We called New York’s British invasion a little while back, but London’s most significant import just arrived from overseas. Considered an institution on the posh King’s Road stretch, modern brasserie Bluebird flew the coop over the Atlantic and perched itself inside the equally ritzy Time Warner Center.
Cofounders Des Gunewardena and David Loewi brought many of the original’s acclaimed touches to Bluebird London, primarily the restaurant’s love of whimsical illustrations, scattered like Easter eggs throughout the dining spaces, and lush greenery taking root in unexpected places. And while it’s pretty hard to beat the restaurant’s (blue)bird’s-eye view of Columbus Circle, there’s much more to this brasserie than good looks and a great setting.
It has perfected the quintessential British classics.
Forget what you know about British food. Executive chef Nicholas Houlbert flips the script on the region’s love of hearty pub grub and elevates signature comforts to sophisticated new heights. Take a close gander at the rich pork terrine wrapped in a puff pastry blanket, new-wave Chelsea buns even a great English baker would envy, and a piping sticky toffee pudding balanced out with a scoop of bloody delicious black pepper ice cream.
And let’s not overlook the Boulud alum’s take on fish-and-chips, which is arguably the best version you can get in the city. Crackling skin coats the plate-size piece of buttery cod, melting almost instantaneously upon hitting your tongue. Alongside your seafood comes thrice-fried potatoes, zesty smashed peas, malt vinegar served out of a crystal bottle, and pore-tingling garlic tartar sauce. It may look like the bar food you’ve come to know and love, but smart tweaks here and there make it perfectly fit for a dandy gent.
The presentation is Instagram-worthy.
Bluebird London’s admiration for dramatic presentations doesn’t go unnoticed. Truffle-tinged Madeira sauce poured atop the black angus beef Wellington for two, hazelnut praline mousse hiding inside a chocolate bluebird shell, and a cornucopia of cured meats spilling over its rustic wood slab are just some of the details sure to catch your eye. Even the bartenders present their libations in an artful manner; a bed of flower buds lies at the foot of the gin- and elderflower-kissed English Garden, while the Thyme for Tea is vesseled inside a delicate floral teacup.
The afternoon tea is the bee’s knees.
You might want to extend your lunch hour for Bluebird London’s relaxing midday tea. A three-tier platter filled with quaint finger sandwiches, tangy tarts and jellies, hearty scones, and plenty of clotted cream is a treat for all the senses, as is the gin-based cocktail and sparkling wine that comes with it if you don’t have to head back to the office. Even better, proceeds from this month’s pink-themed afternoon tea will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We’ll drink to that.
The view alone is worth a visit.
Intimate access to such postcard-esque cityscapes is rare to come by, so try to convince the host to seat you next to the windows. There you’ll find yourself endlessly gazing at Central Park’s changing leaves from three stories above, only stopping for breaks when your meal lands on the table.