The price of a meal in the best restaurants in the UK has more than doubled since Brexit from £100 per person to over £200, according to two new guides.
Peter Harden, the editor of his eponymous restaurant guides, said: ‘We have moved very quickly from a time when five years ago charging over £100 a head was the outlier, to now, when for the very best restaurants, £200 per head a head becomes the norm.
For the first time, Harden’s London Restaurant Guide has raised its maximum price threshold to £130 per person to reflect the record rise in menu prices. The 2023 edition includes 15 restaurants in the capital with a guide price of over £200 a head, up from six in this bracket this year.
And Harden’s Best UK Restaurants for 2023, published next month, will list 12 places outside London charging more than £200 per person, up from eight this year. They include Britain’s most expensive restaurant Ynyshir hall in CeredigionWales where the 32-course tasting menu costs £410pp.
He describes the restaurant, which has two Michelin stars, as a “big darling of the British fooderati”, but he notes that many of his critics now regard it as “ridiculously overpriced”.
Harden said: ‘If you go back to our first post-Brexit edition of London in 2017, then there was only one restaurant costing over £150, now there are 37, and there are 154 in the guide above the £100 level. ”
He added: “This phenomenon is not limited to London. The price of the most expensive plan in our UK guide this year is £430, for Ynyshir in Wales. He added, in reference to Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in Berkshire: “These days it’s pretty hard to get out of the Fat Duck for under £1,000 for two.”
One of Harden’s reporters described the Fat Duck as “incredibly overpriced…we ate at several Michelin stars one at the same time, which we enjoyed much more, and you could have had almost four meals at those restaurants for the price of one at the Big Duck”.
Harden said some UK restaurants were now charging “staggering amounts that would have been inconceivable in the UK just a few years ago”.
Harden said Brexit posed an existential threat to the restaurant industry, partly because of rising food prices, but mainly because of the added cost of hiring staff.
He said: “Brexit has been absolutely disastrous for trade. We launched our guide 32 years ago before the Maastricht Treaty. The ability to recruit Europeans has been a major driver of the restaurant revolution that has taken place in the UK over the past 25 years or so. [At] most of the best restaurants…over 80% of their staff would have been European.
“Britain has woken up to good quality food. Now the question is how many of us can afford it and is there anyone to serve it?
Harden said the impact of Brexit has been “most dramatic at top restaurants”, with many opting to charge customers prepaid fixed prices.
He explained: “The tasting menu has become much more common, to help restaurants work their margins. The answer for many is simply to feed fewer people and open less.
“The a la carte menu is really dead a bit in the best restaurants. It becomes impossible to enter and taste the highlife by having a main course and a glass of wine. Now you have to spend four hours eating 32 dishes and come out completely stuffed to the gills. Restaurants get a lot more certainty this way.
The Fat Duck has been approached for comment.
Prices per person at Harden’s best restaurants in London in 2023
Araki 380 €
Kitchen table 330 €
Endo to Rotunda £285
Roketsu 285 €
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester £224
Sketch (conference room) £223
From Terra 223 €
Restaurant Gordon Ramsay 210 €
The Frog 208 €
Cloves 206 €
Price per head at Harden’s best uk restaurants 2023
Ynyshir Hall, Eglwys Fach £410
Large Duck, Bray €353
Midsummer House, Cambridge €321
Anvil, Cartmel €296
Raby Hunt, Summer House £277
Moor Hall, Aughton £273
Four Seasons Manor, Great Milton €299
Waterfront Inn, Bray €269
Whatley Mansion, Easton Gray €239
New Outlaws Route, Port Isaac £215
Mana, Manchester £203
Lympstone Manor, Lympstone £201