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The Ivy

Restaurants, Contemporary European Covent Garden
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(22user reviews)
© Paul Winch-Furness
© Paul Winch-Furness

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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.

The Ivy says
The Ivy has been a firm fixture on London’s dining and social scene since its foundation in 1917. With its shimmering central bar and signature harlequin stained-glass windows, the restaurant is the epitome of glamour, serving seasonal menus featuring Ivy classics alongside modern British dishes.



Address: 1-5 West Street
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square tube
Price: Main courses £13.75-39. Meal for two with wine and service: around £120.
Opening hours: Mon-Wed noon-11.30pm; Thur-Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-10.30pm
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Users say (22)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:1
2 people listening
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!


I'm not a crazy fan of the ivy but when in need of a drink or two and something light to wash it all down.. I tend to find myself within one.

I went for dinner the other but came away concluding that the ivy will be best for simply drinks where I'm concerned. The meal we ordered at £18-£22 each wasn't lovely at all. It was very bland and there was such a lack of effort it was sad.

Really classy. The decorariton takes you back to the 80s.

The food, although quite expensive, is very good, specially the breakfast and brunch menu.

Strongly recommend trying the yogurt and the avocado, spinach benedict eggs

Food is very disappointing, shame compared to its cafe yes the cafe in Richmond which has far superior food and warm service as expected!

Spent 2 hours at the table with a 3 course meal with cocktails and wine only to be rudely told to shuffle out of the restaurant.

If you're not a celebrity, don't expect any common courtesy or manners from the staff although you've spent the equivalent bill. Sad to think that the staff are stuck in a fictitious world which I would like to remind them that they are just serving in.

Loved it! High quality modern and traditional british food served from profesional staff in a glamorous restaurant.

Highly recomend this place if you are in London!


As a theatre lover, I've been waiting for my chance to try out this British actors' and agents' favourite hideaway for quite some time. I couldn't manage to book a proper table so we ate at the bar. 

It's totally hidden from the street due to thick stained glass windows (perhaps part of the reason why the celebs love it?). Decor-wise, you can expect old school glamour from the pink bar stools (which I found infuriating as they wouldn't allow you to twist sideways to talk to your dinner partner, but still, pretty they were), to the little art deco style lamps throughout. 

When you walk in, I have no doubt that, as we were,  you will be treated to top-notch hospitality. Someone will take your coat, someone will show you to your table, and you can have as much or as little interaction with the staff as you like. We chatted lots to the barmen who were all particularly helpful. Better still, they knew their wine history and told us all about what we were drinking. I also had an amaretto sour as an aperitif, which, whilst smaller than I would like, was very tasty. 

Onto the food. I started with the not-so-traditional popcorn shrimp and it was delicious. I moved onto plaice for the main which was also very good, I particularly enjoyed the shrimp butter it came with and the fish fell off the bone easily. Portions of meat and fish are quite large but you will need to buy sides to share. We had the creamed spinach, a tomato salad and some chips, which was slightly too much for two people really. Everything was served fresh, hot and quite frankly were just everything you'd want from your side dishes. 

A meal with two cocktails,  two courses, a few sides and half a bottle of medium priced wine is likely to set you back in the region of £150-£180 so be aware of that, however I think in this instance it was worth the bill as we really enjoyed it. My only drawback is that I felt the atmosphere was slightly lacking due to a lot of suits having business dinners and no audible music although I appreciate the reasons for this are so that people can talk in private and in peace! 

I very much hope that The Ivy will last another 100 years, bravo. 

Tucked away behind Liverpool street, this is a nice find for a classier evening apero or a lazy brunch on a hot summer’s day. The Ivy city garden feels much more spacious and inviting than its neighbouring cocktail bars and restaurants. You’ll be able to find plenty of seats inside and outside, as well as a wide range of drinks and food (try the baked sweet potatoes with kale pesto and yoghurt or the caramelised hazelnut goats cheese salad and you will not be disappointed). The venue tends to be more pretentious side of the spectrum, as you can tell from the uniforms worn by staff as well as by the clientele, which tends to be quite dressed up. Coupled with the stylish and quasi-opulent decor, reminiscent of Fitzgerald’s 1920s New York, the Ivy stands out as a venue for a more special night out or a celebratory weekend treat. 

Despite living in London for over six years I had never been to the Ivy, and we took the opportunity to go when family from up North were in London for a birthday treat. It was the perfect setting for the occasion, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The venue is beautiful, art deco with an imposing bar in the middle of the restaurant. The food was delicious with a wide range on the menu. I went for sesame prawns and John Dory with girolles and rainbow kale and it was stunning. We all had something different and everyone loved it. We all ordered from the A La Carte Menu and the bill was around £300 for the 4 of us, but they do offer a great value for money pre-theatre menu too.

The Ivy is a true classic, an institution and everyone should go at least once.

The Ivy has to be on everyone's wishlist if you haven't been there. Try Bang Bang chicken starter followed by Shepherd's Pie for culinary heaven.


It's a classic. No, more, it's legendary. Tucked away behind stained glass windows, The Ivy offers first class service without pretension and, thankfully, without the need of a 6 month waiting list for a table. 

It's a fabulous place to take someone to show off, especially if they don't realise that a) there is no waiting list for a table, and b) the celebs have mainly moved onto newer spots! The prices aren't really that scary, and the food descriptions won't upset purists - Shepherds pie is shepherds pie... Fish and chips are fish and chips (and both, by the way, are very very tasty!). 

TIP - there is a table for 2 in the middle / back of the restaurant that is like a 'half booth' that faces outwards and offers great views over the whole restaurant. So should there be a famous face in attendance, this is the table to spot them from. 

I don't get the hype for this place. I've lived near the Ivy in Beverly Hills and now near this one in London, I've been to both. I think it's an over-hyped eatery that gets too much publicity, it's only popular because it's frequent by celebs. That's exactly the type of place I want to avoid! But again, I'm a little biased and do not adore it. I did like the venue and stainless glass inside! If you want to go there, go there cause of the venue and not the food. If you want memorable food, forget it and go somewhere else.


I've always wanted to go to The Ivy, ever since I spotted those beautiful multi coloured windows near Covent Garden and TBH it exceeded my expectations. I went with my mum on a 8.45pm booking, yah yah a little late so v hungry, and we'd already booked through the website plus they'd text earlier to confirm the booking. We were welcomed by the staff through the famous doors and seated at the bar in comfortable sumptuous pink chairs. The bar man was lovely and we ordered a bottle of wine plus tap water (God forbid tap water in The Ivy)! The menu was full of tasty options and I went with scallops (£22.50) with a side of spinach and skinny chips (between £4 and £5 for extras but plenty of options). It was splendid, cooked to perfection and was just enough food without being TOO much which crucially left enough room for dessert which was a chocolate honeycomb mousse (£7.50) plus a couple of Calvados to finish off! If I could choose again, I'd probs go Cheesecake or I spotted others having Chocolate soufflé pudding thing with pistachio ice cream. And on that note, must go back!


I haven't been to The Ivy since it's refurbishment, so was looking forward to seeing for myself what all the fuss was about (what with all those raving reviews and The Ivy documentary). I must report the place looks gorgeous. Whoever handled the design deserves a standing ovation, as the place has really opened up and the new centre bar is a beautiful focal point of the dining room (they have good bar snacks going too). There's some very nice new art hanging on the walls too. But that's where 'new' and 'stellar' end. They still have two booking lines going: one for celebs and the big spenders and the other one for us mere mortals. We got bumped up to the celeb line courtesy of a friendly PR exec, but I imagine getting a table for 2 at 7 pm may be frustrating. The Ivy website shows no availability until much, much later on any day I've tried when making the original booking and also now, as I sat down to write the review, although I know for a fact this is not true. That is, of course, if you are privileged enough to be in the celeb line. And then, of course, they have several sittings and 2 hour slots going (to be fair, they let us stay longer). Exasperating it can be. At least the food and the service are decent and at times actually exemplary. They have introduced an Asian grazing menu (sesame tiger prawns portion was massive and delicious too), which is slightly confusing to me, but is a welcome addition nonetheless. All in all, The Ivy deserves a visit but not the queuing. With all the new Ivys that have sprung up across the capital, the original Ivy is actually facing some in-house competition, if you ask me.

Staff Writer

I have been to the Ivy before and since the new opening. This restaurant speaks greatness in every single way. The service is spot on and friendly, the food is divine and the cocktails....oh yes please 

The new design is fantastic, the moment you walk in the bar is there to greet you (this coming from a non drinker!). The new layout, opens up the restaurant and gives the atmosphere a much better feel. I have eaten with a table seat and have also enjoyed a spot at the bar for some snacks. The bar stuff are so friendly and on point, I had a few non alcoholic cocktails and really recommend the Halcyon Days (without the gin). My husband had a beer type cocktail which he enjoyed very much. 

On our last visit we were seated at a table, once again friendly and helpful stuff. On this visit I had the Sirloin (medium rare) with a side of Pommes allumettes, mu husband ordered the Crab macaroni. We both very much enjoyed our dishes, delicious as always.  

I love the new design of the Restaurant in particular the centre bar where you can dine while looking across the whole restaurant. The Art Deco decor and the buzzy vibe go along way to making this one of my favourite dining destinations and they actually also have a relatively priced pre-theatre menu so for a quick bite before the theatre its a great option for a boozy business lunch it works and for a nice romantic evening dinner with a bit of celeb spotting it's perfect.

The Ivy with its amazing reputation hardly needs reviewing. But it is exactly therefore that I feel it is worth saying that unlike so many places it lived up to, no, outdid expectations. Not and easy feat when expectations are so high. What makes a difference at a place like this, is that on top of the great decor, Art , incredible and simple yet oh so great food ( I genuinely don't think I can enjoy banger and mash anywhere else again!), cocktails, wine and to die for desserts (ooops, we tried it all) is the impeccable friendly service. Not a hint of snobbery. We hadn't booked and weren't dressed for the occasion, yet they sorted out a table for us, and treated us fantastically. All-round wonderful night! 


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.

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! 

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.

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


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!

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! ;) 

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