x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The Ivy comes to Dubai

The branch of the famous celebrity-frequented restaurant, which is scheduled to open next month, is only the second Ivy in the world.

LONDON - APRIL 04:  The venue exterior of The Ivy, West Street is seen on April 4, 2007 in London, England.  (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images)
LONDON - APRIL 04: The venue exterior of The Ivy, West Street is seen on April 4, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Claire Greenway/Getty Images)

DUBAI // One is located in an art deco building with a clock tower and attic rooms in the heart of London's theatreland.

The other is in a smart shopping mall beneath two silver towers that soar hundreds of metres into the sky.

The Ivy Dubai, the only offshoot of London's most famous celebrity restaurant, is preparing for its opening the first week in June in the Boulevard Mall at the Emirates Towers.

The venture is being developed in partnership with the restaurant division of the Dubai-based Jumeirah hospitality group.

The team is aiming to replicate the unique ambience and magic of the original, which dates back to 1917.

According to Sunil Kumar, who was recruited to serve as the restaurant's general manager, the key will be the way the dining areas have been designed. That includes signature oak panelling and harlequin stained glass leaded windows, a series of leather banquettes in British racing green in the dining room and sofas upholstered in a sage green mohair velvet in the bar.

"A great deal of care and attention has been taken to emulate The Ivy in Covent Garden," said Mr Kumar. "I think that customers will be pleasantly surprised by the similarities between both restaurants."

The original Ivy, which has no connection with the identically named celebrity restaurant in Los Angeles, started playing host to A-listers decades before the term was invented. Early diners included Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich and Noël Coward, while in the 1960s it attracted football greats such as George Best and Denis Law.

Successive generations of celebrities have eaten there, including Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, George Clooney, George Michael, Sir Elton John, Lily Allen, David and Victoria Beckham, Ricky Gervais and Sylvester Stallone.

Tom Cruise liked The Ivy so much he took both his wives there - Nicole Kidman in 1998 and Katie Holmes in 2009. And in 1999 the restaurant received the ultimate royal seal of approval when the Queen and Prince Philip dined there.

Diners in Dubai will pay on average Dh400 a head for a three-course meal with wine. The menu will feature a number of signature dishes, such as aromatic duck salad with watermelon and chilli cashews, alongside new additions including chargrilled baby chicken with rocket and a lemon mustard dressing.

While The Ivy is famous for its celebrities, it is also notorious for long waiting lists that in recent years have shortened from months to a more manageable few weeks. Although the Dubai restaurant has more space than The Ivy London - 90 seats in the restaurant, 60 on the outdoor terrace and 40 at the bar - its management are seeking the same exclusive feel, saying only that they have been accepting reservations since January.

"We hope to have a long waiting list as I see it as a sign of restaurants doing well," he said.

The restaurant will open with a party attended by top brass from The Ivy's parent company, Caprice Holdings, with "celebrity attendance" promised but not yet to be confirmed.

But there is one Ivy tradition that probably will not be replicated in the Dubai location: the paparazzi who gather outside the London restaurant waiting to snap the latest pop sensation or Hollywood starlet.

"The photographers outside The Ivy in London are an occupational hazard and in my view Dubai will be all the better for not having them," said Mr Kumar.



What you will pay for a typical three-course meal at The Ivy Dubai

• Chilled plum tomato soup
with mozzarella and basil

• Chargrilled baby chicken
with rocket and a lemon mustard dressing

• Scandinavian iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce

Cost per person, including beverages: Dh400