The UK's most expensive restaurant is also its best, according to a new ranking of the top 100 places to eat in the country.
The only option at the Araki, a London sushi establishment that seats 10 diners, is a set menu that costs £300 ($400) per person, before drinks. The Mayfair restaurant topped the Harden's 100 list, which reflects about 50,000 reviews submitted by 8,500 contributors.
Chef Mitsuhiro Araki opened the restaurant in 2014 and was awarded three Michelin stars this year. Celebrity David Beckham appears to have eaten there this week.
Harden’s is just one of several competing UK lists. These include the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards, which are based on the votes of 180 chefs, restaurateurs and food writers, including me. Araki doesn’t feature in that Top 100, possibly because so few people can afford to eat there, much less secure a table.
You can spend a considerable amount of money at several of the restaurants near the top of the Harden’s list, such as No. 5, chef Heston Blumenthal’s experimental restaurant the Fat Duck. A meal there is £275 and will rise to £325 in April. But Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, where the 10th Anniversary menu costs £280, doesn’t even register in the Harden’s rankings.
Restaurants from around the UK — in Bristol, Port Isaac, Bray, Oldstead and Edinburgh—all appear on the list.
"The excitement of the London restaurant scene has spilled over into the rest of the UK in the past five years,” said Peter Harden, who co-founded the guide with his brother Richard. “Most large cities now have nationally notable restaurants.”
The Harden’s Guide has been published for 25 years. Anyone can register and submit reviews. The rankings vary widely: The Black Swan, named the world’s best restaurant on TripAdvisor, places at No. 8 on Harden’s and at 58 in the National Restaurant Awards.
The Harden’s Top 10:
- The Araki, London
- Casamia, the General, Bristol
- The Ledbury, London
- Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac
- The Fat Duck, Bray Marianne
- Waterside Inn, Bray
- Black Swan, Oldstead
- Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
- The Clove Club, London
- Gidleigh Park, Chagford
- Fraiche Oxton Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
Article by Richard Vines, chief food critic at Bloomberg