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Zagat Releases The 2012 London Restaurants Survey

Zagat has released the results of the 2012 London Restaurants Survey. The survey includes ratings and reviews of 1,187 restaurants in Greater London as voted on by 5,497 diners.

Winners: This year’s Most Popular award goes to The Wolseley, dethroning Gordon Ramsay at 68 Royal Hospital Rd., which is now No. 2. The Ledbury maintains pole position for Top Food and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal not only debuts as the Top Newcomer but also makes a splash at No. 10 on this year’s Top Food list with an impressive 27 Food score out of a possible 30. Other winners include Sketch – The Lecture Room & Library and Waterside Inn ranking atop their respective Decor and Service categories.

On the Up: The cost of dining out in London has jumped a dramatic 6.3% this year, from 40.84 to 43.40, marking the highest percent change in over a decade. Despite this significant increase, people are eating out more – 2.4 times per week, compared with 2.2 last year – the first rise in three years. Overall, 38% of Zagat surveyors believe the London dining scene is better than last year, compared to only 5% who say worse.

“Having observed the London dining scene for many years, it is clear that there has never been a better time to eat out; almost every neighbourhood has a wealth of choices for great food at excellent prices – you can’t go wrong” said Tim Zagat, Zagat Survey CEO.

Midpriced Delights: Simplicity reigns supreme as midpriced restaurants pop up all over town, luring diners with intriguing concepts, menus and interiors. Spuntino, Polpetto and Da Polpo – all siblings of Polpo – present affordable Italian fare in the West End, while Covent Garden’s Opera Tavern offers Spanish/Italian tapas. Bistro lovers can choose from newcomers 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen in Holborn, Henry Root in Chelsea and Chabrot in Knightsbridge, while Bar Battu offers “exciting, different” wines in the City.

Digital Dining: Internet reservations continue to rise in London as 37% of surveyors report typically booking online – up from 17% in 2008. When asked about texting, tweeting or talking on mobile phones at the table, 53% consider it “rude and inappropriate”. However, 74% think its “ok” to take pictures of their food and companions. In comparison, 67% of diners in LA and 64% of diners in NYC consider it “rude and inappropriate” to text and tweet at the table.

Gold Medal Hotels: In anticipation of the 2012 Olympics, there has been development in all areas of the city. This has equated to more hotels and hotel restaurants opening. Notable new restaurants include the highly rated Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Koffmann’s at The Berkeley. London has also seen the return of Jean-Georges Vongerichten with Spice Market at the W Leicester Square, Marcus Wareing’s Gilbert Scott at the St. Pancras Renaissance, Massimo Riccioli’s eponymous Massimo at the Corinthia, Andriano Cavagnini’s Amaranto at the Four Seasons at Park Lane and Fergus Henderson’s St. John Hotel. New branches of Balans, Bumpkin, Comptoir Libanais, Franco Manca, Jamie’s Italian, Wahaca and Yo! Sushi are set to open at Westfield Stratford City.

Service: London diners continue to bemoan restaurant hospitality with 73% naming Service their top dining complaint, followed by Prices (10%), Noise (8%) and Food (5%). When it comes to gender equality, 13% say that male diners are treated better when dining out, whereas only 9% say females.

Extra Tidbits: When asked how a celebrity chef influences their dining decisions, 38% said they were more likely to dine at a restaurant because of a famous chef while 55% said it has no effect. The survey also reports that 35% of diners typically eat in a “bistro/brasserie”, while 32% said “casual”, 13% said “haute”, 9% preferred “gastropub” and 3% said “celebrity chef”.