There was probably nowhere in the world last night that had a bigger concentration of top chefs than the City of London, as the culinary great and greater gathered in the Square Mile for the sixth annual National Restaurant Awards.
Hosted by Restaurant Magazine — the same folk behind World’s 50 Best Restaurants — the awards honour the one hundred best dining venues in the UK, as voted for by chefs, restaurateurs and food critics.
Spanish chef Joan Roca from the world’s current best restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, was in attendance and handed out the award for the nation’s best restaurant to Marlow gastropub The Hand and Flowers. Despite the capital missing out on the top spot, of the remaining 99 restaurants winning, no fewer than 58 were London-based.
As in the case of the winning gastropub, there was a refreshing leaning towards the more casual, creative and less traditionally high-end, especially in London's entries. Some particularly affordable winners include noodle bar Koya, Ramen joint Bone Daddies, popular Venetian small plates restaurant Polpo, burger lair MeatLiquor, Bermondsey Street tapas bar Jose, and pulled pork experts PittCue Co. As well as all being rather cool, what these have in common is choosing one thing to specialise in and doing it well. Only Polpo squeezes into the top half, though, reaching 47.
Higher up the list, previous winner and rioter fighters The Ledbury moved down to the number two spot, while Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social also dropped down just one spot to number three. It was a good year for the ex-Ramsay chef, with his newer, more casual restaurant Social Eating House entering at no.33. It’s interesting to note that his mentor’s Michelin three-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay could only muster spot 62.
This year’s highest new entry went to Shoreditch’s The Clove Club at number 4, a big win for the first permanent restaurant from the faces behind roving supperclubers The Young Turks, which was funded entirely through crowdsourcing. King’s Cross Central’s Grain Store, headed up by chef Bruno Loubet, was new at 9; the restaurant whose menus put vegetables in the spotlight also scooped the coveted gong for most sustainable restaurant of the year. Michelin two-starred restaurants The Square and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal scooped spots 8 and 10 respectively, bringing London’s total number in the top 10 to an impressive six, showing that the capital is still leading the way when it comes to dining out.
Other notable and new entries include hip and hard to get into Dabbous at 11, Chinese fine-dining HKK at 29, steak behemoth Hawksmoor’s plush Air Street restaurant at 32, Hutong in The Shard at 88 and Tom Seller’s book-themed Restaurant Story at 95.
You can see the full top 100 on the official awards site here, and count up how many you’ve eaten at. Let us know your numbers and anywhere you feel deserves to be included but isn’t in the comments below.