Top Food in London: Yashin Sushi
Since opening in 2012, this Kensington sushi parlour has slowly climbed in the estimation of surveyors and, in the 2014 guide, garners the top spot for Food in London. While even fans concede that the “prices are as eye-watering as the food is mouthwatering” for special-occasion sashimi, it really can’t be beat. Special mention must go to The Waterside Inn in Bray, which scooped the Top Food award in the wider survey that covers restaurants beyond London.
New Survey Results: London's Best Restaurants
By Claire Coleman
September 9, 2013
Today sees the release of the 2014 Zagat London Restaurants Survey, covering 1,290 restaurants, as rated and reviewed by 10,271 avid diners. Read on to find out which restaurant surveyors rated best for Food, Service and Decor, and to learn more about the trends emerging from this year's survey, as well as the capital's hottest new culinary neighbourhoods.
Top Food in London: Yashin Sushi
Top Decor: Sketch - The Lecture Room & Library
For the third year in a row, Sketch’s opulent Lecture Room & Library was ranked highest in the decor stakes. Ensconced on the first floor of a Mayfair townhouse, serving chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Modern European food, the impressive interior is the work of designer Gahban O’Keefe. Cream-leather studded walls are the muted backdrop to a stage set with bold designs in orange and yellow, opulent velvet armchairs and hanging lamps. Oh, and don’t forget the crystal-encrusted, mirrored bathrooms.
Top Service in London: Ledbury
Perhaps it’s little surprise that Brett Graham’s Notting Hill spot has beaten off the competition to be rated top for service in London. After all, a few years ago the staff famously chased off looters who attempted to rob patrons of jewellery and mobile phones. Even when things aren’t quite so dramatic, fans of the place still reckon the brigade there are “fantastic.” P.S. in the wider survey that covers restaurants outside the capital, The Waterside Inn in Bray scooped up top honors.
Most Popular: The Wolseley
When surveyors were asked to list their favourite restaurants, for the third year in a row The Wolseley, on Piccadilly, came out on top. Perhaps it’s because the all-day grand cafe appeals to such a wide range of diners. From breakfasting businessmen to tourists taking afternoon tea, the place is inevitably buzzing from dawn until late.
Most Popular Chain: Masala Zone
When it comes to favourites among the chains, Indian street-food group, Masala Zone, has this year come from nowhere to oust Wagamama - now down in third place, below Wahaca. With seven properties around town, including a self-service counter in Selfridges, the Masala Zone chain - which is part of the same group that owns Chutney Mary, Veeraswamy and Amaya - prides itself on serving inexpensive thalis and small plates.
Trend: Big Names From Overseas
London continues to be the focus for expansion from overseas chefs and investors with this year’s survey including a host of properties from big names abroad. There’s Bo London (pictured), brought to the capital by Hong Kong’s Alvin Leung; Ametsa with Arzak Instruction imported from Spain, and, of course, London’s Keith McNally’s New York take on a French brasserie painstakingly recreated in Covent Garden.
Trend: French Brasseries
This year, some of the biggest - and most successful - openings have been French. From the long-awaited arrival of Balthazar to Little Social, one of Jason Atherton’s new ventures, Bouchon Fourchette in London Fields and Eric Chavot's return to London with Brasserie Chavot (pictured), it’s all about escargots, a decent bottle of house red and steak frites done right.
Trend: Gourmet Fast Food
The collective passion for poshed-up white-trash grub continues. From Wishbone, Honest Burgers (pictured; it's also second place in our BBQ category), Chooks and Bubbledogs to Dirty Burger, and newcomers Five Guys and Shake Shack, we’re swimming in a sea of melted cheese, brioche buns and fried breadcrumbs - and we love it. The tide shows no sign of turning with MEATLiquor expanding to Brighton, Dirty Burger just opened in Vauxhall, and plans for a new Chicken Shop in Tooting too.
Hot Neighbourhood: Kings Cross
The redevelopment of Kings Cross station has been more than simply cosmetic: it's reinvigorated the area from a culinary perspective. In addition to Caravan's cavernous cafe, there's hipster favourite Shrimpy's and Bruno Loubet's latest venture Grain Store (pictured). And with the presence of the KERB street-food collective (in residence at the top of King’s Boulevard Tuesday-Friday), as well as Plum + Spilt Milk (overseen by former Gordon Ramsay protégé Mark Sargeant in the nearby Great Northern Hotel) and, of course, The Gilbert Scott at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel (also, coincidentally under another former Ramsay protégé, Marcus Wareing), whatever your budget or hankering, you'll find something that appeals.
Hot Neighbourhood: Brixton
Just a few years ago, despite the lone oasis that was pizza specialists, Franco Manca, the idea that Brixton’s rundown Granville Arcade, due for demolition, and nearby Market Row could be a gourmet destination would have been laughable. That all changed when a company called Spacemakers got involved, setting up a scheme where units were let rent-free for three months. A variety of pop-up restaurants, galleries and shops gradually moved in, attracting more visitors and revitalising the area. Almost weekly, it seems that KaoSarn, Mama Lan, Honest Burgers, Salon and French & Grace (pictured) are joined by yet another keen young eating option - long may that continue.