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The famously crowdsourced Zagat guides have just issued their 2013 edition: if their most highly-starred entries are anything to go by, I am inclined to think that their typical respondent must be a male, 50-something city bigwig with an expense account the size of Mars.
Take Le Gavroche at no 3 for food. Michel Roux’s dishes are flawlessly executed, punctilious, classic. And far removed from a reflection of London’s current culinary scene.
Apparently, there is nothing much worth bothering about outside W1 and WC1. Hot neighbourhoods are Soho and Covent Garden. The furthest east they venture is to Viajante, fortunately already signposted by fellow dinosaurs Michelin. Oh, wait: here’s the elder Rouxs Waterside Inn (no 1 for food; no 3 for décor, gawd help us). In Bray. Which, last time I looked, wasn’t actually in London at all.
Who spends their own money at US super chef Wolfgang Puck’s stolid, overpriced and stuffy CUT (“top-rated newcomer”) where a meal for two can hit £300 without breaking a sweat? Or how about Espelette, an odd, corridor-like joint attached to the Connaught hotel (no 2 for service), almost entirely the preserve of wealthy, foreign hotel guests. The press release talks about “what Londoners want to eat” … hmm.
Nowhere on the press release are to be seen the wonderful likes of Bocca di Lupo, Copita, La Petite Maison, Lardo, Rules, Opera Tavern, Brawn, Trinity, Sushi Tetsu … I could go on. All of which any right-minded person would rather go to than Gordon Ramsay at Claridges (no 10 for “popularity”). Google may have snapped up Zagat last year for a gazillion or two, but for all its hi-tech trappings it comes across as a bit last century: created by fossils for fossils.