The Ivy: Go for the people watching, not for the food

Review: Nothing on the plate at this big name opening will distract you too much

Looking out the window of The Ivy on Dawson Street you’d wonder if a Little Londoning of Dublin is happening. To the right there’s a Carluccio’s, just up from it a Marco Pierre White’s. A Wetherspoons would complete that barnacle on the hull of an ocean liner feeling – Dublin as the rummage stall for once glittery ideas from the big smoke.

The original Ivy was opened in London just over a century ago by an Italian entrepreneur. It became famous for its theatre clientele, the beautiful and the damned in their gossipy element. It went through many hands, a succession of golden ages and has sprouted into the Ivy Collection, a chain of more than 30 brasseries and cafes, most of them in London and the southeast of England. Leeds and Manchester will be Ivy-ed this year. The Ivy Dublin is the first branch outside Britain.

In a food bubble it’s easy to imagine that everyone’s talking about this year’s big opening but my friend’s taxi driver thought she wanted to go to a pub in Crumlin and the 11-year-old in our house wondered whether I was headed to the Iveagh Hostel or the Iveagh Gardens. The Ivy’s reputation doesn’t travel much outside a certain zone.

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