Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes's new venture Viajante is the best new restaurant in London, according to the 2011 Harden's restaurant guide.
The new edition of Harden's London Restaurants, which is published today, has awarded its Rémy Martin VSOP Award for London's Best Newcomer of the Year to Mendes, who is famed for his experimental cuisine and who launched Viajante at the Town Hall Hotel & Apartments development in Bethnal Green in April.
Mendes told Caterersearch he was surprised and thrilled to have won the award. "It's great to win this so shortly after opening. We're a bit off the beaten track and are doing something very different to other fine dining restaurants in London so it's fantastic to be recognised," he said.
The Harden's survey, which questioned more than 8,000 regular restaurant goers, praised Mendes's experimental culinary style for its "amazing food combinations" which "offer sheer pleasure all the way". The restaurant beat other high profile openings including Phil Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas's Kitchen W8 and Bistrot Bruno Loubet at the Zetter Hotel.
Meanwhile Marcus Wareing's two-Michelin-starred eponymous restaurant at the Berkeley hotel was the big winner in the Harden's guide, retaining the title of the Rémy Martin XO Best Overall Restaurant award. Wareing picked up the award for London's Best Chef for the third consecutive year and won the Rémy Martin Coeur de Cognac award for Best Dessert for his warm chocolate moelleux, salted caramel; and the Best Meal of the Year award.
The Michelin-starred Chez Bruce remains London's favourite restaurant for the sixth consecutive year, while the Anchor & Hope has again been voted as the Best Pub.
Peter Harden, co-editor of the survey, pointed out that the absence in the top 10 of London's three-Michelin-starred restaurants, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, pointed to Michelin's award having "as much to do with celebrity as quality".
"At least the top award for Gordon Ramsay might be explained away as a lag in downgrading a restaurant which our survey did - until a couple of years ago - show to be the best in London for over a decade," he said.
"With Ducasse's establishment, however, practically all third-party opinion has always been so out of step with Michelin's grade that the inescapable impression is that the organisation is more concerned with the name over the door than the quality on the plate. If that is the case, it is not really clear what the point of the Michelin awards is."
Rémy Martin XO Award for best all-round restaurant
1 Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley
2 Le Gavroche
3 La Trompette
4 The Ledbury
5 Chez Bruce
6= The Square
6= Oslo Court
6= The Ritz
9 Pied à Terre
Remy Martin VSOP Award for best-rated newcomer
4 Kitchen W8
5 Bistrot Bruno Loubet
Rémy Martin Coeur de Cognac award for Best Dessert
1 Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley - Warm chocolate moelleux, salted caramel
2 The Ivy - Baked Alaska with griotte cherries
3 Chez Bruce - Cheeseboard
4 Murano - Pistachio soufflé with warm chocolate sauce
5= Le Caprice - Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce
5= Maze - Peanut butter & cherry jam sandwich
Best Meal of the Year: Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley
Favourite Restaurant: Chez Bruce
Best for Business: The Wolseley
Best Bar/Pub Food: The Anchor & Hope
Best Breakfast/Brunch: The Wolseley
Best for Romance: La Poule au Pot
Most Disappointing Cooking: Oxo Tower
Most Overpriced Restaurant: Oxo Tower
By Kerstin Kühn
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