London restaurant scene recovering, reports Zagat

13 September 2012 by
London restaurant scene recovering, reports Zagat

The London restaurant scene is showing signs of recovery after diners said that it was better than last year and they were spending more, according to the most recent Zagat survey.

Despite tough economic conditions, the 2013 Zagat London Restaurant Survey found that 40% of diners felt that eating out in the capital had improved on last year, compared with just 3% who felt it was worse.

Chris Corbin and Jeremy King's Piccadilly restaurant the Wolseley (pictured) was voted London's most popular restaurant for the second year running and the iconic Waterside Inn topped the food list with a near perfect score of 29 out of 30.

Simon Rogan's Roganic scooped the top spot for service and was also the highest rated newcomer in the food category, placed at five.

Spanish tapas restaurant Barrafina in Covent Garden saw a particularly marked improvement in its food rating, jumping from 48th place last year to take the fourth spot.

The number of new restaurant openings rose, with many - including Dabbous, Pizarro, Pitt Cue Co, Burger & Lobster and Wolfgang Puck's Cut at 45 Park Lane - receiving high ratings in their first year.

Japanese casual dining group Wagamama was named the most popular chain restaurant, followed by PizzaExpress and Nando's, after Zagat highlighted chains in their own list this year.

Italian was found to be the most popular cuisine (25%) followed closely by French (17%) and Japanese (14%), while only one in 10 diners named British cuisine as their favourite.

Locally sourced, organic and sustainably produced food continue to be a key trends, with 73% of diners saying they are important to their choice of restaurant and 56% prepared to pay more for such ingredients.

Food hygiene was another dominant concern for London diners. Tim Zagat, co-chair of the Zagat, said: "A staggering 71% of surveyors said that restaurants should be required to post results of their inspections in their windows.

"These two survey results send a clear message to the industry that Londoners are placing ever more importance on the sources of their food and hygiene standards."

As more and more London restaurants forgo a reservations system in favour of a first come first served seating policy, 61% of diners in the capital said they are not willing to wait more than 30 minutes for a table.

Service was found to be the number one complaint for 73% of those surveyed, which is reflected in the overall results for London restaurants on the Zagat 30-point scale. They scored 14 for hospitality and 13 for table availability against overall ratings of 25 and 22 for culinary diversity and creativity respectively.

"London consistently amazes us with the increased creativity and diversity of its restaurants," said Nina Zagat, co-chair of Zagat. "The one thing that needs more attention is how to improve service."

Zagat Top Tens (last year's figure)

Favourite independent restaurant
1. Wolseley (1)
2. Hakkasan (7)
3. Le Gavroche (9)
4. Ivy (5)
5. River Café (11)
6. Ledbury (10)
7. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (2)
8. J. Sheekey (3)
9. Dinner by Heston (-)
10. Gordon Ramsay at Claridges (6)

Top food
1. Waterside Inn (6)
2. Dinings (3)
3. Le Gavroche (5)
4. Barrafina (48)
5. Roganic (-)
6. Petrus (-)
7. Ledbury (1)
8. Gordon Ramsay/68 (8)
9. Yashin Sushi (-)
10. Square (9)

Favourite chain
1. Wagamama
2. PizzaExpress
3. Nando's
4. Gaucho
5. Café Rouge
6. Zizzi
7. Jamie's Italian
8. Busaba Eathai
9. Wahaca
10. Gourmet Burger

Best by cuisine
1. American - Burger & Lobster
2. BBQ (international) - Pitt Cue Co.
3. British (modern) - Roganic
4. British (traditional) - Wilton's
5. Chinese - Hunan
6. Chophouses - Hawksmoor
7. Eclectic - Viajante
8. European (modern) - La Trompette
9. Fish and chips - North Sea
10. French (bistro) - Brula
11. French (brasserie) - Angelus
12. French (classic) - Waterside Inn
13. French (new) - Petrus
14. Indian - Babur
15. Italian - River Café
16. Japanese - Dinings
17. Lebanese - Ishbilia
18. Mediterranean - French Table
19. Mexican - Tortilla
20. Pizza - Portobello Ristorante
21. Seafood - Wilton's
22. Spanish - Barrafina
23. Thai - Pepper Tree
24. Vegetarian - Chutneys

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