Ivy Chelsea Garden

What’s the point of having a fabulous and fabulously successful restaurant if you can’t farm out 28 B-versions, or maybe I should say C-versions, including one on London Street in Norwich between Boots and the Gap?

There was a point last year when I just knew Michael Kors was a short. Logically, there had to be a disconnect between spending £3,949 on a black floral dress embroidered with gilded sequins; and spending £315 to have the same handbag as someone who spends £315 on a handbag. No judgement intended in either direction, except that it’s clearly not going to be the same woman doing the spending. I thought this identity crisis would lose them their high end customer and then everyone else would realise that they hadn’t bought themselves a slice of all-American luxury, but a brash Prada knock off with the words “Michael” and “Kors” screaming all over it. By then there were more Michael Kors handbags slung over shoulders in Oxford Street than daily crises in the NHS, and ubiquity has never been fashionable. Luckily for me, penury is a blessing: I didn’t/couldn’t act on my idea and Michael Kors is up 24% since this time last year. I’m sure Richard Caring is following the same business plan with the Ivy. What’s the point of having a fabulous and fabulously successful restaurant if you can’t farm out 28 B-versions, or maybe I should say C-versions, including one on London Street in Norwich between Boots and the Gap? Yes I’m sure it will be a success, but only until people realise that the words “The Ivy” are actually more synonymous with “Pizza Express” than “celebrity” or “exclusivity” or even “good food”, although, as with Michael Kors, it’s unclear how long it takes.

Luckily for the Ivy Chelsea Garden, the Ivy Norwich Brasserie hasn’t opened yet. My, what clunky names they are. Anyway, the restaurant is beautiful: floridly, boldly botanical and teeming with well dressed life, a definite improvement on Henry J Beans. It’s perhaps not the place for anyone who is highly sensitive/Aspergers/grumpy because it’s big and loud and there is a lot going on. I started with the roasted foie gras, which is not nearly as smooth and buttery as it could be, but the brioche and apple sauce were delightful, so at least 95 pence of the £15.95 it costs is money well spent. The shepherds pie came not in the form of a pie, but as two ladles of rather nice lamb ragout and one ladle of mashed potato topped with cheese, where all ladles are child-size because this might be a pie, but it’s a pie in Chelsea where most of the customers are hard-bodied women of a completely indeterminate age to whom eating is an unfortunate biological imperative and not felicity itself. They probably don’t mind the food, but what they do mind is Norwich. I give it a year from the date the Ivy Norwich opens its doors, maybe two, although, as discussed, I’m probably wrong.

Average for three courses for two people £84 (not including wine).

The Ivy Chelsea Garden, 195 -197 King’s Road, London SW3 5EQ

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