The original Bluebird on the King’s Road is among London’s most historically scene-y restaurants. Twenty years in a plum west London location, originally stewarded by Sir Terence Conran, a takeover by luxe-casual impresarios D&D, and various appearances on Made in Chelsea have given the bar and restaurant a certain type of cultural clout — and deep pockets.
And so it is: Bluebird London — New York City is now open at the Time Warner Centre, home to Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-starred Per Se, two restaurants from Momofuku’s David Chang, several restaurants serving steak, caviar, truffles, and champagne, and, now, one of New York’s only restaurants to make the journey from — and thus represent — London. Another, The Clocktower by Jason Atherton, gained a Michelin star in its debut year. This does not seem likely for Bluebird.
Not one, but two zero star reviews have eviscerated the fledgling restaurant. One, from the New York Times’ Pete Wells, and two, from Eater New York critic Ryan Sutton. Both could strike up new conversations on old, often tired themes: the supposedly irredeemable nature of British food; the abject diversity and stifling bankability of commercial dining’s chosen operators; Brexit. More immediately: Bluebird London New York City sounds like a bad restaurant, and here, in both reviews’ best lines, is why.
Ryan Sutton, Eater New York
Pete Wells, The New York Times
“To comprehend the complex awfulness of Bluebird London — a soulless, overpriced, and curiously packed British import at the Time Warner Center — it helps to recall some vintage English sketch comedy. The actor Rowan Atkinson, in his famous “Steak Tartare” skit, contorts his face a thousand different ways while choking down a grayish patty of raw meat. Instead of sending it back, however, he hides the remnants in a small tin of salt, in a woman’s pocketbook, and down the pants of a tableside violinist. Everyone else in the restaurant is oblivious.”
“Maybe the people in charge have been taking management cues from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, which has approached its Brexit plan like a class of first graders trying to build a working jet airplane out of Lego pieces and a flying-squirrel sock puppet.”
“The chef, in turn, is publicized with just two short words: his name, which I’ll respectfully withhold since the menu feels like it was cobbled together by a mercenary consultant or an AI-concocted algorithm instead of a culinary professional.”
“When you have finished the puzzle, please savor the warm feeling of accomplishment for a moment, because it goes away once the food arrives.”
“The mac tastes like what would happen if a college student microwaved ziti with supermarket shellfish bisque and waxy pre-shredded cheese.”
“This is more than can be said for the potato chips that come with an order of beef tartare. They are pale, cobweb-colored, not fresh, and undercooked so they sag and fall apart beneath any amount of beef.”
“The initial flavor was bland, quickly followed by a fetid, ammonia-like tang. It was an aroma that recalled room-temperature hamburger meat from a grocer that lost power. I felt my eyes water up as I chewed. I tried to swallow. I felt my entire GI tract prepare to purge.”
“Because you are in an English restaurant, you will be curious about the English food. Because you are in Bluebird London, you will regret this.”
“If something comes with a pastry crust, exercise caution.”
“Let me be clear: Bluebird is New York’s worst new restaurant of 2018.”