| Kaye Holland

The lowdown on The Harden’s London Restaurant Awards 2016

The Araki, the UK’s most expensive restaurant run by the famed sushi chef Mitsuhiro Araki, has emerged as the big winner at the first ever Harden’s London Restaurant Awards 2016.

Araki’s eponymous restaurant won the Chapel Down award for offering London’s Top Gastronomic Experience, beating off stiff competition from Brett Graham’s Ledbury and Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche.

The Araki’s chef-owner previously ran a three-Michelin starred sushi restaurant of the same name in Tokyo, but decided to relocate to London last year, to seek “new challenges.”

Image result for hardens london restaurant awardsCompered by Radio 2 presenter, Nigel Barden, the glittering award ceremony, took place yesterday at The Hippodrome Casino in London’s Leicester Square, in front of a star- studded crowd that included chef luminaries like Jason Atherton, Richard Corrigan and David Moore.

The awards, which encompassed 12 categories, recognised the whole price range of dining experiences in the capital – the cheapest being the winner of the Best Street Food category, Mark Gevaux – aka The Rib Man – whose meat rolls start at just £7.

Elsewhere Lee Tiernan, head chef at Black Axe Mangal, was celebrating after winner the top newcomer award for his “mind-blowingly good”, “off-the- wall” combination of “loud metal and spicy kebabs”.

There was recognition too for established names with The Wolseley recognised as Best for Business and Clos Maggiore as Best for Romance. Meanwhile Mayfair’s old-established Guinea Grill saw off trendier competitors – here’s looking at Hawksmoor – to win the award for Best Steaks and Grills.

And Bloomsbury’s Noble Rot – the acclaimed spin-off from the eponymous wine magazine – won The Chapel Down award for Wine List of the Year. The judging panel praised Noble Rot’s “unbeatably interesting list… with lots of interesting vintages (including many mature wines) from in-the- know vineyards”.

Nott all award-winners were situated solely in central or east London: Milk in Balham took the prize for Best Brunch while Fulham’s celebrated Harwood Arms was hailed Top Bar or Pub for “taking pub food to a new level entirely” as a “gastropub on steroids”.

An additional Lifetime Achievement award was presented at the ceremony to Bruce Poole, in recognition of his work at Chez Bruce – voted London’s Favourite Restaurant for over a decade by participants in Harden’s annual diner survey, which formed the basis for the award shortlists.

Peter Harden, co-founder of Harden’s and host of the awards said: “Having read and looked through more than 1,000,000 restaurant reviews in my career I know the amazing commitment it takes to be a leader in the eating-out industry. I salute all those shortlisted via our survey, but particularly of course Mitsuhiro Araki, whose gamble in giving up his three Michelin Stars in Tokyo and moving his operation to London is proving spectacularly successful; and is yet another feather in London’s culinary cap.”

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