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Ivy League

Release Date: 2009-12-30

A mere three weeks after opening, IVY Rooftop has become the place to be seen in Stone Oak. In a neighborhood with almost too many nightlife options, IVY has caught on like wildfire. Owner Terrin Fuhrmann has created an upscale playground that attracts a Gossip Girl-meets-Entourage-style crowd for drinking, dancing, and lounging on a cozy hotel-style rooftop. Saturday night, I gathered a small panel of nightlife critics for a proper analysis of all this alleged fabulosity in the Far North. Artsy socialites Kelly and Mallory O’Connor (stars of my imaginary reality show, The Terrell Hills), Jonathan Mergele (an artist visiting from New York), and Dallas-based DJ and producer Prince William (AKA Robert William Boston III) joined the Bar Tab for an evening at IVY.

We deliberately arrived early (around 9 p.m. — the bar opens at 8 p.m.) to avoid dealing with the long lines we’d been warned about. Up on the rooftop, there was no sign of Santa, but there was an artificial banyan tree that reminded the O’Connor sisters of the Tree of Life from The Lion King. Checking out the view, Mallory announced, “This is by far the coolest place in Stone Oak.”

IVY has the look of a fairly nondescript space (it’s located in a brand-new strip mall) that’s been given a lot of thought, love, and cash. Clean architectural lines in stone, wood, and glass showcase conversation-worthy light fixtures and comfy outdoor furniture fit for a South Beach boutique hotel.

The Prince was less than thrilled with the gin selection, “No Hendrick’s?” he said with bewilderment and mock panic. His Highness eventually settled for a Bombay Sapphire and tonic ($4), while the rest of us stuck to plain old vodka and soda with lime (also $4). The drinks were of the standard variety, no bells or whistles, but thankfully served in real glass. It’s pretty hard not to enjoy lounging on an outdoor sofa with some of your favorite people over cocktails. The propane heaters and fleecy blankets calmed the chill in the air and soon it felt like we were hanging out in a massive outdoor living room (the entire bar is around 5,000 square feet).

While I ran around taking pictures, my posse became a little frustrated with the music. All Kelly wanted for Christmas was to hear Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” but decided not to approach the DJ. “As soon as he plays a decent song, he starts messing with it,” the Prince quipped. We considered trying to dance, but by this time, IVY was at capacity (330 people were inside by 10:30 p.m.), and the dance floor was an obstacle course of guys showing off the designer jeans Santa brought them.

“Too many boys,” Kelly complained on our way out. “Did you see that line of people waiting to get in? They’re making the boys stand outside while they let all the girls in — there are way too many guys in there.” Mallory, however, wasn’t bothered by the fact that she was one of only a handful of girls in the bar, reminding her sister, “They definitely took notice when we were leaving.”

In the car, Jonathan mentioned that we seemed too “dangerously far away” from our usual orbit to even entertain the idea of another drink. “Yeah, let’s go back to our little bubble,” Kelly chirped.

Back in Kelly’s bubble, we drank all the Negra Modelos someone had left in the fridge, watched Sin City on DVD and lamented the passing of actress Brittany Murphy, and fell asleep on couches that were too short to lie down on.

The next day over lunch, we rehashed our visit to IVY. People were still grumbling about the music. “If they would play the kind of music Heat plays, I would be there all the time,” Kelly said. The Prince agreed: “What they need is a drag queen at the door and some better party music.” (Side note: Prince William, who is currently obsessed with a musical genre he calls “international ghetto-tech,” was asked to remove his logo-less New Era baseball cap before entering IVY. So if you’re rocking headgear that might be mistaken for thug-wear — leave it in the car.)

I think it’s inevitable we’ll be going back to IVY. Once it warms up, the rooftop will be an ideal spot to watch the sunset, a resource that Stone Oak has yet to capitalize on. As for the music, there’s a rotating cast of DJs Wednesday through Saturday. “We’re gonna mix it up, especially on Fridays,” Fuhrmann assured me.

If you’re one of the 300+ people who plan to spend New Year’s Eve at IVY, go early if you expect to get in. ($10 cover includes free champagne at midnight). And P.S. We heard a rumor from a reputable source that involves not-so-distant fireworks.

— Bryan Rindfuss

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