For much of the nineties and the early 2000s The Ivy was the talk of London; an exclusive, celeb hang out, where the food was good but it was more about being there (and being papped arriving/leaving) that truly mattered. Getting a table here was close to impossible. But slowly, as these things go, things changed, and other restaurants – namely Chiltern Firehouse – started to take centre stage. The Ivy and The Ivy Club (which seemed to attract the c-listers) took an unwilling backseat.
Then, at the end of last year, the Ivy suddenly opened a sister property – Ivy Market Grill – bang in the middle of tourist-central Covent Garden. A more affordable version, where walking in without booking a table (unheard of at the Ivy) was an option.
Following that came the exciting rumours that they were opening another ‘affordable’ branch, but in Chelsea no less, and in the space which Henry J Beans had occupied for all of my teenage years (and which instantly brought back some drunken memories). The best of all was news that they were completely renovating the (already quite pretty) outside area and turning it into a luscious green garden terrace, with fountains ‘n all.
The result is undeniably beautiful. But the problem is that, like the original Ivy, getting a table for dinner or weekend brunch or tea or even a glass of tap water, was close to impossible. Unless you wanted to wait a few months. Which I didn’t. And so we decided to try booking a table for a mid-week breakfast, at 8am (when it opens). And that worked a treat.
There is something incredibly sophisticated about going out for a pre-work breakfast. Especially when you have about five waiters to yourself. I ordered a Flat White, a Green juice and their scrambled eggs with salmon. Their breakfast prices are very reasonable (relatively speaking of course) and the food did not disappoint (apparently dinner isn’t as good here though, so perhaps avoid that).
It’s the perfect way to start your working day; buzzing from very good coffee, refreshed from a healthy blend of avocado and celery and energised from eggs and salmon. The only draw back is that the garden only opens at 10am, but sitting inside isn’t a hardship. I loved their pale green brasserie-style interiors, and if you sit by the window you get the views of the gardens. But seriously though, the English countryside-style gardens are the real show-stopper (I had a little walk around).
The original Ivy, by the by, has recently had a multi-million pound renovation and has been welcomed with rave reviews from tough critics. Perhaps it’s time to get over myself (and my pride) and call reservations.
97 King’s Rd, Chelsea
Photos by Paul Winch-Furness