Our readers may be familiar with world renowned Ivy Restaurant in London, one of London’s most popular restaurants since 1917. It’s “the scene to see and be seen” and is frequented by the famous and international VIP’s. It’s been said that “a table at the Ivy is one of the most sought after pieces of furniture in London.” It could be said that the same holds true for The Ivy in Dubai as well as it also becoming the place to see and be seen in Dubai. The Ivy caters to Dubai’s power brokers and business clientele especially during lunch. At night you’ll find locals as well as Dubai’s large expat community having dinner among friends or a romantic encounter for two.
The Ivy, Dubai is situated in the heart of Dubai’s business district at The Boulevard in the luxurious Jumeirah Emirates Towers. One of the many shopping destinations in Dubai, The Boulevard caters to wealthy international expatriate and local clientele. As many expats fly home for the summer, the Boulevard is not bustling on the evening that we arrive. When we drive into the entrance, nattily dressed staff meet us at our car and provide prompt and convenient valet service.
As we approach The Ivy, we immediately take in the omnipresent English stained glass windows on the walls at the entrance and throughout the restaurant inside. As we enter the venue, one finds the posh decorated lounge and bar area with richly colored furniture against the deep brown wood and stained glass that is expected in a traditional British restaurant such as The Ivy.
We are here during the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan. Many of the locals use this period to spend time with family and the expats take the month to travel abroad so the restaurant is sparsely seated. An eclectic mix of patrons are there and we overhear a conversation of a South African regaling tales of life in Africa.
We are escorted to our cozy and comfortable table which gives us a great view of the restaurant and its patrons. As it’s hot in Dubai, the first thing that anyone thinks of is quenching one’s thirst. They have a wide selection of signature cocktails and fresh juices. Everything is uber-fresh here from the fish that flow in from London twice a week to the fruits, vegetables, meats, and other ingredients from France.
The menu was vast and varied. As a British restaurant, one would expect to find fish and chips and the Ivy’s world famous Shepherd’s Pie but in addition to these traditional dishes there’s so much more to choose from. The Ivy selected the best of British traditional fare and complemented it with dishes from around the world as well as right here in Dubai. These dishes are done with The Ivy touch while respecting the tastes and culture of the lands where they originate.
For the starter, we wisely opt for the Arabic Mezze a selection of Arabic appetizers including hummus, fattoush, lamb kofta, vine leaves and harissa. For the second starter we chose the most memorable dish of the night; the Dressed Dorset crab with celeriac remoulade. It was otherworldly with the exquisite crab texture and taste perfectly contrasting with slightly salty flavor of the celery topping. Some dishes taste so good that they haunt you long after the meal. This is one dish that I will I will have again the next time that I am in Dubai or London, if I can get a table.
Our staff could not have been friendlier and they were conversational but not intrusive. They are pleasant part of the dining experience at The Ivy. Each has an interesting and international background. Our host Silvia is from Slovakia and has been with the company for five years having worked in London, New York, and Dubai. Our server, Stanley loves his homeland of Kenya but shares that Dubai has become his new home and that he’s excited about building a life here with all of Dubai’s business. The restaurant’s General Manager is Mirzo Hafizov, from Uzbekistan who rose through the industry’s ranks starting with the Red Bar in Soho London. Instantly one picks up that Mirzo is seasoned, knowledgeable, and has the gravitas of the most experienced restaurateurs found in the world’s top dining establishments.
For the entrée, I chose the Arabic Spiced Lamb chops which were the perfect treat during Ramadan. They were well seasoned, perfectly prepared and the presentation was flawless. My companion chose the Thai Seabass with its memorable presentation, wrapped in banana leaves with the colorful red and green peppers and other spices. The Seabass was flavorful with a touch of peanut sauce and other spices that one would expect from a Thai inspired dish. It was spicy but not overly hot which was pleasant.
With so many good options, what to choose for dessert may have been our most difficult decision of the day. For me it was a tough choice between the blueberry pie and the white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake. My companion chose the crème brulee and the chocolate plate as the choice between the two was too difficult. I wisely chose the blueberry pie adorned with a scoop of ice cream. They make all of their ice creams and sorbet’s right there at the restaurant. All were expectantly amazing with noticeably fresh ingredients which satiated our sweet tooth.
After a pleasant chat and thank you was shared with each of our hosts for the evening, we left self admiring the dinner experience that we shared at The Ivy. For the British ambiance and the warm and hospitable staff, our expectations were exceeded. With the international cuisine with British influences and done The Ivy way, we could not have asked for a more pleasant evening. The Ivy is an establishment so easy to recommend to any and all fortunate enough to experience a power lunch or romantic dinner, or those simply wanting a drink at the bar. And with the Dubai setting , it’s all the more special.