Huge surge in ultra-expensive London restaurants revealed

There are now 54 venues in London where diners can expect to spend £150 a head to eat, up by almost half in a year
Mayfair’s Japanese restaurant Aragawa grabbed headlines for charging £900 for a 14oz Tajima beef waygu steak
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The cost of living crisis might have made many of us think twice about an expensive dinner out over the past year.

But it has not stopped dozens of “hyper-luxurious” restaurants in London upping their prices to dizzying new levels of exorbitance, according to a new guide.

The latest edition of Harden’s London Restaurants found that there are now 54 venues in London where a couple could expect to receive a bill for at least £300 for their evening out.

That is up by almost half from 37 last year but as recently as 2016 there was just one restaurant, The Araki London in Mayfair, that exceeded the £150-a-head barrier.

But the fastest growing gastronomic “club” in London is at the £250-a-head tier. Their ranks almost doubled from six to 11 last year, according to the guide, which is published next month.

The growth in popularity of extravagant tasting menus, combined with the arrival of high end Japanese sushi “omakase” restaurants, has helped swell the numbers of venues where the cost of a meal will set you back at least half a grand.

The trend shows no sign of slowing down with one new opening this month, Mayfair’s Japanese restaurant Aragawa grabbing headlines for charging £900 for a 14oz Tajima beef waygu steak.

At yet another recent new arrival of London’s gastronomic scene, Sushi Kanesaka at the five-star 45 Park Lane Hotel, the 17-course set menu costs £420 with a sake pairing option of up to £220 on top.

However, it is not just Mayfair, traditionally London’s most expensive dining destination, where prices are reaching hitherto unexplored heights. At Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden the tasting menu weighs in at £195 with wine matching options ranging from £150 to £550.

A wider range of culinary styles are also making it into the “£500 club.” Two Michelin starred Ikoyi on The Strand, which is heavily influenced by west African cooking, charges £300 for its tasting menu.

According to the guide more than half of all restaurants where bills are at least £100 a head on average are in London — and their prices went up by 10.7% last year.

Editor of co-founder Peter Harden said restaurants once seen as hugely overpriced such as the River Cafe in Hammersmith were now only mid-tier at around £150 a head.

He added London had much to lose if the trend continues. He said: “London has a reputation as a city for everyone and it would be a great shame if we saw it become like Venice where some people go to spend huge amounts of money but hardly anyone who lives or works there can afford to go out.

“I hope that the trends we have seen on prices over recent years start to reverse so we don’t end up as we did in Edwardian times when dining at these places was exclusively for the rich.”