It’s not often that you walk away from a restaurant raving about one of the best dishes you’ve ever eaten. But that was exactly the case when we had our fill at Louie in the heart of London’s Covent Garden.
Located on the site previously occupied by Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and just steps from The Ivy, Louie is spread over three floors of a 19th century townhouse and features a 75-cover restaurant, 80-seat bar and glitzy roof terrace. The debut London opening of Laurent de Gourcuff’s French restaurant group, the Paris Society, Louie is overseen by Guillaume Glipa, the “serial restauranteur” and “London hospitality legend” who has the likes of Zuma, Chiltern Firehouse and Annabel’s on his resume, said Elite Traveler.
Apparently named after both the “Sun King” of France, King Louis XIV, and jazz legend, Louis Armstrong, the menu and decor here are inspired by a blend of four cities – New Orleans, Paris, New York and London.
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With its excellent selection of music and an intriguing mix of cultures, Louie has certainly become a popular spot in the West End. So much so that Rihanna celebrated her 34th birthday at the Louie bar in February. This is the kind of “searingly cool crowd” you’ll find here on West Street at “London’s hottest restaurant”, said Tatler.
Celebrating Creole and French gastronomy, it was the New Orleans theme why we were keen to visit Louie in the first place. So, to embrace the taste of Louisiana, we dived right in and went Creole crazy.
As New Orleans is known for its seafood and oysters, it’s no surprise to find them front and centre both on the menu and in the restaurant itself – there’s literally a seafood bar with oyster varieties from England, Ireland and France where patrons can shuck the night away.
Instead of the shell version, from the hors d’oeuvre section of the menu we went for the “deconstructed oysters Rockefeller” to share – butter poached oysters served with spinach, bacon crisps and liquorice root (£15). It may sound complicated, but the taste was anything but – the dish was clean, both in taste and what was left on it. Our other starter was the Louisiana-style crab cake with rocket, giardiniera and a tarama emulsion (£18). Again, we polished the plate.
A saucy little number
Do you remember me saying about one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten? In fact it’s not just the dish itself that was memorable, but the sauce that it came with. Let me tell you about the sensational seafood gumbo (£35).
This classic south Louisiana dish is prepared at Louie with monkfish, oysters, tiger prawns, okra and Andouille sausage, and comes with a side of crab rice. Sometimes served as more of a soup consistency, the gumbo at Louie had a sauce so rich, thick and flavoursome that once we had finished the plate we felt bad that there was some sauce leftover. The waiting staff, who had obviously seen this predicament before, stepped in and asked if we wanted some sweet Louisiana potato bread to mop up the remainders. If I had known about this bread and sauce combo ahead of time I would have ordered just that. Honestly, it was outstanding.
To complement the “surf”, we also had some “turf”. So we ordered a delicious New York strip steak which was accompanied by glazed gem lettuce and a classic French Bordelaise sauce (£45).
The dessert and drinks
After gorging on bread and sauce, we know we shouldn’t have had any dessert, but who can resist the options on the menu here? Keeping with the theme it was recommended to us that we have the southern pecan pie (£13) and praline bread pudding (£10) to share. Both delicious, the latter – with creamy New Orleans praline and a Scotch whisky creme anglaise – was on another level.
Drinks-wise we kept to wine throughout the meal, but Louie’s staff can certainly mix up a cocktail or two judging by the orders flying out of the bar. For the dessert course we paired ours with a wine flight (£22), a trio of sweet wines selected by the sommelier.
I can’t stress enough; the seafood gumbo was a sensational dish and worth visiting for that alone. Louie may be on the pricey end for a midweek dinner, but with its superb dishes, great wine list and excellent music it has all the ingredients needed for a special night out in the West End.
Louie London, 13-15 West Street, London, WC2H 9NE; louie-london.com
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