As the exclusive Ivy Café prepares to open in Wimbledon Village, T&L gets a sneak preview of the coolest cafe in town
The Ivy Café is opening its doors just in time for Wimbledon fortnight and tables are likely to be as sought after as a seat on Centre Court. Synonymous with the exclusive celebrity clientele of its West End flagship – the café offshoot will be a more relaxed affair with no power tables, according to general manager Alfonso Cadena.
‘We’ll be holding back a number of tables for walk-ins, enabling those living, working and shopping in the area to drop in at any time of day,’ explains Alfonso.
The 120-cover café is on the site of the former Barclay’s bank, and its interior has been transformed by top interior studio Martin Brudnizki Design. It features an antique pewter bar, marble flooring and leather banquettes. ’With regards to the art on the walls, we will have a wonderful, eclectic collection of prints depicting scenes from the local area,’ points out Alfonso.
The café is open seven days a week, and diners can expect dishes such as wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid; heritage tomato, watermelon and feta salad; roast salmon fillet with asparagus, watercress and a soft herb sauce; grilled chicken salad, and crab linguine.
The private dining room has a hint of art deco glamour and can seat up to 20 guests. ‘I feel that it’ll be equally suited to a family party as to a corporate jolly or serious business lunch, says Alfonso. ‘The Ivy Collection’s executive chef, Sean Burbidge, has devised breakfast, lunch, dinner and canapé menus to suit every occasion. The restaurant opens on 1 June and we’re taking bookings now.’
And for those who like a bit of al fresco dining there is a garden terrace: ‘We have a bijou, tranquil dining terrace at the back of the café with a retractable roof,’ explains Alfonso. ‘You won’t be able to book it, but people with reservations in the café will take priority.’
‘I’m sure it will be busy, busy, busy. We’ll be working hard to ensure that everyone enjoys the style and panache that The Ivy is famous for,’ adds Alfonso.
For cocktail lovers a summery concoction with a nod to the Championships is planned as well as Ivy Café favourites such as The London Spritz, The Ivy Café Royale and The Negroni Tasting Set.
The Ivy Café will be taking part in the annual Wimbledon Village Tennis Window Competition (sponsored by the All England Tennis Club). ‘Being the new kids on the block, we’re madly keen to impress the judges… watch this space!’ adds Alfonso. The Ivy Café opens on 1 June.
Executive Chef Sean Burbidge serves up some answers
Why do you think Wimbledon Village was chosen as a location?
Location, location, location! It’s a critical ingredient of our DNA. Wimbledon Village is an oasis. It’s buzzy, full of great shops and businesses, but manages to retain a vibrant neighbourhood feel, which is what The Ivy Café is all about.
What do you think The Ivy will bring to Wimbledon Village?
A friendly, relaxed and accessible dining destination for every occasion, opening from morning until well after dark. The all-day dining options will allow those living, working and shopping in the area to pop in when they feel like it and experience some of The Ivy classics.
You’re a sports fan – any players you’d like to cook for at Wimbledon this year?
It has to be Andy! I’d serve him the shepherd’s pie – you can’t go wrong with this British classic, a comfort dish par excellence.
Will there be any signature dishes?
We don’t single out dishes as ‘signature’, but people especially rave about the shepherd’s pie, the truffle arancini and the melting chocolate bombe. Particularly for the summer, the crispy duck salad and tuna carpaccio are favourites.
What flavours and ingredients do you most like working with?
Fresh, great quality seasonal ingredients. This time of year is fantastic – asparagus, peas and English strawberries all spring to mind.
The Ivy Café, Wimbledon Village, 75 High Street, Wimbledon Village 020 3096 9333