The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, a problematic, would-be reformist index of high-end global dining has today dropped its long list: the 51 — 120 “best restaurants in the world,” which acts as a forerunner to the list-proper, which will be announced in Singapore on Tuesday 25 June. (At the time of writing, the announcement has only revealed up to and including number 54.)
Four London restaurants are named among this list of 69: the only new entry is Core by Clare Smyth, the two-Michelin-starred Notting Hill restaurant from the 2018 winner of the controversial world’s “best female chef” award by the same organisation. It’s in at number 66.
The original St John, owned by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, which this year will celebrate its 25th anniversary has fallen from number 84 to 112.
The Ledbury, Brett Graham’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Notting Hill, for years a mainstay at the top end of the list has fallen out of the top 50 to number 64 in the list. It follows a trend, having dropped to number 42 in 2018, after placing at 27 in 2017.
In last year’s long list (when it ran from 51 – 100), only two London restaurants featured in this second tier: in addition to the original St. John, Hedone, by Mikael Jonsson in Chiswick, placed at number 82. That seminal restaurant announced its closure a fortnight ago and has thus dropped out of the list completely.
Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck — once a mainstay at number one — was the highest-placed U.K. restaurant in the back 50 last year, coming in at number 74. Under the organisers’ new rules, having once occupied the top spot, the Fat Duck is now ineligible for voting.
Meanwhile, Blumenthal’s (and Ashely Palmer-Watts’) London restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, also two-Michelin-starred — which was closed for an extended period after a fire last year — has dropped out of the top 50, coming in at number 83. Last year it placed at 45.
What it means for the top 50 itself is perennially difficult to predict. It would be a surprise if Lyle’s and the Clove Club — 38 and 33, respectively in the 2018 list — did not keep their places — possibly with a modest rise for Lyle’s. And unless there are shock new entries heading straight into the top 50 (which is extremely unusual), it will mean the smallest number of U.K. (and London) restaurants in the top tier for over five years.
Correction: an earlier version of this story wrongly suggested that the Fat Duck’s position of the list was unknown when in fact, under new 50 Best voting guidelines, that restaurant will never be on the list again.