The Ivy in The Lanes – Brighton A Review
The Ivy has seen international success; starting in London’s iconic West End in 1917 and lasting the test of time due to its famed integrity, history and its delivery of both stellar food in tandem with exceptional service. Extending across London, Britain and Ireland in recent years, it has spread its wings and solidified itself as a restaurant giant and glitterati hotspot with stars of the golden age of cinema such as Marlene Dietrich being among previous guests.
It started with The Market Grill in Covent Garden, and the rest was history. With over thirty different restaurants, cafés and brasseries, The Ivy would be deemed by most as unstoppable. But no one was prepared for the COVID 19 outbreak, leaving even the restaurant juggernauts quaking in their boots. Despite the catastrophe of this year, The Ivy has now reopened its doors as of July 4th and is ready to wow us again as it has done for over 100 years.
I was introduced to the chain more than 20 years ago, and have remained a huge fan ever since. The pairing of the cuisine with unparalleled glamour to me is inimitable. When it finally came to Brighton, I jumped at the chance to review it, especially to see just how well they could encapsulate the conviviality of Brighton with the opulence of a quintessential West End venue. But its journey to Brighton was a rocky one.
Speaking to the Executive Director of operations Yishay Malkov, he enlightened me about the mercurial essence of The Ivy, and how each venue has its own identity while maintaining the quintessential Ivy values and spirit. Locations are very carefully thought out. Brighton was an ideal place given its chic seaside style, but the meticulous work necessary in order to strike the perfect balance such as the backdrop for the venue took a considerable amount of time. Eventually, it of course found its home in the very heart of Brighton, the lanes. And just like that, a grade II listed old post office was transformed into a chic but vibrant all day brasserie.
The Ivy in the Laines sits within the building that used to be old post office, which has been brought back to life as such a colourful and opulent place. Though so many establishments have found their home in the legendary lanes throughout the years, something about The Ivy settling down here was particularly exciting. I knew from the moment you see the green canopies, it’s clear this is something special.
The Ivy experience begins from the moment you lay eyes on it; but you’re truly transported into a unique, sleek and glassy world upon entry. With the iconic Ivy green omnipresent, from the very outset you are part of this one of a kind experience. Not a detail goes untouched, with fastidious approach to all components imaginable. From the grand glass doors serving as the portal to this glamorous green world to the impeccably dressed hosts wearing cropped cream jackets with exquisite tailoring. The essence of the original Ivy is well and truly here in Brighton.
The decor is vibrant, charming and celebratory. It is a sensory experience. The masters of crafting a totally unique ambience, they effortlessly make a building with high ceilings and 6000 sq ft of space seem intimate. Larger booths and smaller corner setups are expertly placed to make the most of the space and maintain a sense of cosiness.
The staff exude charm and confidence. They are as enjoyable to look at as the decor. The burnt orange booths create an effortless combination of warmth and elegance. Despite it being such a vibrant and buzzing place, guests feel relaxed at all times. This unrivalled atmosphere allows one to truly live in the moment and just be.
The waiters are delightful as they were insightful. Upon visiting, the waiting staff always take time to describe the different dishes with immense pride and pleasure, happily answering any queries one may have had. With the knowledge of the intensive training all staff members do, including tasting the entirety of the menu, guests can afford a huge amount of confidence in the team. The waiting staff are as knowledgeable as they were passionate about their work, and this creates a great sense of camaraderie among the team.
The menu has a fantastic amount of variety, from Eggs Florentine at dawn to Grilled Whole Lobster at dusk. There is a sense of ambition and excitement with unconventional dishes but also a wonderful sense of familiarity with classic restaurant staples.
The cocktails, no exception to the rest of the experience, are refined and perfectly crafted. Be sure to start the evening with a superb English spritz which showcases the mixologist’s expertise, and be sure to take a recommended as to which wine would compliment your meal. When we visited, we opted for the Martinborough, craggy range Sauvingon Blanc as highly suggested by the manager as we had both chosen the white fish. To no surprise, they were a match made in heaven.
To begin, I had the yellowfin tuna carpaccio with tomato, watermelon, ponzu dressing, miso Mayo and sesame. If you’d like to know *just* how much we enjoyed it, I will admit that I returned half a dozen times over several weeks to relive the experience, although swapping my spritzer for a much-needed flute of The Ivy champagne. Always reinventing their star dishes, this dish has been updated to include cucumber, baby basil, apple, jalapeño and avocado sauce which I’m keen to try when I return.
My dining partner ordered the tempura prawns; crunchy fried Nobashi prawns with pickled mould, cucumber, edamame and a matcha tea sauce. Texture wise, they provide a perfect balance and did not leave her overpowered and reluctant to eat her next course. The newest update of this contains wasabi, miso sauce and spicy Sriracha.
For my main, I chose the blackhead cod fillet; baked in banana leaf with citrus-pickled fennel, grilled broccoli and chill yuzu mayonnaise. The texture was fantastic and overall the dish was superb; with a truly succulent flavour and evidently outstanding cooking. Though the Ivy is renowned for so many different dishes, I simply cannot recommend this dish enough particularly if sea food is your bag. The fact it remains on the menu unchanged speaks volumes to its popularity.
My fellow diner also went for the fish, which was an oven roasted sea bream with lightly spiced aromatic fennel. Although this is no longer available, I have heard rave reviews from friends about the monkfish and prawn curry which is a stellar alternative.
Olsi was the name of the chef who prepared our food, and given the electric atmosphere we knew that everyone was immensely enjoying the cuisine.
Though the first two dishes were nothing short of divine, Olsi’s magnum opus was the melting chocolate bombe. Luckily, this is still on the current menu. Our jaws hit the very beautiful floor when the waitress arrived; pouring hot caramel sauce across the crisp shell to reveal a honeycomb centre with decadent vanilla ice cream. It was craftsmanship Willy Wonka himself would have envied.
We ended the night with a cocktail at the bar, which was a wonderful excuse to even further marvel at the interiors. Even the toilets are known for their beauty; with the gold flowery walls becoming an essential photo op for keen Instagram users. It is incredibly rare that somewhere can creative a simultaneous vibe of exclusivity and inclusivity. Each detail is opulent and grand but the atmosphere and the price point is welcoming to all.
In the wake of Covid-19, The Ivy has made a formidable commitment to prioritise the wellbeing of patrons over anything else. This includes thermal cameras, tracking software for all employees and professional deep cleaning and disinfecting on a daily basis. One can only assume the thermal cameras are luscious green and diamond encrusted, I intend to go back soon to find out.
For more information about The Ivy in The Lanes or to book your table, you can visit theivybrighton.com for more details