• Harden’s London Guide: record openings but closures rack up

    Internationally the London restaurant scene is now widely recognised as being amongst the best in the world. If not the best. It is certainly the most competitive, according to the latest Harden’s Guide, which reveals a record breaking number of openings, matched only by one of the highest number of closures in the last year.

    Internationally the London restaurant scene is now widely recognised as being amongst the best in the world. If not the best. It is certainly the most competitive, according to the latest Harden’s Guide, which reveals a record breaking number of openings, matched only by one of the highest number of closures in the last year.

    mm By November 23, 2016

    With so much competition you have to be brave to open a new restaurant in London. But, as the latest Harden’s Guide proves, there are more people than ever willing to give it a go.

    hardens

    For restaurateurs operating in London it must sometimes feel like going back to Dickensian time. For it really is both the best and worst of times.

    On the one hand there has never been more new restaurants open in the last 12 months. The latest Harden’s London Restaurants guide, published today, reveals new restaurants opened at a faster rate in the capital in the last year than they have at any time previously recorded. With some 200 newcomers featured in what is its 26th edition. That tops the 179 new openings recorded in 2015.

    But as one door opens, another shuts. For good. With 76 restaurants also closing in 2016, the third highest in the guide’s history and significantly up on last year’s 56.

    In reality the net gain of new restaurants comes down to 124, which is just one more than in the previous year. The ratio of openings to closings (2.6:1) also declined quite significantly on last year’s figure (3.2:1), which was the 2nd highest in the last quarter century.

    So whilst Londoners have never had more choice of where to eat out, previous favourites are closing, and the competition and need for newcomers to find their feet fast has never been more acute.

    Peter Harden, the guide’s co-founder, said: “Londoners are in a true golden age of dining out, as this year’s record openings show. But, as many restaurateurs will tell you (and as these figures bear out), competition, heightened by the sheer weight of new restaurants, is increasing and starting to risk an oversupply, as shown by the rising number of closures.”

    We are also still living in a false honeymoon period, post the EU referendum, and what the restaurant and hospitality sectors fear could be an extremely difficult time once we fully Brexit from the EU.

    Harden explained: “Given a gestation period of nine months or more for any given opening, these figures don’t reflect any post-Brexit robustness. Our view is that Brexit poses a high risk to the restaurant trade, which – like the rest of the hospitality industry – is terrified about staff recruitment with tougher immigration rules.”

    The expected on-going rise in food and drink prices, as a result of a weak pound, will also become a bigger issue in the year ahead.

    The guide finds that the average price of dinner for one in the restaurants listed is £51.37, up from £50.51 last year, a rise of 1.7%. Whilst this continues a three-year trend of a slowing rate of price rises, they are higher than inflation.

    Premium Indian restaurants like Darbaar have been a key trend in the last year
    Premium Indian restaurants like Darbaar have been a key trend in the last year

    East London is very much where the new restaurant scene is, accounting for three quarters of new restaurants. With two outlets achieving the guide’s top 5/5 rating for “outstanding” value: Pidgin and Som Saa. Whilst Canto Corvino, Oklava, Darbaar, Gunpowder, Galvin HOP and Anglo all received a 4/5 rating for value of cuisine.

    Big winners

    Lunch at Chez Bruce...just the average week for Bill Knott

    • Chez Bruce was named favourite London restaurant for the 12th year running, another scoop for founder Bruce Poole who received a Lifetime Acheivement award from Harden’s in its first London awards earlier in the year.
    •  The Araki, run by three-Michelin-star chef, Mitsuhiro Araki, scored the highest average food rating as well as being given the accolade of most expensive UK restaurant.

    • The Ledbury and chef Brett Graham secured the highest number of votes for being where Harden’s reviewers had their “Top Gastronomic Experience”.

    • Anchor & Hope  was named London’s top pub, also for the 12th year in succession.

    •  Gelupo, Kappacasein, The Rib Man, Smokestaak, Yum Bun, all achieved the survey’s top 5/5 rating for food at a formula price of below £10

    Top 10 Most Mentioned by Harden’s reviewers 

    • J Sheekey
    • Clos Maggiore
    • Le Gavroche
    • Chez Bruce
    • The Ledbury
    • Scott’s
    • Gymkhana
    • The Wolseley
    • Brasserie Zedel
    • The Cinnamon Club

    Top 10 Gastronomic Experience

    • The Ledbury
    • The Gavroche
    • Chez Bruce
    • Fera at Claridge’s
    • Gauthier Soho
    • Pollen Street Social
    • Pied a Terre
    • La Trompette
    • The River Café
    • Story

    Favourite

    • Chez Bruce
    • Le Gavroche
    • The Ledbury
    • J Sheekey
    • Gauthier Soho
    • Moro
    • The Wolseley
    • La Trompette
    • Medlar
    • River Café

    The Harden’s guide is based on ratings and reviews of 7,500 people who helped contribute 50,000 reports for the 2017 edition. You can publish a guide here. 

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *