Call them the neocolonials. A new wave of natty londoners has taken New york by storm—and brought a dose of blighty to the big apple.
Fort Defiance, a little bar in Brooklyn, recently threw a party for Evacuation Day, the long celebrated but now forgotten holiday marking the final retreat of British forces from New York Harbor in 1783. Nothing wrong with a little retro patriotic jingoism, but this outer-borough contingent seems to have missed the real story: the British have retaken Manhattan in force. Sure, there’s always been a cross-pond mutual appreciation society between New York and London. (We feel sophisticated over there; they can relax here.) What’s different about the newest British invasion is that it’s not just bankers buying co-ops, rock stars on furlough, or weekend holidaymakers with pounds to spend. With the arrival of the latest crop of restaurateurs, hoteliers, and tastemakers, New York is getting a shot of British style.
The tycoon is behind Le Caprice (and its new Manhattan outpost), the Ivy, J Sheekey, Daphne’s, Scott’s—as well as London clubs Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar.
“Opening Le Caprice in New York City was a natural choice for us, it was really a matter of when.”
Sir Philip Green
The billionaire British retailer brought a dose of glamour to budget fashion, installing Kate Moss as a designer at Topshop and opening a flashy flagship store on Broadway in a down economy.
With the Spotted Pig, English chef April Bloomfield introduced the concept of the gastropub to a city without pubs. Now she and co-owner Ken Friedman are hoping to re-create some of that magic with the Breslin at the Ace Hotel. Bloomfield, who was introduced to Spotted Pig partner Mario Batali by Jamie Oliver, comes to New York by way of London’s River Café.
“My first night in New York I ate at three of Mario Batali’s restaurants. I was incredibly stuffed!”
In addition to his expanding shelf of books and his growing Fifteen restaurant empire, the former Naked Chef debuts the U.S. version of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on ABC this season.
“The incredible variety of food in places like Flushing, Queens, is mesmerizing.”
Husband and wife Tim and Kit Kemp run the stylish stable of Firmdale Hotels, including the Soho Hotel, Haymarket, and Knightsbridge, in London, and now the Crosby Street Hotel, in SoHo.
“Just like New York, the Crosby is all about color, individuality, and a sense of community.”
Along with well-known multitasking co-owners Graydon Carter and Jeff Klein, King has turned Monkey Bar into that very English of institutions: the restaurant as private club.
“New Yorkers are infinitely more social. In London, chaps demurely nod at each other across the room, while New Yorkers are hugging and slapping each other’s backs—they seem to enjoy themselves so much more.”
The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
Crosby Street Hotel
Situated on 5th Avenue in the historic and affluent Upper East Side, Le Caprice is the stateside cousin of a famous brasserie in London with the same name. The atmosphere is a unique blend of art deco chic with a pop twist--a modernist palette of black and white serves as a nice complement to the Tihany-inspired cylindrical lighting and the many photos of 1960's supermodel Jean Shrimpton. Chef Edward Carew and his experienced kitchen team serve up timeless Continental favorites such as steak tartare and shellfish bisque with classical execution. Reservations are a must!
Topshop, New York
In recent years, the SoHo neighborhood has received a great deal of attention for its increasingly eclectic mix of trendy, boutique stores, and Topshop's presence is a testament to this. The inventory is a satisfying spread of versatile basics like jeans and jersey tops, fashion-forward, glitzy frocks, and top-shelf collections from the likes of Kate Moss. Topshop is comprised of four floors of cutting-edge inventory, neon lights, and flashy signs. The shoe lounge on the third floor has bold offerings, mostly consisting of five-inch (or taller) heels, while the men's section (in the basement) is a bit more toned down with its array of button-downs and denim.
Monkey Bar, New York City
Replete with red leather banquettes and low lighting, the glamorous and intimate Monkey Bar has a long and colorful history dating back to the days before World War II (playwright Tennesee Williams is said to have mysteriously choked on an eyedropper cap here, which lead to his death). Men in bespoke suits—think AMC's Mad Men—would come here after-hours and eat and drink their weight in oysters Rockefeller and gin martinis. The Monkey Bar was purchased in 2009 by Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter, at which time acclaimed illustrator Ed Sorel painted an elaborate mural of Jazz Age titans. You can still order old favorites like the creamy lobster thermidor, as well as more imaginative dishes, such as the Nora Ephron-inspired meatloaf.