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Restaurant scene booming in London

18 August 2005

Restaurants are opening in London at an unprecedented rate and charging more than ever, according to the latest edition of Harden's London Restaurants guide.

It records 142 new restaurant openings over the past 12 months, with venues at the capital's top bracket (£50-plus per head) hiking prices by 5.7% year-on-year.

Co-editor Richard Harden said this number of openings showed signs of "a real breakthrough" in a market that had been fairly flat.

The last time there was a significant increase in openings was between the 2003 and 2004 guides, when numbers leapt from 121 to 134.

The new guide not only points to new openings, but an increase in prices, particularly at top-end restaurants, whose prices have risen by 5.7% - nearly three times faster than consumer inflation.

There are now four venues in London - Blakes, Le Gavroche, Sketch and Umu - where a standard dinner is £100 a head or more.

"Despite the current tough times for retailers, it would seem there are still plenty of people able and willing to eat out without too much concern about rising menu prices," said Harden. "The top end of the market in particular is flourishing. This is evidenced both by the growing number of top-end restaurants and by the way in which existing restaurants have been able to hike their prices, in some cases significantly."

Overall, restaurant prices in London rose by 4.1% during the year, with the average cost of a dinner for one in the capital amounting to £36.82.

Harden's also notes a drop in the number of restaurant closures over the past 12 months. While 82 restaurants shut down between the 2004 and 2005 editions, only 67 shut between the 2005 and 2006 guides.

Notable disappearances over the past 12 months included East@West in the West End, Oliver Peyton's Isola in Knightsbridge, Haymarket's Osia, Anthony Demetre's acclaimed Putney Bridge and the relocated Thyme in Covent Garden.

Celebrated openings include Amaya in Belgravia, Automat in Mayfair, the Ledbury in Notting Hill, Nobu Berkeley in Mayfair and restaurant-cum-delis Otto Lenghi in Notting Hill and Islington.

Openings record

  • 2001: 120

  • 2002: 131

  • 2003: 121

  • 2004: 134

  • 2005: 133

  • 2006: 142

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