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Book review: The Ivy Now by Fernando Peire

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Book review: The Ivy Now by Fernando Peire

The Ivy Now by Fernando Peire (Quadrille, £30)

The renaissance of the Ivy, the restaurant in the West End of London that has long been a celebrity magnet, began in 1990 when restaurateurs Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King reopened the establishment to great acclaim. It has, however, been around for considerably longer, having initially been launched as a humble café by a young Italian, Abel Giandolini, in 1917.

Now, to celebrate its centenary, Fernando Peire, who joined the Ivy in 1990 as senior maître d’ and is now director of the restaurant, has written what is part history, part recipe book. Packed with anecdotes and memories from many of the great and good who have passed through its doors over the years, The Ivy Now also provides a fascinating glimpse into the practicalities of running what is one of the capital’s most enduring and successful eateries – today owned by Richard Caring’s Caprice Holdings.

The recipes – of which there are, appropriately, 100 – highlight the fact that the Ivy has never set out to offer an innovative menu. Instead, the food appeals to what customers want to eat, rather than what chefs want to cook.

All the Ivy’s classic dishes are here, including the shellfish cocktail, shepherd’s pie (featured opposite and one of the late Sir Roger Moore’s favourite dishes), bang bang chicken and knickerbocker glory.

Recent years has seen more creativity from executive head chef Gary Lee, hence the inclusion of sesame scallops with sesame pork, XO dressing and shiso; roasted monkfish with coppa, white polenta and gremolata; spiced lamb with smoked aubergine and quinoa tabbouleh; and strawberry field jelly with Champagne granité.

And then there are the cocktails, of which the classics – such as the Old Fashioned and espresso martini – are presented by bar manager Darren Ball.

For anyone who loves a bit of restaurant history, then this book, which charts how the Ivy grew into a brand that today comprises eight Ivy Grills & Brasseries and four Ivy Cafes, is a must, and a highly entertaining read.
By Janet Harmer

If you like this, you may enjoy these
The Ivy: The Restaurant and its Recipes by AA Gill
Breakfast at the Wolseley by AA Gill
Chiltern Firehouse by André Balazs and Nuno Mendes

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