Keith McNally has confirmed that he is hoping to open a London version of his famous brasserie Balthazar on the site of the former Theatre Museum, Covent Garden.

The trend-setting New York restaurateur has also not ruled out the possibility of opening an additional local restaurant in London.

He told Caterer: "I am moving back to London for a few years regardless and it's possible I'll get a rundown place in Notting Hill where I'll be living and do something much rougher, more low-key as well."

The Theatre Museum site was acquired some time ago by London-based hospitality tycoon Richard Caring, whose British portfolio includes Soho House, Strada, the Ivy and Le Caprice as well as Annabel's nightclub. Caring also co-owns with McNally the New York restaurant Pulino's.

McNally commented: "Richard has the site and has submitted plans but they haven't been approved, so that's as far as it goes at the moment. I think the planning and building, if it comes off, will take a while."

New York's 180-seat Balthazar was opened by Bethnal Green-born McNally in New York's SoHo district in 1997 and, if it goes ahead, its Covent Garden sibling will seat 150 diners.

McNally's restaurant empire in New York numbers eight businesses. Besides Balthazar it includes Pastis, Schiller's Liquor Bar and the Minetta Tavern.

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By Joanna Wood

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