The Ivy

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
16 Love It
© David Griffen Photography
© Paul Winch-Furness
© David Griffen Photography
Paul Winch-Furness
© David Griffen Photography
© Paul Winch-Furness
© David Griffen Photography
© Paul Winch-Furness
© David Griffen Photography
© Paul Winch-Furness
Covent Garden

One of the grand dames of the London restaurant scene, recently refurbished and relaunched.

Once upon a time, if you were a celeb, you went to The Ivy. That was back when Chiltern Firehouse could still send a fire engine if your kitchen was ablaze. In the 1990s and 2000s, pretty much all you had to do to be a celeb was to go to The Ivy, and then be papped as you left. It was exclusive in the wrong sense of the word.

But times have changed. The celebs have gone elsewhere. And now – after an expensive five-month refurb – The Ivy is once again open for business. It’s ready for you and me, without the three-month wait once endured by us hoi polloi. Getting a table still isn’t easy, though I eventually secured seats at the bar.

Mind you, it remains a parallel universe. When you arrive, you’re made to feel like you’ve arrived by the charming maitre d’, smiling waitresses attentive wine waiters. The room was always a looker, but it’s been scrubbed up, and it’s now even better than before. The feel’s still classic and timeless: dark wood, flattering lighting, well-chosen art, green leather seating, smartly attired staff. A huge new central bar allows good views of the beautiful mullioned stained-glass windows.

The new menu combines old Ivy favourites with some recent additions. The famous shepherd’s pie is there, with its rich browned-meat flavours, along with old-fashioned seafood dishes such as plaice with earthy brown shrimps, doused in a buttery sauce. The Ivy made its name on this sort of comfort food: it’s like what you might get at a top boarding school, only better.

New dishes have also been included to modernise things a bit. Tea-smoked short ribs is a Chinese dish popularised by Hakkasan. The Ivy’s version was a little dry and chewy, a little sweet, although tasty. But it stood out among the heirlooms – it just didn’t seem to fit in.

Our meal made it clear that you still don’t come to The Ivy for brilliant cooking, but complaining about that would miss the point of the place. It’s a wonderful experience despite some culinary shortcomings. The room is beautiful, and the staff hospitable till the moment the doorman waves you off. This is why The Ivy remains a treasure: five-star service and a room so good you barely notice the three-star food.

Venue name: The Ivy
Address: 1 West Street
Opening hours: Mon-Wed noon-11.30pm; Thur-Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-10.30pm
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Main courses £13.75-39. Meal for two with wine and service: around £120.
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Esther J
1 of 1 found helpful
Staff Writer

Believe the hype it’s a gorgeous venue, harlequin stained glass windows with killer stand out bar that I can only imagine fully comes in to its own come Thursday evenings onwards.

I went for a celebratory birthday do over a Monday lunch time which felt naughty – I’m more a frugal soup kinda girl to kick start my week.

I tucked into Tempura rock shrimp & squid with chilli tofu mayonnaise for starters, which was good but not as good as my mates. I had food envy over his salad of barbecued squid chorizo, toasted quinoa & preserved lemon.

My main was the main event for me utterly delish a Miso blackened salmon sesame greens, sweet yuzu dressing. Oh that dressing worked a dream.

For sure it’s an occasion place, and I love an occasion!


We've been to the Ivy a few times before it's renovation and always liked it very much.

The slick, attentive service, the great wine and the delicious comforting food. Only the ambience was always a bit off, I thought. It was like a large hall, as there weren't any dividers to break up the room.

I think the redecoration has been a major success and entering it feels like walking onto the film set of the Great Gatsby. A beautiful bar dominates the room, where people can eat and drink deliciously looking cocktails. The restaurant looks stunning.

However, we felt that service has slipped a little. We noticed the whole crew seems to have changed (mind them, the place was closed for ages) and waiters were less attentive than they used to be. Service on the whole was not as slick and top notch, as it used to be.

The bottle of champagne we ordered was opened and poured, while we were still sipping on our first round of drinks, when we asked if we could share the Baked Alaska by between 3 instead of 2 people the waitress said she could only split it by 2, but could bring us 3 plates, so we could sort it out ourselves...

I know I'm complaining on a very high level and these aren't terribly important things. However, I'm pretty sure this wouldn't have happened before they closed and re-opened.

The menu has been simplified and a few dishes that had come and gone over the years have reappeared. For example the delicious Watermelon and Duck Salad. Again, in my opinion not as good as it used to be, when I had it first a few years ago, but that might just be me glorifying the flavours of the dish retrospectively.

The Steak I had was cooked to perfection, however, I have had better beef elsewhere, but perhaps you just don't go there for a steak...the fried on the other hand were absolutely delicious.

All in all a great restaurant, you can't go wrong with and I'll be back again. However, I feel they need to up their game a little to go back to old glory.

Nigel C

Just as good as before but with a big, glitzy, new bar. The service was impeccable and the food was great. The shepherds pie never fails to deliver on taste! 

Alex B

This is still a great place to eat. The recent refurb means the dining area is bigger with a bar in the middle which gives the room a good focal point. From the minute you walk in you feel you are somewhere special so it's great for a special celebration or not if you aren't paying! Lots of things on the menu looked great and there was plenty of choice. There are still quite a few old classics on the menu so I was rather boring and went for the fish and chips but was very pleased with my decision. Spotted a few celebs so clearly word is out that this is still one of London's gems.

trisha s

Favourite resturant in London- great food and wonderful unintrusive service -has never disappointed

Samantha H

Beautiful setting in the iconic London restaurant.  The service was fantastic and the food was delicious.  Nothing revolutionary but good British cooking.  Perfect for a special occasion!  There was an air of pretension from other diners but nothing overly annoying and it just reminds you that you are dining in the Ivy!

Charly Lester
Staff Writer

Considering the reputation, I wasn't overly impressed by the Ivy.  It was a fun experience, but more a case of saying I had been there, than actually raving about the food.  It obviously helped that someone else was paying! ;)