The average price of dinner for one in the capital has risen 6.3% to £59.28 in the past 12 months, according to Harden’s London Restaurants 2020.
The spike is the biggest in the guide’s 29-year history, if 2012's VAT correction (when Gordon Brown increased VAT to 20%) is removed from the figures, the publishers said.
The guide, which received 50,000 reviews from 7,500 restaurant goers, found that, despite the rise in price of the average meal, the restaurant sector was in reasonable health. Net openings were up 28% on the previous year, with 174 openings and 110 closures.
Those openings were largely targeted in central London (82 newcomers), with East London’s growth slowing, having recorded 27 openings in the period.
In a good year for recognition of female chefs, the top gastronomic experience featured in Harden’s London Restaurants 2020 was Core by Clare Smyth (pictured), the highest-rated for food was the Five Fields and the highest rated for overall experience was Pied à Terre.
Newcomer of the year was Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari’s Caractère, which was described as providing “a fabulous all-round experience”, while the Harwood Arms took the title of best London gastropub.
The River Café was named most overpriced restaurant for the second year running, with one contributor commenting: “The food is delectable. But let’s be honest: we have many excellent Mediterranean restaurants all across town nowadays, and a grilled piece of fish, a slice of lemon tart, and a glass of Vermentino isn’t really worth half-a-week’s wages.”
The guide's co-founder, Peter Harden, said: "Any book on entrepreneurialism will tell you that just to stand still it is necessary for any business constantly to reinvent itself. That is ever-more the case in the London restaurant scene, where any site that is not performing at its peak will quickly be reformatted under the same brand or a new one.
"The good news is that London’s restaurateurs are a much more formidable bunch than when this guide was first published. The last three decades have seen an incredible rise in the professionalism of the trade. Opportunities continue to present themselves to those with witty new formats or sufficient passion to excel at the old ones."