Louie, Covent Garden – the first big London launch post-lockdown.
Behind the scenes
Man about town Guillaume Glipa (Annabel’s, Chiltern Firehouse and co.) partners with Laurent de Gourcuff's Paris Society whose stable of haute hangs includes Girafe, Apicius and Loulou, a favourite of Bella Hadid and Beyoncé.
Louie, lovely Louie, was not intended for such trying times. It was meant to launch in March, a pleasure palace for the social set – a little bit New Orleans, a little bit New York – with live music, Creole food, a bar on every floor, a roof terrace, secret ‘cabana’ and a 2am late license (a fat lot of good that is).
Even before it had served its first po’ boy, it was declared ‘the new Chiltern Firehouse’. We went for supper, one week prior to the curfew announcement, when a 7pm reservation – uncool then, covetable now – saw us shuffling home around ten just as the lights went down and the volume up. The party, even abiding by the ‘rule of six’, would continue into the early hours.
Speaking to him one week later, Guillaume Glipa is heroically optimistic about it all. The 10pm to 2am clientele may have represented “50-plus percent” of business, but he believes the London crowd will adjust to the step change. He’s made some adjustments, bringing evening service forward to 5pm; DJ sets to 7pm; bottling cocktails ‘to go’; and launching lunch this Wednesday (September 30th), a month earlier than planned. Brunch is already buzzing.
Louie has movie star-good looks (design duo Dion et Arles of Chiltern Firehouse has form). It’s an escapist fantasy, complete with its own soundscape curated by Hôtel Costes’ Malik Alary, not one but two bespoke fragrances by perfumer Azzi Glasser, and staff in belted safari jackets that channel 1970s Roger Moore. Even with its wings clipped, Louie shimmers with the promise of hedonism, currently in short supply.
Contemporary American cuisine by Mississippi-born Slade Rushing, executive chef for five years at New Orleans institution Brennan’s. Our waiter guides us towards the classics-with-a-twist at the upper end of the menu – steak tartare with wasabi; foie gras terrine with satsuma marmalade; and New York strip steak with glazed gem lettuce and sauce bordelaise – but we resist.
We’re here for a taste of the Big Easy. It comes in the dainty, deconstructed form of oysters ‘Rockefeller’ delicately poached and bathed in foaming butter; and a signature gumbo with a deep dark reduced sauce and a silver thimble of delicious crab rice on the side.
American chefs really know their salads. Beetroot, buttermilk and Roquefort is excellent; we’ll return to try the hearts of palm with citrus vinaigrette, and the Caesar with smoked oyster. Rushing’s sauces are something else too. How we’d have loved some bread, if only to mop up what was left of our sweet potato truffle gratin, a not-to-be-missed dish.
Deconstructed oysters Rockefeller; seafood gumbo; New Orleans-style BBQ lobster; and baba ‘bananas foster’. Meet fine-dining by way of the French Quarter.
Brunch. We may not be able to party after ten, but we can party until ten. Cocktails and live music from 11am.
Louie, 13-15 West Street, London, WC2H 9NE; louie-london.com
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