Would You Pay £65 for a Main Course in London?

Soon you may have to.

In the second of our series on price rises we caught up with chef Marc Hardiman, head chef of Galvin at Windows in London. He told us that by the end of the summer a main course in London would be hitting £65. We sat up and took notice and asked him why.

“It’s simple,” he said, “Everything is going up. Inflation, VAT, wages, ingredients. Everything is going up. My dairy bill went up 22% in a month and one company on my price file raised its ingredients costs by 6% over the same period, across the board.

“We have tight margins already. Hospitality has notoriously low profit margins – somewhere between 9 – 15% is average – and we can’t pass all this onto the customer but we will have to pass some of it on. It’s inevitable.

“We are already close to that price point in London and I see it happening sooner rather than later. In another year I think we will see who is left in the market. For me there are going to be two tiers of restaurants – those at the top and those at the bottom. Both will be excellent in their own way.

“The luxury market will always be there, but it will have to be value for money. The cost of dining out will not necessarily be an issue but those that charge money will have to deliver. We see ourselves in that bracket but the group at the top will get smaller and you can’t survive in this climate by cutting costs. You have to stay calm and keep doing a brilliant job and look after your customers.

“Conversely, at the lower end there will be brilliant, cheaper food, done properly. That’s already happening with burgers, pizza and everything else. It’s the middle that will get squeezed out.

“In terms of where food it going I think we will see a return to the trolley and to elements of luxury. I don’t think it will go all the way back to where it was. We may see some silver service but I think customers enjoy the fact that there is a chef. It’s still intriguing.

“One thing we have noticed is the hybrid working week. With work at home part of daily life office workers are in the office Monday through Wednesday and that is making Wednesday the new Friday. We are open now Wednesday through Sunday but we only offer lunch on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Another thing that I’m seeing is food waste. We have really zeroed in on this and its having a it effect on our food. Take roast beef, for example. We roast the ribs on a trivet of vegetables  – onions, carrots, etc – and when the beef is done we take those vegetables and puree them and serve them with the beef. The flavour is immense. That method was not part of the classical canon but now we’re seeing more and more ways of using up everything in a positive way.”

Marc Hardiman talked to The Chefs’ Forum Editor Chandos Elletson.