The Ivy

The Ivy business card

“The Ivy is one of London’s most in demand restaurants” says the The Ivy’s website and I’d agree with that – I’ve always found it a bit of an uphill struggle to get a table. But good news! Luckily for me, a friend of a friend put in a good word and bagged me a table for a pre-theatre dinner for me and my parents. But bad news! They only had space in the bar area. We were however promised to be first in line to be upgraded to the restaurant if a space became available.

The outside

We arrived at The Ivy and were greeted by a delightfully charming doorman and cloakroom lady. We were then shown through to the small bar area and were seated at one of the only tables laid for dinner. The white table cloth made it look a little out of place as the rest were laid bare and were for diners having a pre-dinner drink. The table was so tiny we barely fit around it. I felt extremely uncomfortable sitting there, with people filing past us to get into the restaurant. Spare parts we certainly were. Sitting there was a bit like going to see a Shirley Bassey concert but listening to her singing from the car park. Why they would sit anyone in the bar area for dinner is beyond me – it should be used for pre-dinner drinks only.

The bar

The bar

We had to ask for pe-theatre menus as only the full menus were offered and then we were presented with only one – hello there’s three of us! The waiter informed us, somewhat unnecessarily, that we had to order the pre-theatre by 6pm. It was only 5:30 however. The pre-theatre menu was 2 courses for £21.75 or 3 for £26.25. Feeling rather unloved and underwhelmed by our surroundings we decided to skip starters.

For my main course I opted for the grilled beef rump steak, caesar salad and chips. The steak was cooked medium rare as requested but was a little bit chewy. The sharp steak knife became a trusted friend of mine. The chips were heavenly; a beautiful blend of crunchy and soggy and they were perfectly seasoned. The small bowl of salad (complete with one crouton) had a nice tangy caesar dressing which I also really enjoyed.

Steak

Chips

Salad

For dessert I chose the apple and rhubarb crumble pie with clotted cream. Crumble and pie? Sounds indulgent – and it was. The sharp rhubarb helped cut through all that rich crumbly pastry and thick clotted cream but it was awfully filling – which is fine by me!

Crumble pie

Service was efficient but lacked the friendly factor. Fernando Peire (whom you might recognise as being Channel 5’s Restaurant Inspector) was working the front desk of the restaurant during our visit. He masterfully swooned over almost every customer who walked through the door – apart from ourselves – he didn’t look at us once. Nor did anyone ask us how are meal was when we’d finished. For a restaurant that seems to rely so heavily on regulars the staff appeared to have forgotten to charm us plebs sitting out in the cheap seats.

Despite a less than wonderful experience during our dinner at The Ivy I’d really love to give it another go – but I’d just make sure I get a table in the ruddy restaurant next time and hopefully the service would be a little more charming. The food was pleasant enough and I left feeling pretty full. I also left feeling pretty dejected.

5/10

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8 responses »

  1. Oh dear! What a disappointing experience.

    Reply
  2. Any where that someone has to ‘put in a good word’ for me to get a table can bugger right off. I’d be interested as to why you’d like to go back, given the food was only ok and they treated you like that? Is it really that iconic anymore? The Ivy always seems to me a bit fusty and traditional, though I’ve never been!

    Reply
  3. It sounds an awful meal but yet you want to go back! What do they need to do? Beat you with a stick? :-)

    Reply
  4. Such a shame as couldn’t be further from my experiences there. I went for the first time in a decade earlier this year having been taken once during the height of its fashion around 2001. Called up at 2pm and got a table for two in the main restaurant pre theatre at 5.30pm same day no problems, in fact it was half empty even when I left at 7.15. Prices havent changed at the Ivy in the last decade so what seemed expensive then is pretty reasonable now. I’ve been back once more in Feb and had no bother booking (at 1 weeks notice) and had great food and am going again in a few weeks as its now seemingly my Mum’s favourite place. I would give it another try if you’re minded to.

    Reply
  5. I’ve never struggled to get a table (although i do book a few weeks in advance and I’m never aiming for 8pm on a Friday) using the online booking form, and I’ve been four or five times and it’s definitely my favourite London restaurant in both food and service, I’d definitely give it another shot!

    Reply
  6. I used to dine regularly at The Ivy in the 1990s and both the food and service were excellent. I’ve only been twice in the past 10 years because on both occasions the food has been mediocre and the service efficient but unfriendly. It’s really gone downhill and I can’t see why anyone would choose it. If you really want The Ivy, then try The Ivy Club.

    Reply
  7. understand restaurants can have an ‘off night’ but the surly service would put me off from going back and giving them my hard earned cash to be treated with disdain. sometimes front of house forgot they’re on stage and should be treating every customer the exact same regardless of whether they are C list celebrities or plebs like us!

    Reply

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