Chef: Richard Irving is a self-taught chef whose cooking is inspired by his travels. From France and Italy back to California you will find on hand-painted plates a bit of everything. His wife is an actress and decorator responsible for Ivy’s cosy designs. Their original restaurant is located in Beverly Hills, yet I prefer their near-the-ocean setting in santa Monica for its getaway atmosphere.
One must love this place just for its ambiance. The restaurant’s interior transports you to an exotic island and the fresh and rustic food takes you on a trip across the oceans of the world. From Caribbean to Mediterranean, your plate will be taken on a life cruise.
Food: The seafood is Ivy’s stronghold. Their crab claws, Maine lobster, prawns, oysters and calamari in any form from a salad to an appetizer and main course in a pasta dish or on a pizza are usually very good. You can eat light or indulge in a fried portion of calamari or a crab cake. They have some meat dishes, but we tend to eat their seafood for the kitchen has mastered it so well.
The crab cakes with homemade tartar sauce are all about crab and not like in many disappointing places a potato mash with pieces of crab moulded into a bun. They a perfect snack to start or if you desire a unique pizza, then an oven-baked lobster pizza will not disappoint. With a thin crust and generous toping this a pizza a la Italy.
I usually go there for lunch so ordering one of the Ivy’s generous salads became a routine I hardly resist to change. Their salads are so different and big that I always leave sated and bemused how many ingredients they manage to out into one dish while keeping it tasty and not overwhelming. I would call most of their salads ‘wholesome’. Avocados, lettuce, chicken, herbs grilled beets, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese and many others just in one dish. You will be nourished. Freshly baked bread with butter will satisfy your naughty self.
Drinks: The cocktails are the highlight of the drinks-list. They all look so fresh and perfectly designed that sipping on a banana daiquiri in middle of the day cannot make one feel guilty of relishing such a pleasure. The only drawback is, that it can turn into a wild night out as you will not be able to stop, how great the stuff is. The wine list is world-travelled as well. There is a bit from every corner of our tiny planet. With roses being a big hit now. The freshly squeezed juices are decorated as if you were on a cool island where pineapples and melons grow everywhere around you.
Atmosphere: The colors are everywhere and the naval decoration adds to a chilled yet vibrant setting. The food and hot drinks are served in a hand-made and hand-painted pottery available for sale at the restaurant. The crowd ranges from business lunchers to artsy friends so the place is far from monotonous.
Contact & opening hours: +1 (310) 393-3113; 8am-11pm, Monday – Saturday; 8am-10pm on Sunday
Cuisine: Modern Californian with international inspiration
Location: 1535 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 904 01, US
Price: medium high, yet the salads are a great value as they are huge and filling.