The Ivy stands on the elegant corner site at the junction of Parliament Street and Dame Street, rejuvenating the space that used to be The Thomas Read, figurehead of the doomed pub group which was feasted on by fellow publicans following its collapse in 2008.
The status quo for new bar concepts in today’s Dublin is to find out what the building used to be used for (in more authentic times) and hang your bar’s hat on that. However, that’s what the Thomas Read had already been doing, named as it was after the cutler’s store that had been at that particular corner of the city for aeons. In looking to establish a new identity, the Ivy has, to its credit, avoided going down the most temptingly obvious route.
In the great Dublin vintner’s carve-up, The Ivy is a sister bar to House on Leeson Street, 37 Dawson Street and Xico of Baggot Street (amongst others) run by businessman Alan Clancy. Like each of those bars of those bars, The Ivy is not playing for cutting edge or kooky. In fact even more so than its siblings, this bar plays it safe and classy. Its establishment credentials are perhaps burnished by the aforementioned affiliation of the Thomas Read with its attendant ye olde worlde vibe, but between the Wedgewood colour scheme, striped awnings, marble counters, arrays of fresh flowers and a buttload of framed etchings and photographs on the wall, The Ivy manages to convey a sense of seniority even for a newbie; it reminded me of the venerable Old Stand of Exchequer Street. The other notable thing about The Ivy is that it’s overwhelmingly* populated by the fairer sex, probably by a ratio of five to one. On my brief visit, it felt like there were possibly two engagement parties going on here.
At the bar there’s selection of craft beers, neither extensive nor minimal, but with enough selection to keep brewheads happy. Their signature cocktail is the Negroni, with a heapful of variations on the menu. I plump for a Boulevardier (€9) made with Bulleit bourbon which is really tastily balanced between sweet and bitter.
The Ivy styles itself as “luxurious continental style bar”, suited to “watching the world go by whilst regaling old times”. While its oldness is contrived, it’s also strangely convincing. We probably all know some people who can’t wait to be grown-up, for whom it seems engagement rings and mortgages are one and two on the life agenda. This bar, born old, seems like a good fit for them.
*I mean that figuratively of course, I was not literally overwhelmed by women.
1-4 Parliament Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 8
Words: Ian Lamont
Photos: Killian Broderick