who keep top restaurants going. Right? Not on the basis of a visit to Mayfair's new £80-a-head Nobu Berkeley, where your reviewing team (average age 42) were very amongst the more senior citizens present.
Are we just getting on a bit? Did that explain why the noisy 'cavern' of a bar/holding area (there's no booking for smaller parties) seemed a glamour-free zone? Is it why the waitress's uniforms seemed a bit too tarty? Is it now the done thing for chaps in the gents to juggle a mobile in one hand and a Blackberry in the other as they answer nature's call? Is it asking too much in a new, aspiring-to-be-A-list haunt to expect a table with a non-wobbling top?
Having complained about the table, we were found a seat at the sushi bar (where the full menu is also available), and we contemplated the David Collins interior in the first-floor dining room. Perhaps de Niro and pals just didn't want to pay for anything more than a slightly glossier Wagamama. Boy do they pack in those bare little wooden tables.
Mark Edwards, launch chef of the Park Lane original, was much in evidence, and the food - from a similar enormous and bewildering menu - did (to be fair) do justice to the lustrous reputation of what's now quite a large (15 branches) international chain. The Japanese-with-a-latin-twist dishes sizzled with flavour.
As ever, though, portions are dinky, and its easy to start obsessing on the price per mouthful. And - as the Mayfair original - it's not as though the rest of experience offers much compensation. Or maybe we're just too unhip to 'get it'. Or perhaps we should have been delighted at how unstuffy top gastronomy has become'
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lunch noon - 2.15 pm, dinner 6 pm - 1.30 am
Last orders: 11 pm, Thu-Sat midnight, Sun 9.45 pm