Joe Allen to reopen with Russell Norman and Gary Lee at the helm

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

London Covent Garden restaurant Joe Allen to relaunch with Russell Norman and Gary Lee at the helm

Related tags: Russell Norman, Gary Lee, Restaurant, London

Beloved Theatreland restaurant Joe Allen in London's Covent Garden is to relaunch next month with Russell Norman and ex-Ivy executive head chef Gary Lee at the helm.

The restaurant has remained closed since the pandemic took hold in March of last year, and has now undergone a refurbishment with a new bar area created at the front of the space that will be overseen by Norman, which is inspired by the neighbourhood drinking dens of downtown New York with leather banquettes and bentwood bar stools.

Norman - who is also preparing to launch his own restaurant​, Trattoria Brutto, in Farringdon - will serve a 'creative but traditional' cocktail menu at Joe's Bar that includes a Jerry Thomas Manhattan that is made to an original recipe from 1884; 'bone-dry' gin martinis; negronis; and the eponymous Joe Allen Margarita.

"Joe’s Bar at Joe Allen is the bar I always wanted to find in London but never could," says Norman.

"Somewhere with sexy lighting, effortless style, friendly service, live piano and great classic and revival cocktails. It’s the place to go for a pre-theatre dish or two and a Jerry Thomas Manhattan, or to kick back over a few martinis and great bar snacks with friends for an indulgent evening.”

Set to remain open until 'the early hours', Joe's Bar will serve a snacks menu also created by Norman that includes truffled egg toast, a 'signature' from the restaurateur's Spuntino days featuring doorstop white bread with an egg yolk centre, melted Fontina cheese and truffle oil; parmesan and marmite cheese straws; steak tartare toasts; and potato cigars with truffled blue cheese.

Lee, who also previously cooked at The Dorchester, will head up a revamped restaurant menu of American brasserie 'classics'.

Favourite dishes like the full rack of oak-smoked baby back ribs with raw slaw will feature alongside new dishes such as Portland crab and sweetcorn soup; 'three minute' USDA steak with peppercorn sauce and goose fat potatoes; and brick-flattened chicken with black eye bean salsa, corn muffin, chicken gravy and plantain crisps.

Desserts will include pumpkin pie brûlée; ‘flipped’ apple tart with pecan pie ice cream; and New York cheesecake.

“I am so happy to be joining such a creative, fun team of people as executive chef of Joe Allen, a place where I spent many nights after work tucking into a burger or two," says Lee.

"Being the well loved institution that it is, it’s a fantastic challenge and I am looking forward to putting my mark on some of the dishes - a modern approach to brasserie food. Joes has always been a place for people to just go and sit, eat, chat and enjoy the ambiance, its a space where friends meet friends. Long may that continue.”

The new team will be joining Joe Allen's long-standing front of house team that includes restaurant managers Deborah Fellows and Stewart Moss, and assistant restaurant manager Maxine Blythe.

Joe Allen originally opened on Exeter Street in Covent Garden in 1977.

It was acquired by its current owners, London-based restaurateurs Tim Healy and Lawrence Hartley, in 2012, and relocated to Burleigh Street in 2017. 

The newly revamped restaurant will open for soft launch on 17 September, before officially relaunching on 15 October.

Related topics: Openings, Restaurant

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