London saw 167 restaurant openings over the past 12 months, according to the latest Harden’s Restaurant Guide - the fourth highest rate in the publication’s 28-year history.

This was despite closures hitting an all-time high with 117 independent restaurants closing in the capital over the period. The previous high was 113 closures, in 2003. For the past year, London saw an overall net increase of 50.

The guide says the record for openings was 200, which was recorded two years ago, when there was a net openings figure of 123.

The figures mark the end of a five-year peak of net openings in the capital, which had stood at more than 100 per year since 2015.

The increase in closures is being attributed to what the guide’s co-founder Peter Harden describes as ‘unprecedented’ competition.

He said: “The level of competition within the London restaurant market is unprecedented and is creating business conditions even more challenging that elsewhere in the UK.

“In 2003, the previous peak for closures, it was different: the hit to the market came from a slump in demand due to the second Gulf War, SARS, and the lowest hotel occupancy rates of recent decades.

“This time, the problem is purely and simply a case of over-supply: too many restaurants chasing a level of demand that although it continues to rise is doing so only slowly.”

A further sign of pressure in the independent market comes from the ratio of openings to closings, which dropped sharply to 1.4 to 1.

Only one previous year has exceeded this rate: 2003 when, at 1.2 to 1, it was a time when for nearly every restaurant that opened another one closed, says Harden’s.

Harden’s restaurant data was compiled for the 2019 edition of the guide and is based only on independent restaurants with three or fewer sites - chains with more than three branches are excluded from the statistics.

The Harden’s survey saw Aggi Sverisson’s Texture, Thomas Parry’s Brat and Fulham’s Harwood Arms win top marks from survey respondents.

Jamie’s Italian, The Ivy Grill and Brasserie, and The River Cafe got the worst feedback from restaurant goers.

Purely vegetarian and vegan openings outnumbered steak and burger restaurants combined.

Modern British and Italian cuisines remain the most popular for launching a new restaurant, with Japanese newcomers the third-most-represented cuisine for new arrivals.

After Central London (65), North London (30) was for the first time the busiest area for new openings, just ahead of East London (29).

The average price of dinner was £55.76 (compared to £53.20 last year), with prices rising by 4.8% in the past 12 months, up on 3.6% in the preceding 12 months.