13-15 West Street , WC2H 9NE
WLC Rank : 22
Glass from : £ 8 (125 ml)
BEST FORLuxury house party atmosphere
A distinctive menu ranging from French fare to Po-Boys
Burgundy, Bordeaux, USA and Italy
With a Mississippi alligator as its logo, Louie draws inspiration from Louis Armstrong, Louisiana and Louis XIV, with wines sourced from the USA, France and Italy.
Billed as a journey through Paris, New York and New Orleans, Louie invitingly occupies the tall Covent Garden townhouse which was previously home to L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. It is the sumptuous project of suave, Bordeaux-born Guillaume Glipa (previously of Umu, Zuma, Coya and Chiltern Firehouse) and Laurent de Gourcuff of restaurant and events group, Paris Society, whose venues in the City of Lights include Girafe and Loulou.
With voodoo ornaments, a jukebox, and hand-planished bar counter, the much-brightened ground floor brasserie features an oyster bar adorned with live goldfish at which you can try bivalves raised by Utah Beach, the name given to where the Americans and allies landed to end World War II. Upstairs is a more upholstered dining room with banquettes while the top floor bar, with huge speakers, a fireplace and wall-mounted trumpet-like spittoons also has a leafy terrace with a retractable glass roof.
Dishes by executive head chef, Slade Rushing, combine classic French and “New Orleans revisited Creole dishes” such as kohlrabi clam chowder with potato, fennel and dill, then crispy poussin with roasted Dunkirk carrots, confit garlic and parsley jus.
With designer mine host, Glipa at the helm of the very bold project and DJ sets playlisted by Malik Alary of Hotel Costes fame, Louie is likely to draw a prosperous crowd who already know Covent Garden for Gregory Marchand’s cooking at Frenchie, and the boutiques of Chanel, Dior and Burberry.
The wine list is by Latvian-born, Alvis Nemiro, who previously worked at River Café, Restaurant Ours, and with Glipa at Chiltern Firehouse. It opens with a quote from Tom Robbins’ novel on duelling perfumers, Jitterbug Perfume: “Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air, moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh…”
With a strong focus on Champagne, choose from Rare, Cuvée Louis or Brut Sous Bois by Billecart-Salmon, or Charles Heidsieck (Champagne Charlie), then enjoy the fruits of the 260-strong wine list, some of which is stored in deep, 1950s-style refrigerator cabinets. Nemiro secured much of San Leonardo’s annual allocation of Riesling to pour by-the-glass. Also from Italy, with notes of “nettles and volcanic ash” is the “surprising” red Etna Rosso, “N`Anticchia” by Pietro Caciorgna.
From Burgundy, there are hallowed domaines, Leroy and Ente, as well as a Bourgogne Blanc from the hot property, Arnaud Ente and a disruptive Chablis by Canadian, Patrick Piuze. Also consider wines born from Pont des Arts, a collection of wines born from a friendship between Nicole Rolet of Chêne Bleu and her protégé, Thibault Pontallier. From the USA, renditions include Au Bon Climat, Promontory and Dolce from Far Niente. There is also stock of New Orleans-brewed Dixie lager.
Aiming to “play with the lighter side of darker spirits” according to Glipa, expect lifted “Black Magic” cocktails, available late into the evening, such as the Crocopolitan, featuring Bourbon, hibiscus, toasted almond and coconut, as well as an antique rum collection.
By Douglas Blyde.