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Thursday, 30 August, 2001, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
London 'tops Paris for eating out'
Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay's restaurant was voted top for food
France may have a reputation for good food but diners can find more interesting cuisine in London than Paris according to the latest edition of an influential restaurant guide.

The "Zagat Survey of London Restaurants" bases its findings on the opinions of restaurant customers rather than food critics.

Its author, Tim Zagat, said the survey which covers 70 cities worldwide showed how much food in London had improved.

"In many ways I think it is more interesting than Paris.

Most popular restaurants
1 The Ivy, W1
2 Nobu, W1
3 Gordon Ramsay, SW3
4 Le Caprice, SW1
5 Zafferano, SW1
6 Square, W1
7 Mirabelle, W1
8 Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons (Oxfordshire)
9 River Cafe, W6
10 Bibendum, SW6

"It is one of the top two, three or four cities - it is hard to say which - for restaurants," said Mr Zagat.

"When you look at London annually it is extraordinary how many good new restaurants there are," he added.

The Ivy restaurant near Covent Garden in central London - a popular haunt of celebrities - was named as the city's most popular dining spot for the fourth year running.

The restaurant run by TV chef Gordon Ramsay came third but beat the Ivy when diners were asked to judge on the quality of food alone.

In the past there were two terms for bad food: hotel food and British food

Tim Zagat
Survey author
His restaurant in Chelsea maintained the top spot it earned last year with diners describing the food as "superb" and "indescribably wonderful", but "pricey".

The survey though officially devoted to London restaurants, also included three located some distance from the capital.

Le Maison aux Quat' Saisons in Oxfordshire in southern England came in eighth on the list of most popular restaurants and was third-highest ranked for food.

While Gidleigh Park in Devon in the south west of England, around 200 miles from London, was rated the seventh best restaurant for food.

Bad tippers

Around 4,000 diners were questioned for the sixth London edition which covered nearly 1,300 restaurants.

It showed London is second only to Tokyo as the most expensive place to eat out among the world's major cities with an average meal costing more than 30.

And it found customers at London restaurants were the least generous when it came to tips, leaving the waiter on average the equivalent of 12% of the bill, compared with 18% in New York.

World average meal prices compared
Tokyo 40.55
London 30.85
Paris 28.01
New York 24.82
San Francisco 21.52
Chicago 20.00
Miami 19.29
Los Angeles 19.18
More than two-thirds of diners said they were most irritated by poor service with only 6% complaining about the standard of food.

And just 2% said they were irritated by other people's mobile phones ringing during their meal.

Tim Zagat said restaurants had to improve service because it was the key to customers enjoying their food.

"Chefs have become celebrities in both London and the US and they are a respected profession.

"I think the fact that there are several major culinary schools but there is hardly anybody training people professionally to serve shows that it is almost looked down on," Mr Zagat said.

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