The Ivy

The Cure are the most romantic and evocative group of all time. If you’re ever having one of those days where you’re feeling cold or heartless, stick them on, and you’ll find your soul right there. ‘A Letter to Elise’ is the most ambrosial melody you’ll find in four minutes. Whether he knows it or not, it’s where Noel Gallagher swiped his most sublime solo from, on Live Forever. The greatest gifts humans bestow on each other are often subconscious, spiritual and inherited. And The Cure are the gift that keeps giving.

Their atmospheric harmonies, however, have a time and a place: Weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs all are fine. But handle with care during sex and, under no circumstances, after a break up. Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer will testify.

Like The Cure’s music, the best restaurants are uniquely atmospheric. They also have their own time and place. Picking the wrong one at the right time is the difference between your proposal’s ‘yes’ or ‘no!’. The risk of taking a first date to somewhere too brilliant is real. You wouldn’t take someone you love to KFC or someone you hate to Luca

But what about The Ivy? “The celeb-infested, shepherd’s pie place…. Cool in the 90’s” – you snear. No, you’re wrong. It might just be the perfect restaurant for any occasion. It’s Hakkasan without the brass and Nobu without the STDs. It’s always full. And it’s not a members’ club. It must be the only restaurant in London that can boast that.

The Ivy is over one hundred years old. And from the moment you walk in you are  transported back at least fifty of them. But not in an affected way. There are no experiential actors here. It’s more akin to James Cameron’s Titanic where eras cinematically melt into each other. The Titanic comparisons don’t end there: the plates, décor, seating and even the menu are firm nods to the great Unsinkable. There’s a beautifully written article on that here:

The celebs and glitterati have left for Chiltern and the crowd is now a mixture of luivies, cajan tigers, rubberneckers and, well these two:

ivy rich temi

The Ivy’s menu is a who’s who of greatest comfort food hits. (Now That’s What I Call a Menu 1970-2018.)

We ordered as much as we could. And you really can’t fault any of it. The signature Mark Hix Shepperd’s pie really is the best I’ve ever tried.

shephers pie

The Bang Bang chicken is, of course, …..

Deep-fried haddock, mushy peas and chips or Steak & kidney pudding will keep the hungover happy and hanging.

For pudding there is Baked Alaska, Golden pineapple and Chocolate steamed sponge.

But perhaps the best of all is Burnt banana & butterscotch tatin. Experiences you’re convinced you’ll hate, but are then blown away by, are powerful. Like watching Kula Shaker at the V Festival. (Naaat).

Nothing here is cutting edge. But that’s the point, stupid. Life is short. Too short for deconstructed pizza, keto diets and Fyre Festival sandwiches. The Ivy delivers. The proposal’s a ‘yes!’. We must savour these moments.


And when all this is finished, and you’re feeling giddy driving home, ask your cabbie to play The Cure for a cold, hard dose of (beautiful) reality 🙂

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Restaurant, chef and food enthusiast.

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