“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.
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.
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 Â£21.75 or 3 for Â£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.
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!
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.