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.
“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.”
“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.”