Welcome to The Ivy Winchester: exclusive interview

As The Ivy Winchester Brasserie prepares to welcome guests for the first time, this exclusive interview with Reza Najafi, general manager tells us what to expect from the landmark launch, what makes this location so unique and his favourite menu choices.

Hear from Reza Najafi, general manager of The Ivy Winchester Brasserie

On the Thursday 24 May, The Ivy Winchester Brasserie opens its doors, promising to offer a new, exciting and exclusive dining experience to the city. We were lucky enough to speak to Reza Najafi and his passion for the project is impressive and heartfelt. Here’s the interview:

Winchester Bloggers: What is your background and why are you excited about this launch?
Reza Najafi: I have over 25 years’ experience working within the hospitality industry and have spent most of this time in fine dining restaurants in both London and Edinburgh – most recently as general manager at The Café Royal, Scotland’s oldest oyster and seafood restaurant. I’m very excited to be part of the opening here in Winchester, having already had the opportunity to meet many members of the local community whilst exploring this beautiful city. There is an incredible buzz surrounding our opening and we can’t wait to welcome guests to the new brasserie from Thursday 24 May.

WBWhat can Winchester expect from the new Ivy Winchester Brasserie?
RN: Winchester can expect a beautiful all-day dining brasserie, complete with a great team, good service and all-encompassing menus - not to mention a great selection of cocktails, wines and Champagnes. The critically-acclaimed Martin Brudnizki Design Studio consulted on our interiors, with features including a striking onyx bar, pendant lighting, marble floor tiles, polished parquet panel flooring and leather banquettes. During the warmer months, guests will also be able to enjoy the brasserie’s terrace in addition to the main restaurant and bar.

(L-R) general manager, Reza Najafi, head chef, Luis Gonzales and The Ivy Winchester Brasserie team welcomed by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr David McLean

(L-R) general manager, Reza Najafi, head chef, Luis Gonzales and The Ivy Winchester Brasserie team welcomed by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr David McLean

WB: What are the important elements of The Ivy Collection brand that you are bringing to Winchester?
RN: It’s particularly important for us to create a stylish yet laid-back environment for guests to enjoy all day from dawn until dusk. We will also be holding back a number of tables each day for locals, visitors and passers-by wishing to drop in at their leisure, ensuring that tables do not always need to be pre-booked. Guests will be able to sample dishes that have already proven popular in other Ivy Collection brasseries, including the iconic Shepherd’s Pie and delicious Champagne afternoon tea. 

WB: For those people who already know The Ivy Collection, is there anything unique about the Winchester Brasserie?
RN: Our artwork has been curated by art consultant, Adam Ellis, with pieces depicting Winchester and its heritage located throughout both the restaurant and bar. Guests will also be able to enjoy a selection of bespoke cocktails, including the Martini of Kings and Priests – a classic gin Martini made with Winchester’s very own Twisted Nose Watercress Gin.

WB: What is your favourite dish or do you have a recommendation for a visit?
My favourite dish would have to be the Whole Baked Seabass, served with Baby Plum Tomato, Nocellara Olives, and Caper and Shallot Dressing.

The Ivy Winchester Brasserie is located at 103-104 High Street and will accommodate approximately 150 covers. To make a reservation, please call 01962 790 700 or visit www.theivywinchester.com