Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Article excerpt

The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a restaurant inside an Edwardian house disguised as a Tudor house on the King's Road; it was formerly the fetid Henry J. Bean's American Bar and Grill, which was a sort of magnet and sex market, with cheeseburgers, for Chelsea teenagers. It sits in a row of babywear shops and artisan bakers -- why Chelsea needs bakers I know not, because no one here is fat enough to eat bread. Perhaps it bespeaks a psychic insecurity that even the rich of SW3 feel -- for the bread is the life?

It is the third instalment of Richard Caring's growing Ivy franchise, because Caring -- catering's Dr No -- cannot let a good brand rest in peace; he loves money, and napkins, too much for that. I wonder if he dreams idly of turning the whole planet into a fashionable restaurant in soothing shades of green with witty and interesting furniture? Does that make ivy a kind of metaphorical civilisation-munching weed that will douse everything in bright all-day menus, clean aprons and smiles? And will the original Ivy's customers abandon it now it is democratised, with new venues in both Covent Garden and Chelsea? (I exaggerate as to the democratic possibilities inherent in dining in a Richard Caring restaurant; of course I do. He is the man who owns Scott's, where every customer looks like a Bentley Continental.) The answer is -- who cares?

It is two weeks old, large and fantastically beautiful; Caring has -- although I suspect it is not his primary motivation -- finally built a restaurant I admire. (I never liked 34. It felt like the end of the Weimar Republic, but more depressing, and with smaller tables.) It is sage green with dull orange banquettes, botanical prints and brass light-fittings. The women are Chelsea women; that is, their faces are emphatic with make-up but their eyes are dead; without make-up they would have no expression at all, and would look like pieces of paper that have learnt to speak. …

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