Caprice Holdings continues to expand its Ivy brand with a third casual café offering in the heart of St John's Wood. The 100-cover venue, on the former site of Megan's Café Grill & Bar (RIP), includes Parisian-style street-tables.
Harden's survey result
“Trading on The Ivy’s name, but nothing like the real thing”: outlets of Richard Caring’s sub-sub-brand are “squarely bistro in nature” and proving less successful than their brasserie namesakes in capturing diners’ affections. True, some do tout them as a “dependable if unexciting” choice, but – lacking the pizzazz which carries the experience at their grander cousins – the focus falls more on the “bland, by-numbers” food and service that’s “neither here nor there”. Top Tip – “Prefer breakfast to the expensive lunch and dinner options”.
“A dilution of the Ivy name” – the cheaper, more bistro-esque ‘Café’ sub-brand is “a woeful imitation of the original” that’s “all style and has nothing else to recommend it”. Even many of those recommending breakfast – its best feature – say the results are “very predictable”, and later in the day you get “standard pub grub-type food at fine dining prices” served by “brittle” and “amateur” staff. “Avoid at all costs!”
Bistro fare that’s “deeply average at best”, particularly at the newest St John’s Wood branch (on the site of Megan’s, RIP) of these still-young spin-offs from the legendary original – plus “snobbish and unhelpful service” – do not bode well for Richard Caring’s rapid roll-out of (ie shameless cashing-in on) this celebrated brand, of which these The ‘Ivy Cafés’ are the sub-sub-brand (compared with the slightly more upmarket sub-brand ‘The Ivy Grills & Brasseries’). The West End outlets are better, and fans do say their atmosphere generally “lifts them out of the ordinary”, but “with this caché surely they can afford better chefs?”
“Hooray, Wimbledon now has an Ivy! (in place of an old branch of Barclays)” – and Marylebone too, has a “busy and bustling” branch (on the site that was Union Café, RIP) of this spin-off chain. But whereas many fans do find them “fun” and “attractive”, they are also crowded and “quite expensive”, with comfort food that’s arguably “not much better than at Côte” (Richard Caring’s other successfully rolled out money-spinner of recent years).
The Ivy Café Restaurant Diner Reviews
"It does it so well as do all the ivy cafes we have visited "
"Best ambience in St Johns Wood, with very helpful and pleasant service. Food good, but not better than any other Ivy Café. "
Last orders: 11 pm