Earlier this month I had lunch at La Caprice. Yesterday I went to another former Corbin/King restaurant taken over by Richard Caring. In its day the Ivy was just about the most in place in London. Such places never last: I can recall the great Italian restaurants of the sixties: la Terrazza, San Frediano, Álvaro but cuisine, taste, fashion moved on and before long it was Langans and restauranteurs like Walter Apicella who owned the Meridiana was applying his skills designing outlets for Peter Boizot’s Pizza Express. There was something very seductive about those Kings Road days … and nights!!! I can recall being whirred away in an E-type – no seat belt, driver over the limit – and Daffers displaying a bit of thigh in a revealing Mary Quant mini heady with fine wine was not going to put up much resistance. Nowadays I would be alleging rape!!!
But back to the Ivy. I recently met in Brighton an interesting cove who had numerous business interests in the town including 3 gastro pubs. It transpired that he was in PR and had advised a great friend when he started off his own agency breaking from another where he was a heavy hitter. The three of us duly convened for a gossipy lunch though sad to relate many of the figures mentioned were either retired or in the great J Walter Thompson waiting room in the sky.
I chose pomegranate, walnuts, pear and Gorgonzola salad, it was good but might have benefited from one less ingredient. For mains, I went for pork belly served on mash. This was succulent as pork should be. To accompany I chose courgettes in Parmesan. I rather hope for slightly dusted floret but the courgette was cooked in a heavier batter which was rather too filling. I did not see the final bill.
I have the impression that as with Scott’s and La Caprice the owner wants to take an existing fashionable restaurant a tad more upmarket. The Ivy for example has its own club upstairs. I never really see the point of a restaurant club. It’s not a club in the true sense and why pay a subscription to eat expensively anyway?
As with the old Ivy we had a fun time, my two companions being such a hoot but I thought more of the repartee than the quality of the food. This is not necessarily a criticism as dining out is not just about haute cuisine but having a good time and there is a skill creating the right ambience that the in restaurant always has.