There are few restaurants left in Los Angeles that take me back to the glamor and elegance I knew as my grandmother’s first grand daughter. Slowly over the years they have disappeared. When I have a nostalgic craving for old Hollywood glamor, elegance and good food, I head to Polo Lounge, Bel Air Hotel or the Ivy. These are all places where Old Hollywood nostalgia and new Hollywood fuse together.
Last night I had dinner at the Ivy by the Shore. I’ve been there a few times since I moved out to Malibu. It’s a good midway point to meet people who are coming from town. When I lived in town (Beverly Hills) I would go the the Ivy often, but it is so far now that I’ve hardly been– maybe once. I love the food and the atmosphere and the people watching and I miss it, along with a few other of my favorite haunts like Il Pastaio, Mozza, Mr. Chow’s and so many others… Out in Malibu dining experiences are limited. (Lucky for Nobu, Bui, Tra di Noi and Savory! And, of course Sunset and Malibu Inn, where I perform!)
Our server at Ivy by the Shore last night was a honey haired version of Winona Ryder. She was very sweet with immaculate manners rarely seen today. I was schooled in manners by my watching my grandparents and by my east-coast step-mother. Over the years I have grown quite lax when it comes to table manners because not many people seem to know etiquette (in California anyway) these days. I would turn over the fork when I was finished eating, but the waiters no longer got the cues.
I sat down in the candlelit room filled with wondrous things to look at and a Gimlet was brought to me without even ordering it, the server must have read my mind because I always order a gimlet at the Ivy (unless I’m with someone who doesn’t drink and even sometimes then!) I sat sipping it, snapping of some fresh mint and eating it, looking around, taking in my surroundings… It had been an incredibly difficult and dramatic week fraught with a near-death experience and several crazy people rearing their ugly heads in my life and yet moments of sheer glorious ecstasy that had me realizing life can turn on a dime at any moment. My heart was feeling the pressure of the trauma and stress and Friday was the worst of it– three crazies in one day! I felt I was going to have a heart attack. I almost canceled my date, but, I didn’t, and as I sat there relaxing at the Ivy by the Shore, I took a deep breath and melted back to a time where my elegant, incredible grandmother would hold my hand and take me beautiful places. I said to my date, “Life should always be like this.”
I asked our server what the theme was behind the decor of Ivy at the Shore. I know the theme at the Ivy is the owners version of French Country, but I wasn’t sure about Ivy by the Shore– it seemed to me it was sort of vintage tropical/Cape Cod meets the Ivy in town… She explained that it was inspired by the owners’ trips to Capri. The owners, Richard Irving and Lynn Von Kersting, happened to be there that night. Our server explained to me what nice, humble, hardworking people they were, even with all of their success. This was so wonderful to hear from a member of their staff. The owners were kind enough to give me an amazing book “Amore E Gioia Sotto Il Sole” and a set of postcards called “Cartoline di Vacanza.”
Having not made out too well in my divorce (I still do consider myself and my children VERY LUCKY and BLESSED, make no mistake about that) my children and I have gone from living between two large, multimillion dollar estates on Mulholland Drive and Lanikai Beach, to living in a “regular” house in Malibu and will now be moving to a condo in Malibu (It was that or the trailer park– and though Paradise Cove is probably the best trailer park in the world– I opted for a condo on Point Dume.) This move down is not something I am happy about (I thought women were supposed to make out in divorce! And that children’s lifestyles were supposed to be maintained! Ha! What a myth!)
I had been contemplating for the last couple of weeks about how to make this change positive and how to decorate the place to make it a wonderful paradise, a little Shangri La. As I flipped through the pages in the book the owners gave me, it struck me that this is how I would decorate our new home, just like the pages of this wonderful gift of a book– with my little touches, of course. The colors, the vibrancy, the sea shells, the boats, the tropical prints, the animal prints, the stripes… it was all very intoxicating (it wasn’t just the gimlet!) Something about the decor of the Ivy brings me back to a place in my childhood, taking exotic trips with my grandmother- the bold, vibrant colors, the wild, daring mixture of patterns and treasures that look like they were found on trips to Europe and the tropics– and yet there it is class where it could easily turn tacky– I always say it is easy to appear classy in beige, but can you pull it off wearing red! The atmosphere like an elegant, sophisticated, eccentric old movie star. It’s like my grandmother in her Hawaiian mu-mu and her velvet turban, big sunglasses and her giant ring walking around with more grace and style in her pinky finger than most people have in their whole body.
And the book has recipes, too! I might even try a grilled vegetable salad! Thank you so much! Kiss, Kiss! Caio!