The Ivy in the Lanes, Brighton A Review

The Ivy is an internationally renowned and quintessentially British restaurant in the heart of London’s west end and has been an iconic establishment since it first launched in 1917.  As one of Britain’s most loved and in demand brasseries you can find Hollywood A-listers dining with British royals. It’s been said that the roaring success of this superb restaurant is due to its integrity, history and an award winning recipe for balancing fine dining and the highest standards of traditional British hospitality.

In 2014 the company decided to spread its magic and sensitively season a new breed of restaurants from coast to coast.  The Ivy Collection is the new generation of localised fine dining establishments, bringing the inimitable flare of the majestic original, from the exquisite surroundings and impeccable service to the sensational modern British cuisine to which The Ivy is synonymous with.

The Market Grill in London’s Covent Garden was the first and just the start of a fierce four year nationwide rollout. Now with over thirty-three on the map and more to come, this is a very exciting time for the collection.

ASPIRE spoke to the Executive Director of operations Yishay Malkov, who enlightened me about The Ivy Collection. He explained that this national growth is not about recreating the original, but evolving from the well known restaurant and creating accessible glamour for all across the country.   Each restaurant provides the same high standards of cuisine, in an environment that reflects the local region and with the Ivy’s impeccable hospitality.

Each and every one of the collection is carefully thought out. It takes months, sometimes years to find the perfect location and ideal venue. Brighton was always on the top of the list given its seaside chic style, yet it took time and patience to source the perfect backdrop and finally a union between two historical establishments met in the heart of Brighton’s lanes. The much loved grade II listed old post office has been lovingly refurbished into a vibrant all day day brasserie, drawing in crowds since its launch in May.

I was introduced to The Ivy many years ago and I immediately fell in love with the glamour, elegance and sensational cuisine. For twenty years, I have remained loyal to one of my favourite, fine dining brasseries and as soon as I found out that the collection was extending to the south coast I jumped at the chance to review Brighton’s Ivy in the Lanes.  The aim of the collection is to encapsulate the flare of the original whilst making the collection available to a wider demographic, so I was intrigued to investigate.

As soon as you arrive at the entrance of The Ivy you can immediately feel how the building is brimming with life one again. Having housed cafes, clothing shops and market stalls at one point, this once atmospheric post office was again ebullient and distinguished.  The elegant green canopies covering the three large windows give a small glimpse into the wonderful Ivy experience with the iconic logo placed in large bold letters for all to see.

On entering the building you are immediately transported into the sleek and glamorous Ivy world. Two large stained glass doors provide the grandest entrance in Brighton, complete with low lighting and foliage and The Ivy’s trade mark green reminding you that you are now apart of this refined dining experience.

A warm welcome is sure to greet you by the immaculately dressed hosts, wearing well tailored cropped cream jackets – the perfect introduction to a sophisticated evening. It is clear to see that the elegance and maturity of The Ivy has continued through to the collection of restaurants. They say first impressions count and you cannot hep but feel consumed by this extraordinary concept.

In the main restaurant you can feast your eyes on a contemporary celebration of colour and Brighton’s unique tongue in cheek charm with wall to wall brightly coloured artwork enlivening the venue and bringing it to life.

This is a true sensory experience: a magical oasis hidden in the centre of Brighton. Inside feels incredibly cosy considering the high ceiling and vast 6000 sq.ft space. The mix of stylish booths for larger groups and cosy corners for intimate diners are strategically placed around the shimmering central bar, creating a sense of continuity and flow in this hive of calm activity.

The gorgeous burnt orange velvet booths complete with plump cushions offer style and comfort and go hand in hand with the crisp white linen tables. It is apparent that the whole concept has been lovingly and thoughtfully designed to offer the perfect mix of opulence and simplicity.  The atmosphere is relaxed and there is no sense of urgency. This is a place to sit back, chat and simply be in the moment.

Every table is served by their own dedicated waiter who greets their guests, offering a description of the specials and their personally recommended cocktails. It amazing to learn that the staff are put through an intense two week training course which includes sampling the whole entire menu! This knowledge of the product inspires confidence and instils a passion for the company and has clearly really built a sense of camaraderie between the team.

The ample menu covers all from Eggs Florentine at dawn to Grilled Whole Lobster at dusk. There is just the right amount of surprise blended with familiar favourites. Each season, a new menu is launched, with the forthcoming autumn menu offering delights such as white onion soup, lemon sole with caper, lemon and parsley and Iberico pork.

The cocktails are as refined as the venue and make for the perfect start to your evening.  We’d recommend the English spritz for a crisp, light and refreshing libation. Equally as extensive is the handpicked wine menu that features a wide spread range spanning continents and budgets.

There are certain Ivy favourites that have amassed their own following in every restaurant over the years such as the shepherds pie or The Ivy signature hamburger and Brighton’s no exception. If you enjoy seafood, we promise you will experience the freshest fish on the south coast.  Be sure to take a glance at the fish options on the specials board, featuring dishes such as a beautifully presented whole oven roasted sea bream with aromatic fennel, lightly spiced.

When it comes to desserts, the menu is packed with classic favourites with a twist, but the  piece du resistance is by far the divine melting chocolate bombe. As this glorious chocolate ball arrives at your table, the theatre begins as your waitrer slowly pours the hot salted caramel sauce across the crisp shell only to reveal a honeycomb centre with vanilla ice cream. A Willy Wonka moment that is sure to end your dining experience on a tremendous chocolaty high!

As your meal comes to end, be sure to prop the central bar for a night cap and to soak up the electric colours and beautiful design.

The Ivy in the Lanes has some fantastic unique touches including a private dining room that hosts 20 guests and a magical ladies loo. Yes that’s right! The ladies lavatory is fast becoming an Instagram favourite with its glorious golden floral wall coverings, circular design, velvet sofa and true Hollywood glamour fit for a starlet. It really is show stopping!

The Ivy has certainly spread its magic to the South Coast shores with its Gatsby feel, eclectic mix of art and design.  Ever keen to immerse themselves in the spirit of the city that hosts them, The Ivy in the Lanes hosts special events in line with the local calendar, including a Pride inspired brunch with DJs and live entertainment.

This is luxury, but without the prohibitive prices – distinctive and divine and definitely somewhere incredibly special for all to enjoy!