Already lauded for its patio and fun bar scene, Ivy Tavern on Lemmon Avenue is stepping up its food program and has named Andrew Kelley as executive chef. He has worked at a variety of restaurants, including Torchy's Tacos; he also worked in Chicago at the W and Ritz-Carlton hotels.
His menu for the Ivy includes burgers, both regular and bison, and build-your-own pizzas with toppings such as brisket or chicken teriyaki. Classic bar-food items get elevated by from-scratch ingredients, such as hummus with pita bread and vegetables, nachos, and an expanded menu of French fries.
"We wanted it to be more than a burger joint," says owner Lisa Georgalis. "We're not a major restaurant, but we wanted to make sure we had good bar food."
Owners Lisa and Tom Georgalis felt it was time to take their food program to another level.
"Originally, we envisioned having a few items, some souvlaki, chicken fingers, a salad or two," Lisa says. "When we owned Inwood Tavern, we had no food. So this was an all-new venture. Nearly everything we do is made in-house, from the ranch dressing and up, but we wanted a great menu and a chef to execute it."
Their plan to beef up the menu includes capitalizing on the good reputation they have for French fries.
"We used to have plain fries and chili fries," she says. "Now we have eight kinds, including Parmesan truffle fries, sweet potato fries, Greek fries with feta cheese and buffalo fries with blue cheese dressing."
Other items include fried zucchini, cut into fun-to-eat rounds; onion rings stuffed with brisket; and a black bean spicy veggie burger.
"We were getting such great reviews on our food that we wanted it to be more than a burger joint," she says. "We're not a major restaurant, but we wanted to make sure we had good bar food."
That said, they also wanted to maintain their casual spirit.
"Our top-seller is our grilled cheese sandwich with brisket," she says. "You can come here in shorts and flip-flops, or you can come after an event wearing a tuxedo. That's who we are."