Known as the post-theatre haunt, and famous as much for its celebrity clientele as for its cooking, The Ivy is celebrating its centenary with a new set menu. Showcasing dishes from the restaurant’s past, the menu is priced at an excellent £19.17 for two courses and is available from 2.30pm–6pm, as well as after 10pm Monday through Thursday and all day on Sundays.
The Ivy’s new cocktail menu
There’s also a series of historically themed cocktail events taking place throughout the year, with a new menu developed by bar manager Darren Ball showcasing five distinct eras of The Ivy’s history through an exploration of cocktails from the last 100 years. From late March, you can enjoy the drama from the main restaurant or from front row seats at The Ivy’s central cocktail dining bar. The first event, ‘The Centennial Twist or Did the Bartender Really Do It?’ takes the form of a 1920s play, in keeping with the restaurant’s theatrical past.
A historical menu from The Ivy
There aren’t many restaurants in London that reach 100. And so, this seems an ideal time to raid the Ivy’s archive for a look at just how far we’ve come in terms of London’s restaurant scene. Here’s a menu from Thursday, September 30, 1965.
The first thing you’ll notice is, it’s all in French. This was a time when eating out meant being able to speak a foreign language, and being familiar with the distinct culinary terms. Indeed, in many fine dining restaurants right up until the 1980s, the menus were still written in French.
Being the 1960s, things kicked off with a choice of crevette rose cocktails, which is a prawn cocktail, or hors d’oeuvres – which could have been a selection of things, from pate to vegetables with a dressing. The final choice was minestrone soup.
Things got a little more racy in the main courses. The fish choice was Dover sole meunière. Meunière means ‘miller’s wife’ and sees the main ingredient – nearly always fish – dredged in a little flour, fried in a little butter and served with lemon and parsley. Meat lovers might have gone for the cotes d’agneau Reforme, lamb cutlets with a sauce invented by the great chef Alexis Soyer when he was cooking at the Reform club in the 1830s. The final choice was roast chicken with bread sauce. The sides on offer were Brussels sprouts and potato gratin.
Pudding choices consisted of fruit salad, a gateaux mille-feuille (‘1000’ leaves of puff pastry with cream between), or something called coupe Montreuil – which was almost certainly a flavour of ice cream either from or inspired by the town of Montreuil in the north of France. Finally friandise are small sweets, a little like petit fours, and coffee finished the meal off.
Turning to the wine choices, there were three, a hock (lightish white wine from Germany), with Graner Veltliner or a Chateau Bellevue 1957 with the main courses, depending on whether diners were having fish or the meats.