The Ivy, West Street, London

A visit to the original Ivy in London

The Ivy has been a name synonymous with style and an iconic piece of London history. With the spread of The Ivy throughout the UK, it was time to visit the original.

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The Ivy has been part of the London scene since 1917, starting as a cafe when owner Abel Giandolini and Maître d’Hôtel Mario Gallati joined together to serve the local theatre community. Seemingly the name The Ivy comes from a conversation between Giandolini and the actress Alice Delysia. Giandolini apologised for the building works being carried out and Delysia replied in the words of a popular song of the day: “Don’t worry, we will always come to see you, we will cling together like the ivy.”

The restaurant enjoyed a refurbishment in 1990 and again in 2015 and although it might not be the place to celebrity spot as much today, it is still an icon of the London scene.


Please note that the menu has changed since we visited. Also it has taken a while for me to write this up as I lost the dessert photos!

Food and drink

We started our afternoon with a hot spiced negroni – Hayman’s gin, Campari, vermouth, mulled spices, cranberry and salted honey. 100 years legacy – Plymouth gin, Italian and French vermouths, bitters and maraschino. Both superb, and warming on what was a chilly day. We then. moved onto a Markus Molitor Mosel Alte Reben Riesling, a carafe so not to be too silly.

Fried duck egg, black pudding with crispy bacon and HP jus. Perfectly fried duck egg with savoury layers from the bacon, black pudding and HP jus.

Caesar salad with Atlantic prawns and avocado. Crisp vegetables, plump and moist prawns. A salad I could almost eat everyday, almost 😉

Cauliflower risotto with blue cheese and walnuts. Creamy and substantial, just what was needed.

Cornfed chicken breast with mushroom crust and braised lentils. Succulent chicken atop tender lentils. Another one ideal for the chilly weather.

Chocolate tart with creme fraiche and frosted cocoa nibs. This is certainly one for you if you are a huge chocolate fan. Mark was suitably happy here with the different textures of chocolate.

Cheesecake coupe with clementines and ginger crunch. After the comfort food feel with the mains, this was a refreshing palate cleanser. Creamy cheesecake with festive flavours.

Cheese Barge, London


The Ivy
1-5 West Street


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I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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