Louie London | Deep South Dining in Covent Garden
Louie is something of a contradiction.
It’s big, yet intimate.
It’s fun, yet refined.
It’s square in the middle of town, yet feels secluded.
And it works.
You’ll find it in the passageways just off the Cambridge Circus in Covent Garden, where it shares a cloistered little island of clam within the buzzing surroundings with both The Ivy and the Mousetrap. And with such monuments to staying power for neighbours, it’s clear that this particular location suffers nothing for its quietness.
Wandering past, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Louie takes up only one floor, and not a huge one at that – inside however, it’s considerably larger than it looks from the outside. In fact, it’s four floors, with a cocktail bar on top. Stepping into the dining room, you’ll find the atmosphere thick with the clink of glasses, the low hum of conversation, and the catchy beat of New Orleans style jazz. It feels like you’re stepping into a little world unto itself.
The space itself is beautiful. The low-lit dining area channels a lot of elegance, thanks to ornate carpeting, flashes of marble, white tablecloths, and Tiffany lampshades, but it never takes itself too seriously, and the plump pillows, the greenery, and the relaxed attitude of the staff all manage to keep things relaxed and, yes, fun. It comes as no surprise to learn the place is named after both King Louis XIV and Louis Armstrong – you can somehow feel both of them spiritually present in there. Like we said, contradictions.
And as for the food? Let’s just say it’s a shame that New Orleans style menus are so few and far between in London. Because, largely thanks to the highly skilled head chef, Slade Rushing, Louie proudly shows off how it should be done. Oysters. Caviar. Sensationally good Louisiana crab cakes. A po’ boy sandwich with cloud-like eclair bread stuffed with fried oysters. A parsnip & lobster soup that has no right to taste as good as it does. A traditional seafood gumbo made with andouille sausage & crab rice. It’s all so, so good.
And then there are the desserts – the traditional pecan pie has been separated into layers and topped with spiced cream. The praline bread pudding comes in a bowl that you’ll want to lick clean. And the chocolate fondant has a hot melted centre contrasted with pistachio ice cream. And they’re all exactly as delicious as they sound.
Head upstairs for a nightcap, and you’ll find Louie’s buzzing cocktail spot – The Alligator Bar – a little Central London oasis which frequently (as in every Tues & Weds) has live jazz playing. The cocktails run from traditional martinis to house originals like Madame Laveau, whose silver tequila is made purple by the addition of blue pea flower & black salt.
Order one, and you won’t be blue for long either.
NOTE: Louie is open now for dinner Tuesday-Saturday (as well as lunch on Wednesdays & Thursdays, and brunch on Saturdays). You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right here.
Louie | 13-15 West St, WC2H 9NE
While you’re in the neighbourhood… here are the best restaurants in Covent Garden.