Charles McDermott, who quit his day job, moved to New York and spent five months in the kitchen at Keith McNally's Morandi, officially opened the 35-cover Augustus Harris earlier this week.
Inspired by the bàcari (tapas bars) of Venice, it serves cicheti and other bar snacks alongside wine and cocktails in the evening, selling wine and Italian produce during the day.
“I’ve always been drawn to Venice and especially the bàcari,” said McDermott. “They don't take themselves too seriously and have a great simple and honest attitude to food and wine.
“I wanted to create a place where you could enjoy beautiful ingredients over a drink and be drawn into the bàcaro experience."
On the menu
Set over two floors, the ‘small and intimate’ venue includes a curved copper bar that displays the cicheti available each day, along with wooden shelves laden with olive oil, wine, pasta, biscotti and other Italian dry goods, all available to take home.
Guests at Augustus Harris can enjoy a selection of crostini such as capocollo with artichoke; porcetta with taleggio; and herbs and mackerel with pickled red onion. Bar snacks will also be available, including fennel, radish and orange salad; anchovy and butter Soldiers; and stracciatella cheese.
It will also offer a concise all-Italian wine list and a range of classic cocktails including Americanos, negronis, bellinis and the Spritz.
Sir Augustus Harris, whose statue stands directly opposite the new venue, was considered the father of modern Pantomime and much loved for his lavish productions. His penchant for good food and drink led to him being known as one of the great bon vivants of the time.
The new Soho?
As BigHospitality reported earlier this year, Covent Garden’s image has transformed from being seen as a tourist dining backwater to a flourishing restaurant operator's location of choice.
In the past year alone, almost 20 retailers and restaurants have jumped on the Covent Garden bandwagon. Jamie Oliver signed onto place his burgeoning Union Jacks brand in the middle of the former fruit and veg market; Raymond Blanc took up the Opera Terracevacated by Chez Gerard; and the boys behind MeatLiquor chose a site in the district to launch sister concept MeatMarket.
Augustus Harris is now open at 33 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London.