We're coming to Hollywood for the first time in June. My sister really wants to eat at the Ivy. Is it worth it? How much will it cost? I heard the wait staff described as "cold"...is that usually the case? We're not famous, nor rich. :)
If you search the boards you will discover that very few people consider it to be worth it. It is expensive, the food is mediocre, the staff is waiting for their big break, and clientele will likely be famous but unrecognizable to you (unless you have extensive knowledge of actors/power structure in LA).
Note: The Ivy is not in Hollywood per se, it is located on Robertson in a trendy shopping area that is adjacent to Beverly Hills.
Not worth it! trust me... im a native and have been going to the Ivy since it opened (even as a little kid). It has gone downhill over the years - food is not what it was and has been the case for a good 5 years now. You want to see celebrities and have great food? I can give you several options:
Mortons ( on Melrose in west hollywood)
Cut (in Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills)
Polo Lounge (in Beverly Hills Hotel)
Koi (sushi restaurant on La Cienega in west hollywood)
Area (nightclub and restaurant on La Cienega in west hollywood)
If you need anymore - let me know
Yes, it is worth it, but it is also very expensive. The menu does not differ much between lunch and dinner, and I don't think the prices are much different either. I prefer to go for lunch because it's just easier, and I think it is nicer during the day.
I take out of town guests here for 1) the great food and huge portions, and 2) so they can say they've eaten at The Ivy. I eat there pretty regularly myself for the first reason - the great food. The service has always been impeccable, and the staff is generally NOT waiting for their big break - all of the servers I have had have been very professional, many of them older in age, and the busboys are extremely hard-working and serious about their job.
For appetizers, I'm told the crab legs are amazing (I don't eat fish), and I love their corn chowder, it's very fresh tasting and light. And the bread basket is actually a small loaf of soft and warm whole wheat bread split into 4 - it's so great. If you finish it and ask for more, they will give you more, but you typically have to ask. But I'd advise against it anyway, because your entree will be huge.
The most popular menu item is probably the grilled vegetable salad. It's about $25, but it is enormous - you could easily eat half at the restaurant and take the other half to go for another meal. Other entrees are priced the same or higher, all served in huge portions. Other favorite entrees of mine are the hamburger (probably 8 inches in diameter and really good, I think it's about $25 also), and the chicken enchiladas with rice and beans that are not on the menu but are pretty much always one of their specials. One friend of mine ordered a huge - seriously HUGE - plate of fish and chips which he loved but came nowhere near finishing. Everything I have had there has been excellent and I always have a hard time deciding what to order. It is expensive, but I think you get far more bang for your buck at The Ivy than at other high-end places that have minuscule portions.
If the reason your sister wants to eat at The Ivy is for celebrities, your best shot is to go for a weekday lunch, when the stars power-lunch. I've never seen celebrities there on the weekends with anywhere near as much frequency. That said, people who go to The Ivy for the sole purpose of craning their neck all over the place and pointing and gawking at celebrities and who just order tap water and one entree to split - I can imagine they don't get great service and then complain about it (which they're kind of right to complain about, but seriously). Others who do order very full meals and get bad service - I don't know what to say except maybe the staff was overly busy or having an off night - but this has never been something I have encountered personally.
If you have the budget, then go - but - and it will be a high out-of-pocket cost, albeit with leftovers - definitely go. My mother is visiting me from the east coast in a few weeks, and I've already made our lunch reservations.
My 2 cents on other recommendations here - Area and Koi IMHO are overhyped and will probably close or turn into something else within 3 years. Area is great for drinking and clubbing though - if you can get in. At Morton's I had a completely boring un-memorable meal and have not been back. The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel is lovely - I had the best breakfast ever there - it is very expensive like The Ivy, but I definitely recommend the breakfast, which is just slightly more affordable. The Grill on the Alley is fantastic - the best service in LA hands down and wonderful food (along the same lines I'd recommend Mastro's for the best steak ever). Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were at the booth next to me at Spago one night, and a lot of people rave about the food, the portions are really tiny, it's a good foodie place if you have the money to order a lot of different dishes or a tasting menu. It's not really my cup of tea except for lunch when the menu items are less fancy - yummy garlic chicken pizza!
I guess we have gone a half dozen times over the years, and I was always satisfied with the portion sizes of both the appetizers and the mains, (the last time I had the weinersnitzel and it was excellent in both taste and size). I will say we haven't gone in the past year so maybe things have changed. And this from a guy who "hates" tiny portion places with a vengance. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice - it ain't gonna happen twice with sparrow sized portions. ;-D
I think you have to go no matter what people think about the food.
It's almost like Disneyland, I have to take out of towners there so they can say they've been there.