The results are now in from our annual survey of restaurant-goers – one of the most comprehensive in the UK – and we can reveal which London restaurants are hot (and which are not). This year saw unprecedented growth in the net number of new restaurants opening in the capital (101), beating the previous 2006 record (75) and further cementing London’s reputation as the greatest dining city in the world. The new edition records 148 new openings, very high by historical standards, and just 47 closures, the lowest this millennium.
East London continues to emerge as a major dining destination, with three of the guide’s most notable 2014 newcomers opening in Bethnal Green (The Typing Room) and Shoreditch (Lyle’s and Merchant’s Tavern). And the trend for alternatively funded restaurants is reflected by pop-up-turned-permanent restaurant Kurobuta, also high on our notable newcomers list. There are thousands of restaurants in London, but Harden’s in depth analysis of over 65,000 reports from 6,250 people can tell you which are worth a visit…
Winners & losers in the 2015 survey of restaurant-goers
Brett Graham further consolidated his position as LondonÊ¼s best chef as The Ledbury won the coveted title of Ê»Top Gastronomic ExperienceÊ¼ for the first time, as well as topping the food rankings.
Chez Bruce, the neighbourhood restaurant that continues to transcend its somewhat obscure location, was – for the 10th year running – voted LondonÊ¼s Favourite Restaurant, marking an incredible double for restaurateur Nigel Platts-Marin who is also the backer of The Ledbury.
Simon RoganÊ¼s relaunch of ClaridgeÊ¼s dining room – Fera at ClaridgeÊ¼s – was the highest rated newcomer of the year, going straight in at number four in the overall rankings (for food, service and ambience). The chefÊ¼s first major foray into London (after his pop-up Roganic last year) has won high praise for its “phenomenal” meals – which are “so different” to the usual dining scene – and “gloriously attentive” service.
It continues to be a great year for Gymkhana as Harden’s reporters heap more praise on the lauded nouvelle Indian. The yearling is already LondonÊ¼s 12th most talked about restaurant thanks to its “sensationally subtle” cuisine.
Jason Atherton continues to be the surest bet when it comes to finding a quality meal at a celebrity chefÊ¼s sprawling restaurant empire. While others have felt the strain of expansion, Atherton continues to knock out hit after hit, notably opening City Social and backing Lee Westcott at The Typing Room this year – an admirable replacement for Bethnal Green’s Viajante.
By contrast, appearing on the Most Disappointing Cooking list for the first time is Ollie DabbousÊ¼s eponymous flagship, Dabbous (10). It appears alongside Marcus WareingÊ¼s relaunched Marcus at the Berkeley (8) and Heston BlumenthalÊ¼s hotel dining room, Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental (2). Ratings at all these restaurants softened this year, and Ollie Dabbous and Marcus Waring also notched up nothing-to-write-home-about performances at their spin-off ventures, Barnyard and The Gilbert Scott respectively.
Meanwhile the chef behind Viajante, Nuno Mendes – who arguably put Bethnal Green on the culinary map – moved west to the Chiltern Firehouse and became an instant celebrity darling. But while it may be an “amazing” room the HardenÊ¼s survey finds the food is actually pretty “meh” at Andre BalazsÊ¼s hotel where “poseurs and paparazzi abound”.
After his disappearance from the Top 10 gastronomic experience list last year, Gordon Ramsay mounted something of a comeback. His flagship Royal Hospital Road restaurant (helmed by Clare Smyth) has returned to the list (at 7).
Once again Oxo Tower retains its unenviable status as the home of LondonÊ¼s Most Disappointing Cooking, but for the first time in 15 years it has escaped a double on the “lists of shame”! When it comes to the Most Overpriced Restaurant List, for the first time, The River CafeÌ, has the dubious honour of taking up that mantle!
Prices in line with inflation
The average price of dinner for one at establishments listed in this guide is £49.46 (compared to £47.68 last year). Prices have risen by 2.7% in the past 12 months. This is a little less than last yearÊ¼s rise, and broadly in line with inflation as recorded by the Retail Price Index.
Top 10 most notable newcomers
Every year the HardenÊ¼s editors choose what to them seem to be the most significant openings of the year.
The Typing Room
The New Angel
Fera at Claridge’s
To keep up to date with all the latest London goings-on and news from across the country sign up for our free newsletter. You can follow us on Twitter @HardensBites, like us on Facebook and pin us on Pinterest.