now open, and we’d love to hear what you think about what’s going on in London. To celebrate the survey, we’re also asking some of the capital’s most high-profile dining types for their views. Today, it’s the turn of Will Beckett of Hawksmoor. When he and school friend Huw Gott launched their first temple to meat in Spitalfields in 2006, they had just one aim: to “open the best steak restaurant in London." It’s certainly proved popular, with a Covent Garden sib launched in 2010 and a cavernous Guildhall location joining the family last year. Here’s Will’s views on the scene, and a sneaky insight into his future plans for the group...
What has been your favourite opening of the last 12 months and why?
José in Bermondsey for all sorts of reasons - I think the area is developing a real buzz, which is always exciting and José has quickly become a favourite place for me and my wife (who is from Menorca), as she’s always struggled to find great Spanish food here. I also really like the feel of the place - small vibrant restaurants have been a real feature of the last 12 months and this is a great one.
When was the last time you ate out at a restaurant that wasn't yours, and what did you think of it? Can you give it a Zagat score?
I eat out once or twice a week, always going somewhere different. I ate at Vinoteca on Seymour Place fairly recently and I loved it - great food and really friendly, knowledgeable service. Food - 24, Decor - 20, Service - 24.
What do you think is the best thing about the London restaurant scene at the moment? And the worst?
I think the whole scene is moving away from stiff service and stifling atmosphere to restaurants where people can go and really enjoy themselves, even at the top end. We’ve always tried to do that at Hawksmoor and I think it’s a big feature of modern restaurants.
On the downside, I don’t enjoy places that put high percentage mark ups on wine bottles - we try to put cash margins on instead, which inevitably works out better for customers.
Did you think the Zagat review and scores for your restaurants in the latest guide were fair?
It’s difficult to argue that they’re not fair when they’re aggregated across a load of public votes. My guess is Spitalfields scored lower for decor than Seven Dials as it was our first one and done on a shoestring budget, but we’re doing a refurb there this year to get it up to the same standard as the other two, as well as opening a bar there.
Which new opening of 2012 are you most excited about?
Galvin Demoiselle should be good – the Galvins, and Sarah in particular, must be amongst the nicest people in the industry. I’m also excited about Mele & Pere [Soho spot set to launch in February from ex–Arbutus and Wild Honey chef, Andrea Mantovani] if it’s the high-quality rustic Italian food I’m hoping it will be.