Second Big Easy restaurant and bar to open in London

big easy chelseaThe team behind the long-established Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack in Chelsea are opening a second restaurant in London’s West End featuring a cocktail bar.

The new Big Easy restaurant and bar will open in Maiden Lane in Covent Garden in February next year, covering 10,000 square feet over three floors.

It will serve American-style fresh-smoked barbecue and seafood, including its signature lobsters, while a ground-floor bar with a nine-metre counter will stock over 500 bottles of spirits and liqueurs.

The bar team will be headed by Lee Potter Cavanagh who was group bars manager for Hix restaurants in London and, previously, worked in Sydney, including bar manager of The Victoria Room.

To recruit the best bar staff, they have launched the Big Easy #Draft2014, a cocktail competition open to anyone regardless of previous experience. They are looking for all roles from head bartender to barback as well as apprentice bartenders.

Taking place on December 10 and 11, competitors will demonstrate their skills and approach to hospitality through a series of activities judged by industry experts.

They need to register by December 6 via, providing a CV or biography, 100 words on their most memorable experience in hospitality and which slot over the two days they would like to attend.

The drinks list will offer classic and original cocktails alongside imported purpose-built cocktail machines that will dispense frozen Margaritas and other cocktails such as Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.

The menu will also include “Boozy Juices” and milkshakes with an alcoholic twist and an extensive list of craft beers including exclusive brews on tap.

It will stock over 500 bottles of spirits and liqueurs on nine levels of shelving with a focus on Scottish, American and other imported whiskeys as well as tequilas, rums and French and Spanish brandies.

Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack was opened in Kings Road, Chelsea, by restaurateur Paul Corrett over 20 years ago, modelled on the crabshacks found on the American Gulf Coast since the 19th century.

The new restaurant and bar is being opened in the site of a former branch of international restaurant chain The Mongolian Barbeque. It is being designed by hospitality specialist Macaulay Sinclair.

The site is part of a former electrical power station built in 1883, owned by the Gatti brothers and first used to light their own restaurant The Adelaide on the Strand. The Gattis went on to form the Charing Cross & Strand Electricity Supply Company, which powered the first “bright lights” of the West End.

The interior will honour the building’s original heritage, retaining many authentic features, such as copper conduits, brickwork, and steel and concrete girders, complemented by industrial lighting. Other Big Easy features will include Americana, nautical details and neon lobsters.

A central feature will be the nine-metre theatre-style kitchen on the lower ground floor. Focus will be on a “wall of fire” comprising two 2.5-metre Argentinean-style parilla charcoal grills as well as a two-metre rotisserie spit that will roast whole hogs, and a 2.5-metre wood-burning oven.

A dedicated barbecue pit area will house two 1.5-tonne J&R wood-burning smokers imported from Texas where meats will all be freshly smoked on the premises using a variety of woods, including oak, hickory, apple and cherry, for up to 18 hours to impart their unique flavours.

The menu itself will be based around the barbecue pork and beef cuts, rare-breed British steaks, and fresh seafood as well as wagyu beef and traditional-breed pork.

The lobsters will be sourced all year round from Nova Scotia for their consistency, flavour and quality. A specially designed 1,500kg lobster tank has been built on the premises to house almost 2,000 live lobsters with sizes ranging from one to 10 pounds.

The kitchen team includes executive chef Kenny Callaghan, former chef partner of legendary New York restaurant Blue Smoke, while the pit master will be Pete Daversa, former pit master at Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York, who has worked at Blue Smoke BBQ in New York City and Hong Kong.

Big Easy will also offer live music seven nights a week, with two to three sets a night.

Paul said: “As London’s love of barbecue, lobsters and steaks continues, I am absolutely thrilled to offer the evolution of the Big Easy to Covent Garden.

“No-one in London is cooking with wood and charcoal in such an unprecedented way. Fresh barbecue straight from the smoker is the holy grail for barbecue aficionados and we are aiming to provide local residents, workers and visitors alike with the most comprehensive genuine, quality US-style barbecue and seafood dining experience in the UK.

“This will truly be a return to extravagant social dining of a bygone age, with great food, drinks and music in a relaxed, vibrant and unforgettable setting.”

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