London Theatreland restaurant Joe Allen is to reopen after 18 months of closure, overseen by a new team including Polpo co-founder Russell Norman.
The restaurant, which has been shut since March 2020, will open for a soft launch from 17 September before fully relaunching on 15 October.
It marks a homecoming of sorts for Norman, who started working as a waiter at the restaurant in 1989, progressing to bartender, maître d' and manager over a 10-year period.
Now he is set to oversee the newly created Joe's Bar, a New York-style tavern at the front of the restaurant, while former Ivy executive head chef Gary Lee is behind the restaurant menu.
Joe's Bar will feature a dark walnut counter, leather banquettes and serve cocktails such as a Jerry Thomas Manhattan; gin martinis; and the Joe Allen Margarita. Bar snacks will include Norman's signature truffled egg toast – white bread with an egg yolk centre, covered in melted Fontina cheese infused with truffle oil - a favourite on the menu at his London restaurant Spuntino.
Norman, who is also opening his own London restaurant this month, said: "Joe's Bar at Joe Allen is the bar I always wanted to find in London but never could. 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. It's only taken 45 years but finally it's here."
Lee, who has also cooked at the Dorchester, will put his own spin on classic Joe Allen dishes while introducing new items to the menu. These will include a ‘three-minute' USDA steak with peppercorn sauce and goose fat potatoes; and brick-flattened chicken with black eye bean salsa and a corn muffin, chicken gravy and plantain crisps.
Norman and Lee will be joined by Joe Allen's longstanding front of house team; restaurant managers Deborah Fellows and Stewart Moss and assistant restaurant manager Maxine Blythe.
Lee added: "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."
Joe Allen was founded in 1977 and was taken over by London-based restaurateurs Lawrence Hartley and Tim Healey in 2012.