London's most iconic dining rooms
Category : Restaurant
Address : 1-5 West Street, London, WC2H 9NQ, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.the-ivy.co.uk
Opening Times : Mon-Sat 12pm-11.30pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm
Closest Tube : Leicester Square
Private Dining Room : Details
What words can be used to describe The Ivy, a restaurant that has been synonymous with London‘s lustrous demimonde since it first arrived on the scene, just shy of a century ago, in 1917? Classic. Iconic. Landmark. All of these have been bandied about so often that one risks sounding hackneyed, or missing the point, when using them. At this point in time The Ivy has been woven in the warp and weft of this city, and with the sensitive relaunch it has been given, it promises to remain in London‘s cultural fabric for perpetuity.
A well placed shot in the arm has made The Ivy the place to see and be seen once more. In January the restaurant was closed for the refurb and an array of signs, cutlery, glassware, artwork and other artefacts went on auction at Sotheby‘s, many of which were snatched up for surprisingly steep prices. In came Martin Brudnizki Design Studios, currently London‘s heaviest hitter in the industry, to spruce the dining room up. Needless to say, they did a bang up job.
The entry has been broadened to create a larger sense of space, and the room has been given a focal point with a triangular shaped bar circumscribed with pink and mohair leather stools. Fresh artwork has been added to the already remarkable collection, with new pieces from Maggi Hambling, Damien Hirst and Ian Davenport. Many of the features have remained intact but have been enhanced by significant grace notes - the mullioned stained glass windows, for instance, have been improved with silver mirrored panels that add extra luminosity to the room during both day and evening.
Chef Gary Lee remains captain of the kitchens and has rejuvenated the classic offerings of shepherd‘s pie, bang bang chicken and The Ivy burger with some more youthful international-inspired flavours. Starters of sea bass ceviche with zesty aji rocoto, lime, avo and plantain crisps put some fire in our mouths, while tempura rock shrimp and squid with togarashi and tofu mayo was simultaneously fresh and lashed with umami. They would have been accomplished exemplars of the form at respective Peruvian or Japanese restaurants. For mains we had to go with a classic fish and chips, the batter buoyant and golden and the opalescent haddock flaking off in thick chunks.
Getting down to brass tacks, The Ivy is a legend, and legends do not go gentle into that good night. This restaurant is part and parcel of London culture, and will be for years to come.