The 2012 Zagat London Restaurant Survey of 5,500 diners found the cost of dining out in London has jumped from £40.84 last year to £43.40 – the highest percentage increase in over a decade.
But despite the increase, diners are eating out more than they have done in the past three years – an average of 2.4 times per week compared to 2.2 per week in both 2010 and 2009.
In fact a third of Zagat surveyors rated the London dining scene as better than last year, with just 5 per cent claiming it has deteriorated.
Tim Zagat, co-founder of the guide with wife Nina who last week sold Zagat Surveys to internet giant Google, said the figures were a sign of the London restaurant scene’s resilience to change.
“The fact the number of meals per week have increased in a year when prices went up by 6.3 per cent is a sign of the strengthening of the industry,” he said.
“You can’t get away with that level of inflation and at the same time get people to eat out more without doing something right.
“It’s a sign of strength, but while things aren’t quite where they were before it’s better than it has been in the last two or three years.”
However the survey proved the most disappointing aspect of the London restaurant industry is its quality of service – diners gave London hospitality a score of just 13 out of 30, while 73 per cent claimed service irritated them the most when eating out.
“There’s one major weak link in the industry and it’s service,” Tim Zagat added, although he claimed the problem was a similar one experienced in major cities across the globe.
London vs. the World
Compared to the rest of the world, Londoners eat out 0.7 times per week less than its average US counterpart. Those in Texas and Tokyo eat out more than other major cities surveyed by Zagat at 3.8 times per week.
In terms of price, London’s menus were deemed among the most expensive in the world – just £5.41 cheaper than Paris (£48.81) and a huge £23.69 cheaper than Tokyo (£67.09). The average meal in London is £17.55 more expensive than in New York (£25.85), although average meal eaten in the US was found to cost £21.99.
The survey found that most diners typically dine in bistros (35 per cent), casual restaurants (32 per cent) and fine dining restaurants (13 per cent), with the most popular cuisine types being Italian (23 per cent), French (19 per cent), Japanese (15 per cent) and Thai (9 per cent).
The Wolseley was named the most popular restaurant in London, with Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and J.Sheekey’s in second and third position respectively.
Brett Graham’s The Ledbury was named best for food once more, while Pied a Terre climbed 11 places to claim second position. Dinings was given third place.
The top 10 most popular restaurants in London, according to Zagat Surveys, are:
1. The Wolseley (3)
2. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (1)
3. J. Sheekey (2)
4. Nobu London (8)
5. The Ivy (7)
6. Gordon Ramsay at Claridges (5)
7. Hakkasan (6)
8. Wagamama (4)
9. Le Gavroche (10)
10. The Ledbury (26)