dines at The Ivy...

Last night the Hubby took the 9yo and I to The Ivy, before we went off to see Chicago the musical.  The 9yo has wanted to see it for some time, and the Hubby thought the treat would be complete if she ate somewhere lovely first - she is a bit of a foodie already, and The Ivy was arguable the closest good restaurant.  It's also part of the Caprice Holdings which owns, amongst others, J Sheekey's and Scotts - two of my all time favourites!

It's been some time since we at at The Ivy, and we'd remembered being distinctly unimpressed on previous occasions, but, you can get carried away with the hype of some restaurants and here we were again.

The doorman leapt to open our cab, but didn't really look at us and was on a mobile phone - perhaps someone inside the restaurant was giving him instructions?  We encountered chatting staff at every stage until we reached our table.  Little details like this niggle me - you don't get it in well-run restaurants.

We were actually given a decent table for The Ivy - I have often felt that there was a distinct division in the room - and this seemed less apparent last night.  Gradually though it became apparent that there was no division in the room, because most of the people in the room were food tourists...  This is the second time in a month that I've been in a very well-known dining room and felt that I was part of some art installation - there were people in tracksuits (?), groups of girls who looked as though they were on a hen night (?), large Americans prodding their food, and random groups of business people openly talking about their deals...

I distinctly remember the first time I went to The Ivy about 15 years ago - it really was full of luvvies.  The food had been good, but we had been placed in Siberia and felt very much that we were on the outside looking in.  Last night felt quite different.  The atmosphere had really changed, there was no tinkling laughter, and chinking glass...

But enough of the room - how about the food?  The staff knew that we were on a fairly tight schedule, and took our order promptly - we opted to go straight to mains, so that the 9yo could fit a dessert in.  Drinks were ordered, some didn't arrive.  The tables on either side of us managed to get through at least two of their courses and we sat patiently waiting for our main courses.  After over 30 minutes, a member of staff said that dishes were just being plated up - now the 9yo had chargrilled chicken, the Hubby had a veal chop, and I had yellow-fin tuna - I could have turned this out in 30 minutes...  Finally after over 45 minutes our food arrived...  It was cooked proficiently, but it's difficult to say it was good when you've waited so long for it.  It looked as though it could have come out of any kitchen.

The veal came with anchovies, capers and a fried egg on top - perhaps an unusual combination, but the Hubby said they went very well together.  The 9yo's chargrilled chicken came with broadbeans and artichokes, and looked very nice.  My tuna was actually a very large chunk - perhaps more reminiscent of a piece of fillet streak - and was medium-rare.  It was served with bok-choy, and noodles - the noodles were undercooked and weren't slippery with the sauce, more a staccato counterpoint to the tender tuna.  We also had a herb green salad, the parmesan courgettes, and the 9yo had a portion of chips.  These arrived separately to the main course.

Main course over, we waited about 10 minutes for someone to clear the plates, despite indicating that we were finished.  We ordered the 9yo a selection of sorbets (passion fruit, strawberry and lemonade), and I ordered a coffee.  The sorbet came... We waited... No coffee... By now the Hubby was getting quite agitated.  We considered abandoning it altogether, but it appeared just as we were signalling for the bill.

When it arrived the Hubby complained - the food had taken far to long to arrive - things had arrived in parcels, some items hadn't arrived until we had pointed out their absence...  Given the reputation of The Ivy, and the prices they charge, it really wasn't acceptable.  They apologised, but took no responsibility - we should have been told that if we didn't intend to eat a starter, our main course would be at least 30 minutes....  We weren't told that, and frankly, for a restaurant of this repute I think that's utter rubbish.  The kitchen can't cope with orders coming in randomly?  When we arrived at 6.15 practically the whole restaurant was packed - most people were already on their first courses, and within minutes, their second courses.  And why had someone apologised to us for the absence of food after 30 minutes, promising its imminent arrival?  It really isn't good enough.

So, people - if you have been to The Ivy recently, I'm sure you already know what I'm talking about...  If you haven't - foodies - please go to J Sheekey's - the food is better - the atmosphere is better - the staff are more efficient!  If you do want to go the The Ivy, make sure it's to impress someone who really doesn't eat out in London.  Rather damningly, the hubby compared it to Garfunkels, and it's got to be 20 years since we ate at one of those!  I fear it's going to be as long before we'd eat at The Ivy again.

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