A restaurateur who has worked at some of London’s biggest and big-money names has announced he will make his solo debut. Guillaume Glipa, who counts Umu, Zuma, Coya, and Chiltern Firehouse as former employers will open Louie — a joint venture with Laurent de Gourcuff, the man behind Paris Society, a similarly big-money operation from the French capital. The restaurant, on which it appears no expense or indeed source of inspiration has been spared, will attempt to meld influences of New Orleans, New York City, and Paris when it opens on the former site of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Covent Garden next month.
Louie, which draws on several eras for inspiration, is named after Louis XIV and Louie Armstrong, and hopes to do a hell of a lot: “Invoke the soul” of New Orleans, the “sophistication” of Paris, and the “sass” of a New Yorker — “all set on London’s stage.” The owners say they will privilege comfort in a “home from home environment” but guests can also expect to be “constantly surprised and delighted by happy accidents.”
The food will be overseen by acclaimed chef Slade Rushing, a James Beard-nominated figure who left New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s last May. He and the restaurant, according to Eater NOLA, played a role in reviving the dining scene in the city’s French Quarter over the previous half decade. In London, Rushing will journey guests to “the crossroads of New Orleans creole gastronomy, French cuisine and the culinary heritage of New York City,” per the announcement. This will translate into ‘deconstructed’ oysters Rockefeller, New Orleans style barbecue lobster, po’ boys, tarte tatin, and banana foster rum baba.
Meanwhile, plenty of it sounds deliberate. Glipa, inadvertently(?) taking a swipe at the London restaurant industry is said to have “envisioned a restaurant in which the flair would be put back into hospitality so that the entire experience would be akin to being on a movie set” according to the official announcement today.
To give a sense of the project more widely, Glipa says, poetically:
As the evening grows darker, muted sounds of a jazz piano murmuring from above lure you to the upper floors, leading you into an open lounge with fireplace and the roof terrace garden. Swathed in antiques and curiosities, you find yourself in a space at the edge of infinity, where time has paused to pay homage to an era in which prohibition led the people together, all in search of moonshine.
Elsewhere, and in what sounds like an indiscriminate dip into a pool of colonial loot, the interiors will feature “antiques, tribal masks and curios,” which “have been used to create intrigue and play to the cultural and historical references of the prohibition of alcohol, jazz and voodoo,” per the announcement. The decor hopes to be “simple and authentic, celebrating the modest” while the design, more generally, they say, “echoes a new form of luxury” based not on vast open spaces, but “nooks and crannies” to get “lost in” while promoting “excitement and intrigue.” This will all be set to a soundtrack, designed by Malik Alary (behind the soundtracks for Hotel Costes in Paris), which is described as mixing “modern beats with traditional jazz.”
And yet, beneath the reams of marketing distraction, there are indications that Louie’s food — drawing on a cuisine that is by no means overexposed in London — ought not to be written off in advance.