Interview Q: Do you have a portfolio? A: Yes. – Good for you. GTFOut. We hire people to work, not audition. And because they obviously hire for ability, The Ivy is without question the best restaurant in LA.
The first thing a patron notices while marching to the table is the relative dearth of pretty people wearing aprons. This is four standard deviations distant from every other LA restaurant and doesn’t immediately sink-in. Why would a star-studded cliché of a spot not follow protocol? And after a dozen or so meals, I feel that the Ivy, unlike every other service sister, understands that its business is to get you in, fed, and the hell out in time to seat the next party. This does not happen when the waiters are too busy learning lines to remember orders.
Today, for the first time, things did not go flawlessly. They usually do. 1 for 12. When my Cajun Prime Rib arrived, it was cooked so thoroughly that well-done would be an understatement. I wish I took a picture. How was it ordered? Rare, of course. So here we know for certain that the waiter, chef, and bus person all looked at a “prime rib” half an inch thick and thought nothing of it. Alarms should have been sounding. But, an error is not serious so long as it’s corrected. And correct they did fast and without argument. Prime Rib round two was 2.5 inches thick and rare as I’ve ever seen. How about you? Some would argue that they overcompensated by serving black-and-blue instead of rare (there is a difference) but I won’t. The Cajun crust more than made up the heat that the center lacked. I can’t imagine eating it another way.
Also on the menu was 1 Grilled Shrimp Salad, 1 Artichoke appetizer, and 5 Ivy Margaritas at the cool price of $16.75 EACH. I thought the menu said 13.75 and can’t find an on-line version anywhere. I would have loved to scream bloody murder at these bastards and had I found proof of the margarita’s price differential I would have. But you know what? They make simply the best margarita I have ever sucked up with hunger for another. I looked up their recipe some years ago trying to emulate them and of course, got a lot of hearsay. The combo tasting most like theirs was: 1 part tequila, 2 parts Cointreau, 2 parts fresh lime juice. The one today seemed to have the tequila/Cointreau ratio reversed since it wasn’t as sweet as I remember. Either that or the limes are out of season. Either way, 3 are enough to knock me on my overfed buttocks. Each has 3 shots of 80-proof liquor. Cointreau is sweet but it sure can kick.
Finally, a note about the pricing. If you are on a budget, cross the street to News Café. Or better yet, get bent. The Ivy is a place that understands its market as well as its reality. They are in the business of turning tables and @ 16.75$/drink you’re a lot less likely to sit there sipping past your welcome. They deliver food that is consistently excellent with service that is second to nothing in LA. They also seat you on time which would be impossible had they not found their equilibrium price and gotten demand to equal supply. My sample size is north of 10 and never have I waited more than a few minutes past time reserved. Yes, you need to make a reservation. Yes, even at these price points. So if you want to be a hater, print out all the tales of woe you read in other reviews and eat them instead. Keep the Ivy’s tables free of human refuse so I can eat in peace.