It's always nice to greet a milestone birthday looking your best, and The Ivy aims to do just that. The celebrity haunt closed its doors in January for a major makeover in preparation for its 100th anniversary.
"The Ivy was the reason why I bought Caprice Holdings in the first place," explains owner Richard Caring. "There is an aura to this restaurant that reaches far beyond the food, service and atmosphere... it has a mystique to it, and it’s my privilege to safeguard this. But the future is fast approaching, and we need to ensure that we’re standing in good stead for it."
Time has been well spent during the renovations, with everything being renewed with the exception of the famous stained-glass windows. They've also auctioned off the previous artwork, cutlery, glassware and even linen from the restaurant at Sothebys with proceeds from the sale (over a million pounds) benefiting the charity Child Bereavement UK.
The Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (Ivy Market Grill, Holborn Dining Room) has been brought in to work on the kitchen, restaurant and private room. The bar has been moved from the front to the middle of the room as a "dining bar" with pink leather and mohair bar stools and there are new booths and banquette tables. Those stained glass windows now have a mirrored effect which should be most noticable at night, while letting more light in during the day too.
And they'll be replacing quite a lot of the art too, with "major commissions" from British artists (Maggi Hambling, Damien Hirst and Ian Davenport), as well as a range that focuses on emerging names from the British art scene. Some art from Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi and Barry Flanagan does remain though.
As for the food, Executive Chef Gary Lee stays in charge and he's created a new menu of Ivy classics alongside modern dishes with international influences, with a particular nod to Southern Europe and Asia. That will include:
- Raw and pickled vegetable salad with chia and citrus vinaigrette (£9.75)
- Corn-fed chicken breast with pumpkin pistou and mojo verde (£19)
- Tossed salad of barbecued squid with chorizo, toasted quinoa and preserved lemon (£11.50)
- Yellowtail tuna sashimi, pickled ginger, wasabi cucumber pearls (£14)
- Togarashi popcorn rock shrimp with kewpie mayonnaise (£11.50)
- Amalfi lemon panna cotta with raspberry granita (£8)
Plus there's an entire section on the menu dedicated to potatoes and Bang Bang chicken, peanuts & chilli (£9); the legendary Shepherd’s pie (£17.75) and The Ivy Hamburger (£14.75) are all on the menu. There will also be a steak menu of daily cuts and sides that include Parmigiano courgettes and Farro with edamame beans and pine nuts.
Ivy Director Fernando Peire will continue to run front of house and says “I have been involved with The Ivy for the largest part of my career but it still astounds me how far our reputation reaches. It is a much loved restaurant and has become something of a national treasure. The Ivy's latest refurbishment heralds a new chapter in the life of the restaurant, and one in which I am sure she will shine more brightly than ever."
The restaurant will reopen June 1 2015. The Club at The Ivy will remain open to members as usual while The Ivy is being refurbished. For more, see their website.
Photo by Paul Winch Furness.