The Ivy on West Street in Covent Garden, has for years had a reputation for being an iconic destination for dining, a hive of celebrity and a den of exclusivity…About ten years ago I went for dinner at The Ivy with my family for my sister’s birthday, as she opened her presents my dad took out his camera about to snap away but he was immediately thwarted by a member staff. Photography was not allowed in this celebrity hideaway much to my dad’s irritation. But things have changed at The Ivy, and not only has it had a gorgeous refurbishment, they welcomed a bevy of bloggers wielding DSLR cameras with open arms.
The centre-piece to the refurbished restaurant is this gorgeous glittering bar and I loved the feminine pink bar stools which reminded me a little of tulips. Despite the changes designer Martin Brudnizki hasn’t strayed too far from the original and the restaurant still retained the classic traditionally British appeal, with lots of wood, leather and mirrors, and the iconic features such as the gorgeous stained glass windows.
With the close proximity to the West End theatres The Ivy was a theatrical institution in the 1930s and was frequented by distinguished guests such as Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Marlene Dietrich and Noel Coward. It’s now owned by entrepreneur, Richard Caring and part of the Caprice group which also encompasses Le Caprice, 34, Scott’s, J Sheekey and the more recent addition, Sexy Fish.
Kelly, Suze, Mina, Catherine and I gathered cosily into one of the olive green booths and we were presented with our bread selection plus and rather thoughtfully, a gluten-free loaf for Kelly.
We studied the menu which still includes all The Ivy classics, I think there would be outrage if the shepherd’s pie was taken of the menu, plus new additions such as an Asian grazing selection. We all skipped starters and went straight for main courses, with everyone ordering something different.
Earlier in the year I’d checked out The Ivy Chelsea Garden, also with Kelly, and I’d had the most delicious prawns. With that fab dish in mind I went for seared black tiger prawns with with kow choi, papaya and chilli jam and beautiful fresh side of tomatoes.
I loved this fresh and tasty light dish and though I’d worried that the sauce might be a little sweet, it was actually the perfect compliment to my beautifully cooked prawns and pleasantly tangy rather than sugary. Gazing over at the other tables I noticed a few people ordering Sunday lunch, which made me think I’d be bringing Mr S back here to try their Yorkshires!
I was sat next to Mina who chose the legendary shepherd’s pie, which looked like the perfect comfort food as the weather is starting to get colder.
Across the table Suze went for what would have been my second choice, a miso blackened salmon served with sesame greens and pickled kohlrabi, a great example of how the menu has been modernised with Asian flavours. Actually back ‘in the day’ it was very difficult to get a table at The Ivy, it really was the place to be. As the original restaurant in The Ivy group, the West Street location still retains it’s air of mystical glamour but expansion of the brand means there are other options. Kelly and I loved our relaxed lunch at The Ivy Chelsea Garden and Catherine told us that the Ivy Market Grill, also in Covent Garden, was fantastic for brunch. The Ivy Cafe has just opened in Marylebone and I’m looking forward to checking that out too.
Kelly loved her grilled Cornish lamb with garlic and rosemary…
…and Catherine tucked into seared scallops with roasted cauliflower and a sauce Jacqueline. Some of the side dishes on the table included cheesy mash, parmesan fried courgettes and glazed carrots. Though talk was more about the latest goings on in our lives than about the food, I didn’t really need to ask as everyone cleared the plates and thoroughly enjoyed their main courses.I skipped dessert and went for a coffee and I loved the gorgeous green crockery and silverware.
Mina chose The Ivy sampler plate which included a prosecco jelly that wobbled temptingly with gold leaf decorating the top, a mini chocolate fondant and a deconstructed cheesecake.
Suze’s choice was definitely the prettiest a Mayan chocolate gold mousse cake which also had a luxurious gold embellishment.
But as I love fruity desserts my food envy was definitely for Catherine’s spiced maple and pecan pear tart served with vanilla ice cream. Once again plates were cleaned, smiles were on everyone’s faces and we were definitely pleased with our choice of lunch venue.
The Ivy may have changed, but in this case change was a good thing, especially allowing cameras into the restaurant 😉
1 – 5 West Street
020 7836 4751