London is experiencing a restaurant boom. Over the past year, 158 new outlets compared to 89 closures were recorded by Harden's for its upcoming 2008 London Restaurants guide. That’s 16 new restaurants more than the former record set in 2005, opening at an annual rate of three times what it was in the early Nineties. Harden’s co-editor, Peter Harden, is so enthused by the increase he’s dubbed this point in time a “golden age for the London restaurant-goer with the restaurant scene reaching a stage which would once have seemed inconceivable.” A walk down any High Street confirms Harden’s findings.
For the most part, we are pleased with London’s recent culinary growth and believe Londoners are much more likely to have an enjoyable dining experience than they were even five years ago. Still, with classic pie and mash shops such as Goddard’s Pie House calling it quits and word out that the stalwart New Piccadilly Café is set to close next month (more on that to come!) there is a fear that London may loose more than a bit of what makes it so unique. Moreover, we wonder how many of these new restaurants are corporate chains (as a walk down any High Street confirms), which wouldn’t be a bad thing necessarily as long as the indies are not squeezed out of the market and our cityscape doesn’t transform into a giant collage of corporate logos.
Photography courtesy of the jovike photostream on Flickr.