If, as Kingsley Amis asserted, the most depressing seven words in the English language are ‘shall we go straight through to dinner?’, then six of the most terrifying words for a hard-pressed law firm partner would be ‘let’s have supper at the Ivy’. Terrifying because, whether said by a client, a colleague or a spouse, they present the insurmountable difficulty of getting a booking at that exalted restaurant in London’s West End where stars of theatre and cinema most like to hang out.
Happily, the Ivy has now solved the problem which its own popularity had caused. It has done this by the simple expedient of cloning itself in a number of different locations around London. There is an Ivy in Kensington, one in Chelsea, and even one as far afield as Wimbledon – the latter presumably aimed at the retired Freshfields partner market.
The one that I thought would be of most use to the average practising lawyer is the Ivy planted in Covent Garden. As will be seen from its opening hours, the restaurant is open all day and late into the night, so there will be many occasions when you may be in the vicinity to take advantage of its fare. Of particular interest may be the pre-theatre and post-theatre menus, which at £16.50 for two courses and £21 for three, represent good value for this part of town. These menus include beetroot salad, roast salmon, bang bang chicken (which, luckily, is better than it sounds), venison sausages, roast pollock, a rigatoni and a steak, so there will be something for all tastes.
Open 8am to midnight
Dinner for two with wine: £75
If the budget is not too constrained, or the client is one upon whom you wish to make a greater impression, then the a la carte menu will not disappoint – and just as importantly will not break the bank. As with all branches of the Ivy, the food is prepared with top-class ingredients and the minimum of fuss – and thus appeals to the metropolitan palette.
The wine list is good and not over-complicated. Wines by the glass can be bought for a relatively inexpensive £5.
But the real point of going to a restaurant such as this is to experience its atmosphere. The room is large and welcoming with high ceilings and a restful decor. Tables are not placed too closely together and yet there is a happy buzz to be heard on arrival. It is the buzz of contentment emitted by worker bees enjoying their well-earned rest.
Like many restaurants, this new Ivy is content for you to roll up and take your chance on getting a table: the service is slick, so the throughput is pretty quick. However, being a lawyer you will probably wish to make sure you have booked in advance. At least now that there are so many branches of this fruitful tree, you will not face the difficulties of previous generations in obtaining ‘a table at the Ivy’.
Christopher Rees is a consultant at Taylor Wessing
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