London restaurant prices have soared by 11 per cent over the past year – driving the average cost of a meal for two in the capital up to £90.
The increase is a far cry from the inflation seen in restaurant prices in 2009/10, which rose by just 2.5 per cent.
According to research for Harden’s London Restaurants 2012 Guide, which lists over 1800 restaurants in the capital, the average cost of a meal for one, including three courses, wine, coffee and service, now reaches £45.01.
It is thought rising food prices the world over coupled with a step up to 20 per cent VAT in January this year are the main forces behind the inflation.
Peter Harden, co-editor of the guide with his brother Richard, said: “In the 21 years we have followed the restaurant scene, we’ve never before seen annual inflation anywhere near 10 per cent.”
In addition, the number of new restaurant openings in the capital in the past year has fallen by 28 since 2009/10 to 107 – the lowest number recorded by Hardens since 2000 (102).
The guide also reports the number of restaurant closures in the capital to be 72 in the past year, a level deemed average by the guide.
However while the number of new restaurants has dropped, the Hardens claim the quality of those openings has improved to an ‘impressive’ level.
“It is sometimes said that hard times make good art, and it seems to be the same with restaurants,” said Richard Harden. “The way quality is – at last – flourishing in the London restaurant scene really is impressive.
“For far too long we’ve seen the capital’s restaurant scene seemingly dominated by big media-friendly names – Conran in the late-90s then Ramsay in the noughties – but now we seem to be entering a much more mature era where what counts is quality, sometimes twinned with innovation, not media profile.”
As such the Hardens have produced a list of what they deem to be the ten most significant openings of the last 12 months.
“This year, our selection is – arguably for the first time ever – composed almost exclusively of restaurants of note, not for scale or fashionable appeal but simply by virtue of the quality of their cooking. To this extent, we may perhaps say that the London restaurant scene has finally ‘grown up’”.
Richard and Peter Harden’s top ten significant openings in 2010/11 are:
Brawn, Bethnal Green
Les Deux Salons, Leicester Square
Pollen Street Social, Mayfair
Riding House Café, Fitzrovia
Harden’s London Restaurant Guide 2012 is due for release on 1 September.