“Exactly how a restaurant should be”, says one fan of The Ivy, which has been a Theatreland evergreen for more than a century. While some feared that the brand’s roll out (there are now almost 40 outposts across the UK) would dilute the potency of the Ivy magic, the original site has retained its ineffable air of glamour and sophistication.
A sparkling facelift by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio in 2017 (which coincided with the restaurant’s centenary) has helped to keep the space looking polished; once guests step behind the famous harlequin stained glass, they are greeted by a stunning vintage-styled bar at the centre of the room, while table lamps, plush banquette seating and plump cushions make for sophisticated finishing touches.
The Ivy’s diverse and crowd-pleasing menu truly has something for everyone, thanks to its mix of classic British dishes, Ivy signatures and Asian flourishes (which the restaurant has been doing for years, but feels particularly on trend at the moment).
Despite the breadth of the offering, the kitchen manages to cook each cuisine with equal aplomb. If you’re a stickler for tradition, opt for fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce, or duck confit slicked in orange sauce bursting with sticky citrus flavours.
Those feeling a little more adventurous can mix and match with nori-dusted popcorn shrimp paired with a tongue-tingling Sriracha mayonnaise or the crispy duck and pineapple salad, given extra crunch and kick from a smattering of chilli-laced cashews. Otherwise, there’s always the legendary shepherd’s pie, now with the option to add melted Mayfield cheese on top.
Desserts range from the retro likes of knickerbocker glory and baked Alaska to more modern propositions, such as the delightfully fluffy mint chocolate mousse bar (essentially a posh take on a Mint Aero). The Ivy’s expertly mixed cocktails and enviable wine list are further draws, while the “utterly charming” staff will make you feel like you’re a regular – as indeed many of The Ivy’s clientele are.