Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Club at the Ivy

9 West Street
London WC2H 9NE

The last time I had lunch at the Ivy restaurant was with the CEO of an ad agency. At 2pm he said "Oh god I better disappear the coach trips will be arriving". I think he wasn't altogether joking. The Ivy in crowd of media biz tycoons and show biz elite were starting to feel threatened by the arrival of 'real people' drawn by the fame of the brand. By then the in crowd had already started to migrate to The Wolseley. Then in September 2008 the Ivy, under Richard Caring's ownership, opened the Club at the Ivy.

Entering the Club is a surreal experience. You rise from the flower shop to the right of the Ivy restaurant to the floors above the restaurant in a tardis like see through lift. The Club is a clever solution to the problem of a very successful restaurant: the in crowd create the demand, the demand drives out the in crowd. The solution: open a club for the in crowd with the same name as the old restaurant and in the same place, and serve up something very similar and charge them membership.

We are having lunch in the Library restaurant. The decor is very similar to the Ivy restaurant and there are the same leaded windows. The only difference is there are books on the walls, some leather arm chairs. The menu too is very similar and, like everything at Le Caprice, J Sheekey and the Ivy, owes everything to Chris Corbin and Jeremy King the revivers of all these establishments and current owners of The Wolseley.
So the menu offers very good simple hearty fare very well executed at pretty high prices (well it is the Ivy). Mains are around £15 to well into the £20s. I have a simple endive salad, my lunch host grilled prawns; and we both follow with the pie of the day which is lamb and Guinness. It is superb. The pastry is flaky and delicious the stock thick and sumptuous. We also have an excellent bottle of oaky white burgundy. The service is also very professional. The club is full. It is more media biz than show biz. I don't see any stars and everyone is deep in conversation. Its all very civilised. Not much signs of recession inside the Club at the Ivy. You would hardly notice the media biz is in turmoil here.

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