London: A Record-Breaking Year For Restaurant Openings

photo from Bao London Facebook
photo from Bao London Facebook

The Brits must have heard of their unfavorable reputation for food, because according to Harden’s London Restaurant Guide London has seen a record breaking 179 restaurant openings over the past year. That means a new restaurant opened practically every other day. Compared to only 56 closures, it is an exciting time to be in the London culinary scene.

While British cuisine is not greatly represented in these new arrivals, the rate and variety of openings further establishes London as a global destination for dining out. Funnily enough 10% of these new establishments serve Japanese food, matched only by new Italian eats. These two cuisines have the highest number of new restaurants this year.

Some of this year’s most notable launches included Richard Caring’s Ivy Chelsea Garden, American import Smith & Wollensky, and the trendy Taiwanese Bao. While these three spots reside in London’s west side, 2015 showed a continuous migration towards east. This year twice as many restaurants opened in east London than in west. In Harden’s London Restaurant Guide‘s first year in 1990, there were only six restaurants with an E postcode.

But the guide cautions: “With such vitality, however, comes a dilemma. Restaurants which once would have seemed outstanding nowadays seem commonplace. The bar is higher and higher; the challenge to stand out from the crowd tougher and tougher.”

Peter Harden, co-founder of the Harden’s London Restaurant Guide, also said: “The growth of London’s restaurant scene is jaw-dropping in comparison to its recent past, never mind the ‘Dark Ages’ in which we founded our guide 25 years ago. It is wonderful to be celebrating the guide’s silver anniversary in what is a golden age for restaurant goers.”

With so many new spots, you’d imagine plate pricing to be quite competitive. On the contrary, over the past year prices have increased by 2.1% with the average check going up from £40.46 to £50.51 a head. The Araki, earned ‘the most expensive’ title on the list while Le Gavroche was voted London’s “top gastronomic experience,” and in Wandsworth was named “London’s favorite restaurant.”

Just some food for thought, based on The Standard.

photo from Smith + Wollenskys London Facebook
photo from Smith + Wollensky’s London Facebook