Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was today named London’s best new restaurant by the Zagat Guide, beating competition from other leading chefs in a year when the cost of eating out jumped 6.3 percent, the most in a decade.
Gordon Ramsay Restaurant lost the top place for popularity, beaten by the Wolseley, which came third last year and also leapfrogged J Sheekey. The Ledbury held onto the title as best for food, which it took from Gordon Ramsay last year.
The cost of a meal for one rose to 43.40 pounds ($68.68) from 40.84 pounds a year earlier, yet diners ate out more often, doing so an average 2.4 times a week, compared with 2.2 times. That’s the first increase in three years. Tim Zagat, who heads the guide, said there was still value to be found.
“Having observed London dining for many years, it is clear that there has never been a better time to eat out,” Zagat, chief executive of New York-based Zagat Survey, said today in an e-mailed release. “Almost every neighborhood has a wealth of choices for great food at excellent prices.”
Google Inc. acquired Zagat Survey last week, adding features designed to boost advertising revenue from local businesses. Mountain View, California-based Google, the world’s largest Internet-search company, announced the purchase on Sept. 9 and didn’t disclose terms of the transaction.
Zagat’s findings follow the release last month of the London-based Harden’s Guide, which also named the Ledbury best for food. The Ledbury’s chef is Newcastle, Australian-born Brett Graham. During riots last month, the restaurant was attacked by robbers, who were repelled by staff.
(Harden’s said the cost of a meal for two in restaurants in its guide jumped 11 percent to more than 90 pounds.)
Blumenthal’s best-newcomer award looked like a triumph over chef Jason Atherton, who opened Pollen Street Social this year. Zagat said after the announcment this morning that Pollen Street Social was too late to be included. Atherton beat Blumenthal in the Good Food Guide last month.
Most Popular (last year): 1. Wolseley (3) 2. Gordon Ramsay/68 Royal (1) 3. J. Sheekey (2) 4. Nobu London (8) 5. Ivy (7) 6. Gordon Ramsay/ Claridge’s (5) 7. Hakkasan (6) 8. Wagamama (4) 9. Le Gavroche (10) 10. Ledbury (26) Top Food (last year): 1. Ledbury (1) 2. Pied a Terre (13) 3. Dinings (7) 4. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (9) 5. Le Gavroche (12) 6. Waterside Inn (11) 7. Hunan (28) 8. Gordon Ramsay/68 Royal (2) 9. Square (8) 10. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (-) Top Newcomers (Rated) 1. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (27) 2. Koffmann’s (26) 3. Tinello (24) 4. Savoy Grill (23) = Dishoom Top Service 1. Waterside Inn (4) 2. Ledbury (7) 3. Mark’s Club (1) 4. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (8) 5. Gordon Ramsay (3) Top Decor (last year) 1. Sketch/Lecture Room (6) 2. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (5) 3. Mark’s Club (4) 4. Ritz (1) 5. Sketch/ Parlour (-) Best Buys (last year) 1. Chilango (1) 2. Franco Manca (2) 3. Golden Hind (7) 4. Benito’s Hat (3) 5. Princi London (10) Top Spots by Cuisine (with previous winner): American: Palm (Palm) British (Modern): Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (Chez Bruce) British (Traditional): Wilton’s (Goring Dining Room) Chinese: Hunan (Hunan) Chophouses: Goodman (Goodman) Eclectic: Viajante (Mosimann’s) European (Modern): Fat Duck (Murano) Fish ‘n’ Chips: Golden Hind (Golden Hind) French (Bistro): Bar Boulud (Comptoir Gascon) French (Brasserie): Racine (Racine) French (Classic): Le Gavroche (Waterside Inn) French (New): Ledbury (Ledbury) Indian: Rasoi Vineet Bhatia (Rasoi) Italian: River Cafe (River Cafe) Japanese: Dinings (Dinings) Lebanese: Ishbilia (Ishbilia) Mediterranean: La Petite Maison (Lat Petite Maison) Mexican: Chilango (Chilango) Pizza: Osteria Basilico (Franco Manca) Seafood: Scott’s (J Sheekey Oyster) Spanish: Barrafina (Moro) Thai: Nahm (Nahm) Vegetarian: Roussillon (Roussillon)
(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.)