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London Restaurant Prices Jump 11%, Biggest Gain in Two Decades

Diners enjoying a meal at Dinner, in London, U.K., on Dec. 12, 2010. Chef Heston Blumenthal's restaurant features an open kitchen. Source: Ann Scott Associates via Bloomberg

The cost of dinner for two in London has surged 11 percent over the past year -- the biggest gain in more than two decades -- and now exceeds 90 pounds ($148) for the first time, the publishers of a restaurant guide said today.

The price is based on the average cost of a three-course meal, including wine, coffee and service at the 1,900 venues listed in “Harden’s London Restaurants 2012.” Dinner for one sneaks in at a handy 45.01 pounds, they said.

“In the 21 years we have followed the restaurant scene, we’ve never seen annual inflation anywhere near 10 percent,” Peter Harden, co-editor of the guide, said today in an e-mailed release. He blamed higher food costs and a tax increase.

The standard rate of Value Added Tax jumped to 20 percent from 17.5 percent on Jan. 4. Excluding VAT, prices have gone up by 4.5 percent in each of the past two years, Harden said.

The number of restaurants opening over the past 12 months fell to 107 from 140. That’s the lowest since 2000, when the figure was 102. There were 72 closures, in the lower half of the range -- 64 to 87 -- that has prevailed each year since 2005.

Harden and his brother Richard name their Top 10 favorite new establishments (in alphabetical order) as: Brawn; Les Deux Salons; Dinner by Heston Blumenthal; Galoupet; Hedone; Medlar; Pollen Street Social; Riding House Cafe; Roganic; Yashin.

Chef Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social was last week named London’s best new restaurant by “The Good Food Guide 2012,” followed by Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

“Harden’s London Restaurants 2012” will be published on Sept. 1.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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