Dinner by Heston Blumenthal offers the best meal in London, according to Harden's

Is this the home of the best meal in London? Dinner by Heston Blumenthal topped the popularity stakes in the latest Harden's guide to the capital

The capital's dining scene has experienced a 'rapid rebound' in the last year with a jump in the number of openings of 25 per cent, according to the latest Harden's guide which lists Dinner by Heston Blumenthal as the best meal in London.

With the publication of Harden’s London Restaurants 2013, the team behind the annual survey of so-called restaurant-loving 'reporters' said it had been a good year for Brett Graham and Jason Atherton but a not so good twelve months for Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.


According to the guide 134 new restaurants opened their doors in the period - a jump from 107 openings the year before.

While the number of closures (74) was described as 'entirely normal' the growth of new eateries was, according to guide co-editor Richard Harden, above average and a further sign the city's restaurant scene was as exciting as New York.

"Traditionally, dining out was considered a luxury and ‘the first thing to go’ in hard times, so it is very odd that the longest recession anyone can remember is coinciding with this extraordinary flowering in the London restaurant scene, at all levels. It is all ‘through the looking glass’."

"New York-style dining has become London’s default style du jour," he said.

Best or shameful?

The big winner in the 22nd guide based on 75,000 survey reports was Heston Blumenthal who saw his Mandarin Oriental restaurant knock Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley off the top spot in the list of top gastronomic experiences or the places that offer the best meal in London.

However Peter Harden, fellow co-editor of the guide, did not allow the legendary celebrity chef and head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts any time to celebrate pleasing the high number of diners attracted to the well talked about Knightsbridge restaurant.

"As the novelty wears off, though, the restaurant is also beginning to feature on the survey’s ‘lists of shame’ – for overpricing or disappointment. If Heston wants to maintain his top ranking in future years he will have to work hard to disarm this growing undercurrent of dissatisfaction," he said.

In May, Dinner became the highest new entry and highest placed UK venue in this year's World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay were both considered to have had a bad year by the Harden's survey and guide. The Jamie's Italian brand was awarded the lowest food rating with some describing it as being of 'airline quality.

For the first time in 15 years Restaurant Gordon Ramsay does not appear in the top 10 restaurants vying for best meal of the year and Petrus is now the most popular venue in the GRH stable.

Harden’s London Restaurants 2013 - Top Trends:

  • Growth in 'ambitious' openings and high-end, large steakhouses
  • Above inflation price rises - the average cost of dinner in the establishments in the guide costs £46.55
  • A love of Americana with New York brands and USA-influenced concepts launching
  • Go East - the trend for new openings to be focused away from West London continues
  • Peruvian becomes the 'new' cuisine of the year with the opening of Ceviche and Lima

Other winners in the guide, which is now published in hard and electronic versions, were Brett Graham whose National Restaurant Awards-topping restaurant The Ledbury replaced Le Gavroche as the survey’s best-rated top-end restaurant overall and Jason Atherton. Atherton's Pollen Street Social venue became the only new restaurant to make the top 10 best meal list coming in at number six.

At the other end of the scale the Oxo Tower Restaurant was once again described by Harden's as being the most overpriced restaurant and having the most disappointing cooking.

Top Gastronomic Experience (‘Best Meal’):

  1. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
  2. The Ledbury
  3. Le Gavroche
  4. Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley
  5. Chez Bruce

Most Mentioned:

  1. J Sheekey
  2. Scott’s
  3. Chez Bruce

Best Bar/Pub Food:

  1. The Anchor & Hope 
  2. Harwood Arms
  3. Bull & Last 

Most Disappointing Cooking:

  1. The Oxo Tower Restaurant 
  2. Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s
  3. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal         

Most Overpriced Restaurant:

  1. The Oxo Tower Restaurant
  2. The River Café
  3. Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's

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