The Ivy

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For the unconnected Los Angeles restaurant, see The Ivy (Los Angeles).
The Ivy
Ivy Restaurant.jpg
The Ivy, London
Restaurant information
Established 1916
Current owner(s) Richard Caring
Head chef Gary Lee
Dress code Smart casual
Street address West Street
City London
Country England
Reservations (020) 7836 4751
Website Official website

The Ivy is a restaurant which is very popular with celebrities, people from the arts and media and theatregoers.[citation needed] It is situated in West Street, near Cambridge Circus in London and opposite the Ambassadors and St Martin's theatres.[1]

History[edit]

The original restaurant was opened by Abel Giandellini in 1916 as an unlicensed Italian cafe in a building on the same site. Legend has it that the name itself originated from a chance remark by the actress Alice Delysia, who overheard Giandellini apologise to a customer for the inconvenience caused by building works. When he said that it was because of his intention to create a restaurant of the highest class, she interjected "Don't worry – we will always come and see you. 'We will cling together like the ivy'", a line from a then-popular song.[2] The restaurant expanded into the current premises in 1929 run by Giandellini, with his longstanding Maitre d' Mario Gallati as host .

In part due to its proximity to the West End theatres, exclusivity and late closing time (it is still open until close to midnight), the restaurant quickly became a theatrical institution, with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, John Gielgud, Lilian Braithwaite, Terence Rattigan, Binkie Beaumont and Noël Coward being habitués, having their regular 2-seater tables along the walls. According to the actor Donald Sinden in his Sky Arts television documentary series Great West End Theatres, The Ivy became so famous as a theatrical-celebrities haunt that in the 1943 revue Sweet and Low which ran for almost six years at the neighbouring Ambassadors Theatre, there was a satirical sketch included, updated regularly, entitled Poison Ivy, where the show's star Hermione Gingold "would exchange wicked and salacious celebrity gossip".[3][4]

In 1950 Giandellini sold The Ivy to Bernard Walsh and the restaurant became part of his Wheeler's group of fish restaurants. Subsequent owners were Lady Grade and the Forte Foundation. It then closed in 1989 and Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, who owned Le Caprice, bought it. The restaurant was totally renovated to a brilliant[who?] design by American architect M.J. Long incorporating specially-commissioned artworks by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Bridget Riley, Allen Jones, Joe Tilson, Patrick Caulfield, Michael Craig-Martin and Tom Phillips. Fernando Peire was appointed Senior Maître d'.[5] The restaurant opened in June 1990 and became a sensation. Peire left The Ivy in December 1998, three months after the restaurant was sold to Belgo PLC as part of Caprice Holdings Ltd.; Corbin and King departed two years later and went on to establish their own Rex Restaurants (now Corbin & King).

The restaurant seats 100 guests and there is also a private dining room on the first floor of the restaurant, seating up to 60 guests. Mobile phones and cameras are forbidden anywhere in the restaurant or adjoining club and there is a dress code: "Gentlemen are not required to wear ties. Shorts, singlets and micro-skirts are not acceptable forms of attire at The Ivy".[6]

A celebrated[who?] recipe book, written by the restaurant critic A. A. Gill and titled The Ivy: The Restaurant and its Recipes was published in 1997.[7]

The Ivy was the inspiration for the restaurant of the same name in Los Angeles, though they are unconnected.[citation needed]

In 2000, the restaurant was awarded the Moët & Chandon London Restaurant Award for excellence.[8]

In 2005 the entrepreneur Richard Caring bought The Ivy and the Caprice Holdings group, which also owns Le Caprice, which is located behind the Ritz in the St James's area of London, the fish restaurant J. Sheekey, located near Leicester Square, Scotts in Mount Street and 34 in Grosvenor Square.[2] In 2007 Fernando Peire returned to The Ivy in 2007 and was appointed Director of The Ivy and The Club at The Ivy. Gary Lee, who had previously been in charge of Private Functions at The Ivy, returned as Head Chef and was appointed Executive Chef in 2008. Executive Chef Director of Caprice Holdings restaurants (now Caprice Group) is Tim Hughes.

The Club at The Ivy[edit]

In September 2008, The Club at The Ivy, a private members' club with a hidden entrance via an adjacent flower-shop, was opened on the three floors above the restaurant, with membership (drawn primarily from creative industries and the arts) "as hard to get a table as at The Ivy itself" according to the author A. A. Gill.[9][10]

It boasts a Piano Lounge; a dining room ("The Drawing Room"), open from 7.30am for breakfast, lunch and supper; a wood-panelled Library "of books that reflect many of our members’ interests in art, literature, film, theatre, architecture and design"; a film screening-room and entertainment space known as the Loft; a further private dining-room seating up to 14 people and a cigar-terrace.[11]

Its Director is Fernando Peire, the former Senior Maître d', who is also widely known from the Channel 5 TV series The Restaurant Inspector.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′47″N 0°07′42″W / 51.513020°N 0.128402°W / 51.513020; -0.128402