Sometimes you walk into a place and think, ‘this is a bit of me.’ Or rather, ‘this is a bit of the me I’d like to be.’ This is the type of place that I need to start frequenting on the regular.
Louie London is one such place. As the first London opening of Laurent de Gourcuff’s French restaurant group the Paris Society, Louie arrives with a fair bit of pedigree and has no trouble whatsoever living up to it. This mightn't be the coolest destination in London but, my word, I'd like to find the competition. The whole place oozes class from the glittering bar to the abundance of vegetation to the art-deco decor.
Such alchemy didn’t occur by accident. Louie aims to blend together four cities, invoking the soul of New Orleans, the sophistication of Paris, the sass of a New Yorker, and the buzz of London. I must say, I got much more of New Orleans and Paris than New York but this is no bad thing: there are an awful lot of London bars that wish they were really in Brooklyn.
Managing partner Guillaume Glipa has the likes of Chiltern Firehouse and Annabel’s on his resume so rest assured you’re in the safest of hands. And should you need further convincing, the Louie logo is a very content-looking alligator. That’s just awesome.
What to order?
Oysters, oysters everyone. Order a couple fresh and maybe an Oyster Po’Boy which tastes like the nicest fried chicken in the world. Here's a rogue shout: the parsnip soup. It's extraordinary. A rich warm hug of a dish that dares you not to lick the bowl.
I stayed in New Orleans for my main course of Seafood Gumbo with andouille sausage and crab rice. The gumbo was poured over the rice and then shovelled into my mouth with as much velocity as I could reasonably get away with. There’s a ‘by gumbo it’s good’ joke to be made but I’m too good for that.
My friend’s monkfish tail with french curry and port wine jus was another winner, a gorgeous cut of fish all bronzed and glistening and succulent. The food here does not mess around but you should still leave room for dessert – we went for a warm chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream, as delicious as it sounds.
What of booze? The cocktail menu displays its eclectic influences with the likes of Rockefeller Martini, Alligator Boogaloo and Madame Laveau. No prizes for matching the cocktail to the city – my Fugazy (Bulleit 10yo, Martini Rubino, Martini Fiero, Averna Liqueur, Blood Orange & Elderflower Tonic Water) went down a treat. For wine, put yourself in the hands of Yuri the sommelier who sorted us out with a 2021 Vermentino Di Sardegna that paired delicious with our food.
Will it bankrupt me?
It ain’t cheap. There’s an awful lot of menu to choose from so identifying an average spend is tricky – smash through a dozen Gillardeau oysters at £6.50 a pop and you’ll be tickling three figures before you’ve even got going. Let’s not even consider the Beluga caviar, a cool £275.
Mains range from £19 (roasted eggplant) to £57 (whole BBQ lobster), although the majority are clustered in the £30s. Factor in starters and drink and I’d be impressed if you escape with a bill much under £150 between two and I suspect breaking £200 would be very easy indeed.
But hey, life is for living and Louie is a great place to live it. You are unlikely to regret a penny you spend here.
Anything else to note?
There’s an upstairs lounge bar! One with DJs and jazz pianos and views over the London skyline. Perfect place for a nightcap to round off your evening – or kick it into overdrive.
Oh, and there are also brunch and lunch menus if you fancy paying a visit slightly earlier in the day.
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3-15 West St, London WC2H 9NE; Louie London