FooDiva clings onto The Ivy Dubai; some early impressions

Dubai; Incase you’re not in the know, The Ivy Dubai officially opens its oak-panelled doors this coming Thursday, June 9th. FooDiva had a sneak peek yesterday over a pre-opening dinner, so as many of you are eagerly anticipating my thoughts, here are my very first impressions. This is not a FooDiva restaurant review, as clearly in line with my editorial policy, I will return as a paying guest for a formal, comprehensive review. The Ivy Dubai

Firstly the restaurant, or brasserie as the team prefer to call it is huge. Yes I realise The Ivy sits on the old Scarlett’s site, but given the last time I frequented that establishment was umpteen years ago, I was pleasantly shocked by the expanse of space. The bar and lounge area sits 40 guests, the main restaurant 90, and the ‘outdoor’ but really indoor terrace another 60. Plus a private dining room for 16 if that wasn’t enough. The architect behind this transformation, Martin Brudnizki, who also designed The Ivy London has used the signature oak panelling throughout, with the harlequin stained glass windows forming a key feature. And of course the British racing green leather banquettes. The commissioned art, Damien Hirst included was not yet installed – an element of surprise perhaps for opening night? Shame as I really wanted to share some photos with you. Anyhow, picture private gentleman’s club with an Art Deco feel – so different and refreshing for a city built on modernism. Smouldering and oh so sexy. Damn shame cigars aren’t allowed. You can also plonk yourself on bar stools to eat, a little like its sister Rivington Grill. And when you do, make sure to choose Twinkle, the Ivy’s signature champagne cocktail with vodka and elderflower juice – served in the original coupe shaped glass.

The Executive Chef at the helm is none other than Colin Clague of ex-Zuma fame, and yes some Japanese inspired dishes do call out to you, even though the menu has a strong European flair, British included. Like the restaurant, the menu is massive; starters include a large caviar and shellfish selection, eggs, pasta and rice dishes – with most available as larger main course options too. Mains consist primarily of fish, roasts and grills. And of course far too many desserts to choose from. Now I’ve reviewed so many dishes previously, do click here and here for a read.

The Ivy Dubai's foie gras

The Ivy Dubai's foie gras

One star starter contender last night was the foie gras – pan fried and seared served on a galette of apple and white raisin juice. The steak tartare also deserves a mention; yes it is minced beef served raw, but with the right amount of spice that helps ‘cook’ it a little. Perfect smothered on thick slices of white bloomer bread toast.

The Thai baked seabass with fragrant rice is hands down my favourite main to date. Not only did they not hang the art, but some dishes were apparently purposely omitted from the menu until opening night, and one such dish was their renowned shepherds pie – just the dish I’d been salivating for all day. Oh well, will definitely be back now.

The Ivy Dubai's kedgeree

The Ivy Dubai's kedgeree

And if you’re harking for more British Empire choices, the kedgeree, a rice-based Scottish concoction traditionally served for breakfast but nowadays a light supper dish will entice. The Ivy knocks it up with chunks of smoked salmon and haddock, topped with a poached egg. Unfortunately, the much-promised bangers & mash doesn’t feature. Am guessing they couldn’t import the right pork sausages. You can see the full a la carte menu here, even though a sprinkling of dishes differ.

As for desserts, our table of four pretty much ordered every option; the banana sticky toffee pudding and the lemon assiette trio were clear faves.

Expect to pay on average AED400 per head including wine from a very reasonably priced selection. It ain’t gonna break the bank, unlike some other globally imported establishments around town. Whilst the decor and food impresses, the challenge will be with the service. Will the team cope with a huge restaurant full of demanding, paying clientele? The bar has been set high, so will The Ivy Dubai meet those high expectations? There’s only one way to find out. FooDiva will return once it’s officially open and we’ve allowed some time for settling in. In the meantime, as I know FooDiva Friends already have bookings, please feel free to share your experiences here.

And if you fancy even more reading, here’s an earlier interview.

The Ivy Dubai at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Boulevard will open daily for lunch and dinner from June 9th. T; +971 4 3198767  E; theivy.reservations@jumeirah.com

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

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6 Responses to “FooDiva clings onto The Ivy Dubai; some early impressions”

  1. Sally - My Custard Pie June 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hmmm 400 dhs a head to eat shepherd’s pie – I think I’d pick something more complicated! It sounds very inviting though. Look forward to your next review.

  2. Fork It Over Dubai June 9, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I know its to early to ask since you went for a tasting rather than a full on resto experience, but can you give some comparison to the IVY in the UK in terms of food. Was the taste and quality the same? Can you compare them? Ive never been to the IVY in the UK and im going to the Dubai IVY on saturday just wanted your thoughts.

    • FooDiva June 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Am sad to say I’ve yet to dine at The Ivy London. But from others that have done both, I’ve been told the experience is very similar. The menu is not identical, but most of their signature dishes are also available here. Do let me know how Saturday goes.

  3. Alon June 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Sounds like you had fun.

    But frankly, to pay this money for kedgeree, shepherds pie…etc

    Are you a Cigar smoker by any chance? Please say yes!

  4. Mrs Dubai June 12, 2011 at 10:34 am

    My friend dined there on Friday. She’s a regular at The Ivy in London and said that the Dubai brasserie was missing the “buzz” of the London one.

  5. Ed Singleton June 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I ordered the foie gras and totally agree with you it was perfect, I think the booze seemed very fairly priced and no need to spend a fortune when peroni is 35 aed.

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.