Londoners enjoy a taste of the Big Apple as some of NYC’s best-loved restaurants open up shop. Aoife O’Riordain reports.
he relationship between London and New York has always been a bit special. These two great world cities have a lot in common. Increasingly so when it comes to their eating habits, with several New York restaurants, which are eager to emulate their success on the other side of the Atlantic, scheduled to open this year and next in the British capital. You could be forgiven for thinking that you had arrived at the wrong place, but the front of La Bodega Negra (+44 207 758 4100; labodeganegra.com) on Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho is an ironic nod to its surroundings: the basement restaurant’s ground floor exterior reads “Sex Shop”. This London sibling to hipster favourite, La Esquina, in downtown Manhattan, had queues out the door when it opened last March. Similar to New York, upstairs it’s a walk-in style diner with a Mexican slant, featuring the likes of tacos and tostadas. Londoner Keith McNally moved to New York in the 1970s and since then has become one of the kings of the city’s dining scene, with a clutch of über-trendy eateries. Among them are the Meatpacking District’s Pastis, the Minetta Tavern and the all-day dining Balthazar, his Parisian-style brasserie-cum-bakery set in Spring Street in the heart of Soho. So it was only a matter of time before he decided to bring it all back home.
Needless to say, Balthazar London, set to open in Covent Garden’s Russell Street, promises to be one of the capital’s most hyped new openings this autumn. Manhattan hotspot, SUSHISAMBA was immortalised in the television series Sex and The City and the party atmosphere still prevails, even though Carrie and pals have moved on. Its Brazilianmeets-Peruvian-meets-Japanese menu has proved popular stateside with a chain of four restaurants. Its first European venture opened in July in arguably one of London’s most spectacular dining rooms – on the 38th and 39th floors of Heron Tower, the tallest building in the City of London (+44 203 640 7330; sushisamba.com). Here diners are treated to menu favourites such as the Moqueca Mista, a stock of shrimp, squid and lobster with coconut milk, cashew nut and chimichurri rice as well as the El Topo roll of salmon, jalapeno pepper, shiso leaf, mozzarella and crispy onion. Come nightfall, the twinkling lights of the capital work their magic with The Shard, The Gherkin and Tower Bridge all visible. Meanwhile, the BBC World Service’s former home has been transformed into the home of the newly opened ME Hotel. Its restaurant, which opens this October, is the first European branch of STK (stkhouse.com), imported from Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
3 global restaurants ...
NEW YORK The first Hakkasan (hakkasan.com) was tucked in a basement down a tiny alleyway off the wrong end of Oxford Street, but its winning formula of sophisticated Chinese cuisine, killer cocktails and its signature glamorous interiors has found fans all over the world. Its latest American venture opened in West 43rd Street in Manhattan in April and several more are planned.
The view from SUSHISAMBA on the 38th and 39th floors of London’s iconic Heron Tower takes in the London landmark, The Gherkin.
bOlOgNa Bologna is one of Italy’s most celebrated gourmet hotspots and right in the centre of the city’s atmospheric historical centre is Eataly bologna (eataly.it) – a fitting tribute to all things Italian. Part of a growing chain, which now also has a sprawling branch in New York, it encompasses a market, grocery store, café and several restaurants all under one roof.
The American invasion of London does not stop there either – London’s diners have further culinary imports to look forward to. André Balazs plans to open his first luxury hotel in Marylebone next year; it is rumoured that the achingly hip Standard Grill may be the in-house restaurant. Meanwhile, with a site secured in Mayfair, Londoners will soon be able to enjoy the relaxed yet sophisticated approach of A Voce to traditional Italian fare. Its two branches in Manhattan, at Columbus Circle and Madison Avenue, are already firm favourites with Italophile New Yorkers, thanks to delicious riffs on classics conceived by executive chef Missy Robbins. Watch this space ...
paRis One of France’s most celebrated chefs, Joël Robuchon, has found worldwide fame with his expensive mini-chain, l’atelier de Joël Robuchon. His take on haute cuisine tapas can be found from London to Las Vegas. However the original, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and with 40 seats set around a sleek black bar on the Left Bank of Paris, remains the most chic (joel-robuchon.net).