Bath’s new Ivy Brasserie has more objects crowded on its walls than the city’s Abbey church but this isn’t so much memorials to the dear departed as wrapping diners in the ‘company colours’ which define the imagery of the London-based ‘mother’ restaurant’s new nationally-dispensed brand.
It’s like walking into a floor-to-ceiling art exhibition hanging in 19th century France where framed images taking up every inch of the wall surface.
Although this is obviously the approved interior ‘feel’ of these new eating houses there is a nod to Bath with both Bath Abbey and the hot springs represented amongst the wall hangings.
Let’s just step back a moment and put all this in context. The Ivy Brasserie is housed in what used to be NatWest’s Milsom Street branch.
Itself contained in one of five grand houses that make up Somersetshire Buildings – built as a speculation by the City Architect Thomas Baldwin in 1781-3.
Milsom Street gets its name from Daniel Milsom a school master and member of the Corporation who leased this last strip of untouched land between the old town and the new architecture on the hill and got his son to jointly develop it with the local authority.
It became a favoured residential area until commerce moved in. It remains what you would call part of Bath’s ‘up town’ area.
The bank was housed in what would have been the bay-fronted living room of a lodging house which no doubt attracted a high-class and wealthy lodger – in town to take the waters.
While they wouldn’t recognise the place today – they would appreciate the most eloquent architectural feature of that space still remains.
The ground floor front room of No 39 – the centre house – was given one of the finest and most delicate plaster ceilings in Bath. Modelled on Josiah Wedgewood’s Jasper Ware – introduced by the English potter in 1775. A classic mixture of white and pale blue mouldings of rams heads, foliage and ribbons decorating a large circular panel.
I have to say The Ivy’s interior designers have done a good job of allowing the 18th century ceiling to ‘crown’ that front bay area in uninterrupted glory despite the more eclectic and colourful mixture you’ll find walking further into the restaurant.
It can be better appreciated by people who will be spending more time under it that any previous bank customer dashing in to cash a cheque at the NatWest counter.
The restaurant has spared no expense with a beautiful marble floor and a bar counter that uses light and suspended glass flutes to create a long ‘chandelier’ effect linking the front entrance with the more internal and intimate dining area.
The Ivy Brasserie opens on Wednesday this week – October 11th. It’s first floor dining facilities will be completed early next year – and there are plans for roof-top entertaining by Easter of next year.
Can’t tell you anything about the food or prices – because this was a stand-up – canapes and fizz-type gathering – but l can tell you they have spent weeks training the staff and that showed last night with a well-oiled and well-mannered welcome and continual replenishment of nibbles and drink.
No 39 begins a new role in its long and varied social history.
Over to you via https://theivybathbrasserie.com
PS. If you were wondering where NatWest have gone. They’ve just opened up in the old Burton Building in Stall Street – opposite M and S.