• Fraiche in Oxton tops Harden’s 100
• 1 in 10 of Harden’s 100 restaurants are Indian
• Kent is top county for high quality dining
• North West strongest dining region after South East
• Edinburgh is second restaurant city
A chef who closed his restaurant last year only to re-open it months later has been crowned the UK’s #1 Restaurant in our diners poll.
Harden’s Best UK Restaurants 2020 (ISBN: 978-1916076112, price £16.99) – out now! – is based on 50,000 reports from a survey of 7,500 diners and places Marc Wilkinson’s 14-seater Fraiche, near Birkenhead, at the top of its ‘Harden’s 100’ list of the UK’s top dining destinations.
At the start of 2019, Wilkinson had planned to move to Liverpool and double in size, but soon decided against becoming less hands-on, commenting in March 2019 to the Liverpool Echoon his decision to maintain his site of 15 years standing:
“For good or bad, you get 100% of me – the decor is me, the visuals are me, the music is me. I care, I guess – it’s a passion.”
Fraiche was amongst the North West’s tally of 10 entries in the Harden’s 100: the highest of any region outside the South East and London, and with five of them in the Top 20 including Manchester Mana (3) and Adam Reid at The French (19); Aughton’s Moor Hall (5); and Cartmel’s L’Enclume (12).
Non-native, as well as British cuisine, is well-represented in the Harden’s 100, with 10 of the entries featuring Indian cuisine, 6 Japanese; and with Chinese and Scandinavian restaurants accounting for 3 apiece. This is in stark contrast to the lists produced by many other UK guides: for example, The Good Food Guide’s Top 50 Restaurants which includes zero Indian or Japanese establishments and a single Chinese one; or Square Meal’s UK Top 100, which includes two Indian establishments, and zero Japanese or Chinese representatives.
London restaurants accounted for 41 of the Harden’s 100 with 59 entries outside the capital. Amongst counties, Kent put in an unusually strong performance with five of the Harden’s 100 restaurants from the area.
Looking at the wider picture beyond the elite of the Harden’s 100, Edinburgh regained its position as Britain’s No 2. restaurant city outside London, judged both in terms of the total number of entries in the guide (60) and in terms of the total number of top-scoring entries (20) for any single city (a top scorer is defined as any restaurant scoring the top 5/5 mark for food, plus those charging over £60 per head scoring 4/5).
For general quality, the other top-scoring cities were Brighton (10), Birmingham and Glasgow (8 apiece), Manchester (7) and York (5) – the latter continuing to punch well above its weight as one of the country’s top dining cities. (Bath, Bristol and Cambridge score 4 apiece).
Oxford and Leeds are cities which have large restaurant scenes (with a total of 25 and 24 entries respectively), but which are under-weight for top-scorers with just 2 and 1 respectively.
Co-founder Peter Harden commented:
“This is an exciting time for the quality UK restaurant scene, with a feeling that expectations amongst diners continues to rise ever higher and a sense that the trade is rising to the challenge of meeting those expectations.
For many years now it has felt hard to keep up with the pace of change and innovation amidst the capital’s ever-changing restaurant scene, and this dynamism seems now to be ever-more widespread beyond the borders of the capital.”
Harden’s 100 – Top UK Restaurants
The top 100 restaurants derived from the 50,000 reports with ratings submitted by 7,500 diners who contributed to the Harden’s annual survey.
Harden’s 100 by cuisine
|Fish & Seafood||4|
Coverage by Region & County
|East of England||4||18||125|
|Tyne and Wear||1||4||32|
|Isle of Wight||0||1||2|
|City of Bristol||1||4||32|
|Yorkshire & The Humber||7||26||122|
|Isle of Anglesey||0||0||2|
|Vale of Glamorgan||0||1||3|
|Argyll and Bute||0||4||10|
|City of Edinburgh||3||20||64|
|City of Glasgow||0||8||23|
|Dumfries and Galloway||0||1||1|
|Perth and Kinross||1||3||8|
Coverage by UK City (by total number of entries)
• London is ranked first.
|Newcastle upon Tyne||23||10=||24||8|
High Quality Restaurants By UK City (by number of top scorers)
• London is ranked first
• A “Top scorer” is any restaurant scoring 5/5 (excellent) for food, or any restaurant above £60/head scoring 4/5 (very good) for food.
|Bury St Edmunds||3||11=||1||3||12=|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||3||11=||1||3||12=|
Detailed Coverage by Region
Click on the thumbnail to download a detailed report of coverage per region.