Rise of the £200-a-head super restaurants

·2-min read
At the Araki sushi restaurant in Mayfair the chef’s menu costs £310 a head excluding wine. (PA)
At the Araki sushi restaurant in Mayfair the chef’s menu costs £310 a head excluding wine. (PA)

The price of eating out at a top restaurant in London has soared to new levels with the bill at a growing number of “super luxury” destinations topping £200-a-head, according to a new survey.

There are now seven restaurants in London where a couple can expect to fork out at least £400 for three courses — or increasingly a compulsory tasting menu — a bottle of house wine, coffee and service.

This compares with just one before the pandemic — The Araki sushi restaurant in Mayfair - where the chef’s menu costs £310 a head excluding wine.

Newcomers to the £200 plus club are Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Endo at Rotunda, Ikoyi, Kitchen Table, Mão, and Sketch (Lecture Room). The number of venues where the bill is unlikely to be under £150 a head has risen from nine two years ago to 24, claims the latest Harden’s Guide to London restaurants.

 (JKS Restaurants)
(JKS Restaurants)

The trend suggests that London is catching up on global gastronomic rivals such as Tokyo and Paris where main courses alone can exceed €100 (£84).

Editor Peter Harden said the trend reflected the move towards more extravagant tasting menus that are steadily pushing out traditional à la carte offerings.

He said: “A meal in a top restaurant is often almost as much a theatrical experience — with drama provided by a lavish restaurant interior and interaction with the chefs — as it is just ‘a meal out’. It is becoming priced more like other experiences such as top opera tickets or premier league tickets rather than just relative to the food.” He said it also demonstrated London’s increasing global gastronomic destination status.

The potential to spend “silly money” for a meal in London has been further underlined by last month’s opening of Nusr-Et steak house in Knightsbridge where chef Salt Bae charges up to £1,450 for a tomahawk steak wrapped in gold leaf.

Even at the less elite end of the spectrum the cost is rising. The average price of dinner for one at restaurants listed in the guide is £64.14, up from £59.28 two years previously, an annual average rise of four per cent. The increase is most marked among more expensive restaurants charging over £100 per head where bills have been going up at 8.8 per cent annually.

The guide also reveals the remarkable resilience of the London restaurant scene despite the challenges of Brexit, acute staff shortages and Covid closures and restrictions. While there were 250 closures over 2020 and 2021, these were outstripped by almost 300 openings.

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