Gorgeous Yorkshire gets invited to the best parties and so it was that we headed to the opening of The Ivy Harrogate earlier this month, joining the great, the good and an impressive collection of Emmerdale (and former Coronation Street) cast members.
The new Ivy Harrogate is next door to Betty’s on Parliament Street, in the building that was Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Very classy it looks, too. The party was a fabulous event, with cocktails and Champagne galore, plus delicious taster canapes passing by every few minutes, which is exactly how I like it best (I hate having to work out the canape route from the kitchen – so distracting when you’re trying to people-watch).
The Ivy Harrogate is part of the Ivy Collection, a chain of brasseries and cafes branching out from the legendary original Ivy restaurant, near Cambridge Circus in the heart of theatre land in central London.
Opened in 1917, The Ivy has long been a favourite haunt of actors and artistes, regularly hosting, back in the day, the likes of Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, John Gielgud and Noel Coward.
Its celebrity-attracting powers have not dimmed. I’ve been twice to the original Ivy. The first time was ages ago, at a lunchtime press do with River Island, and Gillian Anderson was there, just casually dining, as you do. We went for my mum’s birthday a couple of years back, too. No celebs that I properly recognised, but a wonderful meal, wine and atmosphere – the best ever, we all agreed (a gang of girls) and not astronomically priced, although you do have to book well in advance.
The Ivy Collection is being rolled out across the country as a chain of high-end restaurants that aim to capture the ambiance and spirit of the original Ivy. There’s another opening in York right now, and one to come in Leeds Victoria Gate.
Certainly, The Ivy Harrogate makes great use of the iconic harlequin stained glass theme, a distinguishing décor feature of the original. It also captures the original’s blend of elegance and comfort. It’s subtly lit and atmospheric, with a huge plush and welcoming bar, pristine table settings, equally pristine staff, striking art, and a rather magical courtyard garden at the back (although I hope the heaters arrive soon; this is Harrogate).
The Ivy Harrogate is open all day from 8am, 9am Sundays, and serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and, of course, drinks at that lovely bar.
Starters on the a la carte menu include Apple and Harrogate Blue Salad, £6.50, with Harrogate Blue cheese, apple, cranberries, Belgian endive and caramelised hazelnuts; Duck Liver Parfait, £6.95, with caramelised hazelnuts, truffle, tamarind glaze with pear and ginger compote, toasted brioche; and Crispy Duck Salad, £7.95, with five spice dressing, toasted cashews, watermelon, beansprouts, coriander and ginger.
Fish and Chips with Whitby cod costs £14.95, The Ivy Hamburger is £14.25, and my favourite (I had it at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, don’t you know) is Aromatic duck curry, £14.75, with lemongrass, lime, chilli, roasted cashews and steamed jasmine rice.
There is also a set menu, two courses £16.50, three courses £21, available Monday – Friday, 11.30am – 5pm.
This new venue has created around 100 jobs. I met some lovely staff at the opening event, and enjoyed the Ivy experience again when I went for lunch a couple of days later, so I hope that The Ivy Harrogate does very well indeed. It’s chic, friendly and feels like a special experience, although not intimidatingly so, rather like the original Ivy. The manager, Rodney Prosper, is a Harrogate local, and he recognised me when I came in for lunch after the opening. I was impressed; I hadn’t misbehaved or drawn attention to myself at all, honest.
Of course, some independent restaurants in Harrogate must be alarmed by the opening of “chain”, celebrity and famous brand restaurants, understandably so, but hopefully there is room for all. I will still be going to the likes of William and Vic’s, Stuzzi and La Feria, for sure (and if everyone spent as much as I do of their far-from-huge income in Harrogate’s independent and “chain” restaurants, the whole sector would be thriving massively). Anyway, I am delighted to see such a chic and welcoming new restaurant come to town.
• To celebrate the opening, The Ivy Harrogate has partnered with Yorkshire jewellers Ogden Harrogate to create the bespoke Ivy Harlequin Necklace, which will be auctioned to raise money for Harrogate Candlelighters at the Candlelighters Après Ski Party at Ripley Castle, which will be held in the grounds of Ripley Castle on December 2.
With an insurance value of more than £7,000, in 18ct white gold with 56 diamonds weighing around one carat in total, the pendant necklace has been inspired by the stained-glass windows and featuring intricate detailing and made in the family-run jeweller’s workshop. If you are feeling flush, there will be a silent auction at the Candlelighters’ party, with all proceeds going towards the Candlelighters’ charity which supports children suffering with cancer and their families in Yorkshire.
To see more menus and book, go to: www.theivyharrogate.com