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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 13th Dec 2023 - Number of London sites in Harden’s Top 100 restaurants falls to all-time low
Number of London sites in Harden’s Top 100 restaurants falls to all-time low as ‘destination dining in scenic locations’ triumphs: The number of London sites in Harden’s Top 100 restaurants has fallen to all-time low, with only 36 entries in the 2024 edition. It follows Harden’s reporting last year that the capital had seen the lowest level of new restaurant openings in more than a decade, and arguing last month that the London restaurant scene is in “tepid” state of growth. It said London is usually expected to make up 45-50% of its final rankings of the UK’s best restaurants. “London’s grip on the Top 100 list is the weakest that we have ever recorded (the lowest previous figure was 41 in the 2020 guide),” said Harden’s co-founder, Peter Harden. “While 12 months is too little data for firm pronouncements, this swing to the shires may reflect the increasing excellence of dining out across the country.” However, the guide notes that it is not regional cities driving any swing away from London, but destination dining in scenic locations such as this year’s winning entry, Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria. “Unlike in other European countries, our greatest cities still tend to lack depth when it comes to quality restaurants at the top end,” Harden added. “The closest any city comes to London’s 36 in the Top 100 is Edinburgh and Cambridge with just three apiece. England's largest cities, like Birmingham and in particular Manchester, have a large number of total entries in the guide, but proportionately fewer at the top end in the Top 100 or Top 500. With eight entries in the Top 500, Brighton beats either location in this department. Top dining in the sticks is often just that, with Top 100 restaurants outside London often to be found in leafy touristic locations such as this year’s winner, L’Enclume in The Lake District; or the number two on the list, Outlaw’s New Road in scenic Port Isaac.”  Last year’s winner, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, slips to third place in 2024. L’Enclume has featured in the Harden’s Top 100 every year since the list first launched in 2011 but this is the first time it has reached the top spot. Harden added: “L’Enclume has always been consistent in its top quality offering. Coming in at £300-plus including drinks and service, it’s certainly one of the higher priced restaurants in our listings, but we see none of the resistance from diners with regards to paying those prices that we’ve witness as other top establishments. Those who’ve made the pilgrimage think it’s money well spent.”

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