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Bentley Magazine - Flourishing Ivy

With the guiding genius of Fernando Peire back in charge, theatreland’s famed Ivy Restaurant and its young sibling the Ivy Club have recaptured their mojo, reports Nick Foulkes.

“As I call to mind a typical Ivy lunchtime scene, what a fine sight I have before me. From my table (and I am not making this up, although memory is, of course, sequential and cumulative) I can see David Puttnam importantly reading a script. John Mortimer at his favourite corner table, is beckoning to Stephen Daldry, on his favourite booth banquette. Next to me is Joanna Mackie who, as publishing director of Faber & Faber, must claim some responsibility for Chris Smith’s atrocious book. She is lunching with Caroline Michel, wife of Faber’s bien pensant friend-of-Rushdie chairman, Matthew Evans. Melvyn, tie loosened, looking hot, fusses in.”

In his 1998 classic, Labour Camp, Stephen Bayley provides a glorious snapshot of The Ivy in action. This was the high summer of cool Britannia; London was buzzing, humming and fizzing in a way that it had not done since the 1960s. New Labour was surfing a tide of optimism following its election; the discredited Conservatives were at the beginning of a generation in the wilderness; the War on Terror, the invasion of Iraq and the collapse of the world economy were still in the future. It was a bright shiny time and The Ivy was the works canteen of those who operated the levers of power and pulled the strings of influence in the new world order. As Bayley said: “I don't know where the old establishment lunches, but it is fascinating to watch the mechanical engineering of the New Establishment in grisly action.”

And the word engineering is apposite in another sense as well. The Ivy did not just happen to be the hot place of cool Britannia.

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