London Restaurants Survey is in full-swing, meaning it's time to let us know what you think about the local dining scene. With that in mind, we thought we’d quiz some of the most influential people on the London restaurant scene about their highlights of the last year what they’re looking forward to this year, and how they feel about their own Zagat scores.
First up is Russell Norman, one half of the prolific team that launched the ridiculously successful Polpo in 2009, and have since gone on to create, in quick succession, its spin-offs, Polpetto, Spuntino, Da Polpo and Mishkin’s.
What has been your favourite opening of the last 12 months and why? I think the relaunch of Quo Vadis with Jeremy Lee at the helm is the most exciting thing to happen to the London restaurant scene in the last 12 months. He is a brilliant and charming exponent of simplicity and elegance, and he joins the gorgeous Eddie and Sam Hart - a dream team.
When was the last time you ate out at a restaurant - that wasn't one of yours - and what did you think of it? Can you give it a Zagat score? I eat in my own restaurants most weekdays but at weekends my children get to choose, so yesterday we had lunch in Wagamama on the South Bank. It was perfectly fine, as expected. I would score it 16/16/24 on the basis of yesterday's visit; the service was brilliant.
What do you think is the best thing about the London restaurant scene at the moment? And the worst? The best thing about the London scene at the moment is the increasing number of small independent operators with canny and imaginative restaurant ideas who are opening cool, casual, walk-in-only joints. The worst thing is the lighting in most London restaurants - it is way too bright. There are some very well-known places where you'd think you were in an operating theatre rather than a restaurant.
Did you think the Zagat review and scores for your restaurants in the latest guide were fair? I think the comments are fair and the scores accurately reflect what we do. I'm always surprised and delighted that people like our restaurants - I'm such a natural pessimist.
Which new opening of 2012 are you most excited about? I'm fascinated to see what Keith McNally does for the London version of Balthazar. His restaurants are the most exciting thing about the New York dining scene, and it's going to be great to have a little of that over here.