26 July 2014

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Get into the independent spirit on 4 July


If someone took a snapshot of the foodie zeitgeist these days, it would definitely be greasy, meaty and probably American. The popularity of American grub seems to grow exponentially with every US-inspired opening or exciting new import to arrive from across the pond.

From burgers, meaty mountains of pulled pork, gooey mac 'n' cheese to soul food from the Deep South, you're pretty spoiled for choice in London.

Whether you're a homesick expat or feel like celebrating with our transatlantic buddies, get patriotic and plate up with some of Square Meal's top US-inspired restaurants and foodie events for 4 July.

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Due to open 4 July

Five Guys NEW
One of the most anticipated US imports to hit the UK this summer, Five Guys is set to grace our shores right smack on 4 July in Covent Garden. Hugely popular stateside; even Barack Obama has been spotted queuing up for a bite. You know the drill: burgers and fries. Roll up.

Soho Diner NEW
This new hotspot from the stylish Soho House Group has taken inspiration from Chicago’s Au Cheval restaurant, so expect similar Franco-American dishes. Philly cheesecakes, honey chicken drumsticks, and quinoa, spinach and almond salad will also shake up the all-American menu. The big central bar will serve London’s first ever cocktails on tap, too.

Joe's Southern Kitchen & Bar NEW
Navajo Joe has been reincarnated into Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, an ode to the best in Deep South cooking. It goes beyond the burger, showcasing soul food classics from Louisiana. Check out the blackened catfish, southern-style mac ‘n’ cheese or New Orleans gumbo.

More crackin’ American restaurants

shake shack 2013 - atmosphere_shackburger_Shake-Shack-2013.jpgShake Shack NEW (opens 5 July, pictured right)
Danny Meyer is the mastermind behind this big US import, which opens its doors on 5 July in Covent Garden’s tourist honeypot. If your 4 July festivities somehow roll onto the next day, we reckon fun-loving Shake Shack is where to keep it all at a climax. Get your fill on Smokeshack burgers, crinkle-cut Yukon fries and ‘bird’ dogs.

Psychic Burger NEW
Live-music legend Birthdays is behind the new ‘burgers and beers’, blue-collar joint Psychic Burger. Brioche burgers and fistfuls of cocktails (try the bourbon iced tea) fit the bill perfectly after an energetic gig.

Draw up a stool at Soho’s coolest hangout, a New York urban experience from restaurateur Russell Norman. US-style comfort food includes truffled-egg toast – so good, it makes obesity seem like an attractive lifestyle choice.

Big Easy
Big Easy is a pitch-perfect rendition of the Stars and Stripes in culinary form, from the finger-lickin’ ribs to the down-home pecan pie. Ask for a table in the flag-strewn basement to enjoy rock-and-roll hits from the live band.

Cut at 45 Park Lane
Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck's chain of high-end US steakhouses are a draw for celebrities Stateside and the brand's London outpost gives us Brits a bite of the glitzy apple. It’s undoubtedly expensive, but if your pockets are deep enough, this is an import based on the sort of professionalism and can-do cheerfulness that Brits associate with US eateries.

Lowcountry Bar & Eating House
This cavernous space in Fulham trades on regional cuisine from the southern wilds of the US. Seafood gumbos, bourbon shrimps, fried green tomatoes and whiskey-laced BBQ ribs spice up the menu, while a dedicated raw bar should please seafood junkies. An outdoor beer garden and smokehouse sets the mood for summery days.

Dark, loud and in your face is how Meatliquor runs the show. This wannabe truck-stop diner deep fries its pickles, the tatted-up staff wear caps and flannels and serve up some of the meanest burgers in London, while cool rockabilly tunes match the high-octane environment. Try the ever-popular ‘dead hippie’ burger (London’s answer to In-N-Out’s ‘animal-style’ double cheeseburger, loaded with grilled onions, pickles and sauce).

Pitt Cue Co (pictured below)
This celebrated restaurant that sprung from the loins of a street-food wagon serves bourbon-laced cocktails, monster beef ribs perfectly sticky and blackened, and all manner of sides, from spicy 'slaw to mash topped with 'burnt ends'. A thumping soundtrack of American rock completes this hip experience. No bookings.

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Bodean's (all branches)
The cheerful diner-style set-up at Bodean’s is perfect for groups and rowdy birthday dinners with a deliciously messy and shareable menu to match. The all-important slow-smoked BBQ ribs has the power to reduce Yanks to tears of joy. Live sports from across the pond adds to the jumping vibe.

Lucky 7
Feel like The Fonz at this chic boutique diner in west London that serves breakfast all day, as well as malt shakes that come in three thicknesses.

4 July foodie events 

Truck Stop (pictured below)
London’s biggest street-food night market rolls into town on 4-5 July from 5-11pm in Canary Wharf. A dozen food trucks will be making three pit stops in the capital this year (1-2 August and 5-6 September). Tickets cost £10 each and include 10 ‘Truck Stop dollars’ to spend in the cocktail and beer bar.

Annual hot-dog-eating contest at The Blues Kitchen
Camden’s The Blues Kitchen will be celebrating Independence Day with its annual hot dog eating competition. Participants will be invited to try and trump last year’s record of 19 dogs in 30 minutes. Expats: bring your US passport or driving licence and receive a free drink!

Byron introduces the Big B (all branches)
Byron sets out on yet another gruelling research trip to Los Angeles with the aim of capturing its laid-back, sun-soaked lifestyle into a burger. The result? The Big B. A double cheeseburger served in a potato bun, with sliced pickles, onion and a secret Byron sauce. Get into the LA groove from 2 July-26 August. £9.50.

4 July set menus

The Riding House Café (pictured below)
The Riding House Café will be offering an Independence Day set menu available all day for £25. US-themed goodies such as the ‘Red, White & Blue Independence cake’, supersized buttermilk pancakes and peanut-butter and jelly smoothies are well worth the calories.

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This elegant American institution in Covent Garden is suitably patriotic on 4 July, offering a new set menu for the entire week until Friday 5 July. The menu will include BBQ pulled-pork tortilla, apple slaw, avocado relish and hickory sauce to start, followed by USDA rump steak, grilled Maine lobster, slow-cooked short ribs and maple-whipped sweet potato. £38/45 (2/3 courses).

Sticky Fingers
Sticky Fingers is the pet project of former Rolling Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman, which may explain the explosive, unashamedly riotous mood. Heavy-duty grills are the headline act at this US-inspired eatery, and you can expect more of the same on its 4 July set menu. Flame-grilled BBQ chicken, Cajun blackened salmon and hickory-smoked ribs are some meaty mains, while NY cheesecake and deep-crust apple pie satisfy sweet tooths.

This feature was published in July 2013.

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