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Who created it and why?

In 1991, Richard and Peter Harden quit their sensible jobs in finance to start the guide. The spur was their belief that “London needed a truly useful restaurant guide”. The brothers added a UK guide in 1998. For the last seven years, their guides have been sponsored by Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac.

Whose opinions is the guide based on?

According to Harden’s, the guide is based on the UK’s only detailed national annual survey of restaurant-goers. For the latest guide, over 8000 people contributed more than 85,000 reports. Participants vote on where they had their best meal of the year, worst meal, and so on (and give brief reports on the restaurants concerned). The ratings and reviews in the guide reflect a statistical analysis of these votes plus ratings for food, service and ambience awarded by those taking part in the survey, who the guide calls its “reporters”.

In what way is the Harden’s restaurant survey different from websites publishing user-opinions?

The Harden’s methodology claims its strength from its system of analysing responses from lots of people to provide an overall verdict that’s as clear and representative as possible, rather than just publishing a mish-mash of competing views.

I’ve heard it’s a guide that likes to be controversial?

Some restaurateurs and chefs have accused the guide of promoting itself through eye-catching headlines. The brothers counter by asking whether they are supposed to hamstring their launch by picking their survey’s least newsworthy results.

So do the opinions in the guide differ greatly from inspector-driven guides?

The brothers say that – despite their reputation for controversy – what’s striking about their guide’s reviews is that they agree with the “experts” much more often than they disagree. Michelin’s top restaurants, for example, tend to correspond closely with those selected by the Harden’s survey. The main difference from traditional sources, the brothers claim, is that their reporters are not as dazzled by the auras of “celebrity” chefs.

All Harden’s restaurant reviews and ratings can be found on the Harden’s website,



(Position last year in brackets)

Top gastronomic experience

1.   Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley (3)
2.   Chez Bruce (2)
3.   Le Gavroche (4)
4.   Gordon Ramsay (1)
5.   La Trompette (5)
6.   maze (9)
7.   L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (7)
8.   The Ledbury (-)
9.   The Square (-)
10. Murano*


1.   Chez Bruce (1)
2.   Le Caprice (2)
3.   J Sheekey (3)
4 = The Wolseley (5)
4 = The Ivy (6)
6.   La Trompette (4)
7.   Galvin Bistrot de Luxe (9)
8.   Scott’s (-)
9.   Moro (7)
10. St John (-)

Most disappointing cooking

1.  Oxo Tower (1)
2.  The Ivy (2)
3.  Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s (3)
4.  Gordon Ramsay(7)
5.  The Wolseley (4)
6.  Corrigan’s Mayfair*
7.  Cipriani (9)
8.  Le Café Anglais (5)
9.  The Warrington (-)
10. Maze (-)

Rémy Martin VSOP Award

Best-rated Newcomer


1. Murano
2. Min Jiang
3. Soseki
4. Bull &Last
5. Trishna


Recent Harden’s-related articles on

Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett picks up two new awards >> 

Food festival to rival Edinburgh >> 

The Spaghetti Tree – Book Review >>

Recent Harden’s-related articles on the Web

Marcus Wareing may have fallen out with Gordon Ramsay, but he now runs London’s best restaurant >> 

When Hix met Hoppy >> 

Staff fear lower wages as restaurateur scraps 12.5% service charge >>

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