I know what you’re thinking…. “The Ivy?” “As a Cafe?” No no mon amis, this is no ordinary cafe… This is an upmarket, stylish brassiere with the added appeal of an all day menu and almost half of the tables being reserved for walk-in guests.
This is exactly what you would expect from Caprice Holdings in what is a bijou style of restaurant. Notorious Interior Designer Martin Brudnizki has helped to create a relaxed elegance with additions of an antique pewter bar, pendant lighting, marble floor tiles and vintage red leather banquettes.
I know these banquettes particularly well as within 15 minutes of being there, my phone slipped down the side of one of them only to be swallowed up and trapped between the wall. While I kept my external cool (internal panic), they remained calm and assured me that they would take care of it. A bottle of red and a liqueur later I was more than happy to leave it in their hands and return for it the next morning. I cannot imagine what they had to do to get it. Their service, as always is exceptional.
This is the kind of food that people love… It is refined classic comfort food. It is British & European flavour with an upmarket twist.
A special mention for those Crunchy fried prawns with wasabi mayonnaise and miso sauce. These. Were. Delicious. I could have eaten a dozen of them. I would return for these alone.
Diners favourites include the The Ivy Café shepherd’s pie (Slow braised lamb shoulder with beef and Keens Cheddar potato mash)…. Cheddar. Potato. Mash. Also, the Mozzarella Di Buffala with roasted squash with chilli, toasted sourdough, pumpkin seeds and mint. I mean, just look at it.
Another that is incredibly popular is the Lobster Risotto with fennel, lemon and tomato. Now, I love Lobster and I love Risotto… but as I consider Fennel to be my arch nemesis, I did not try but am told that it is really fantastic.
I had the delicious Slow roasted lamb shoulder with soft Parmesan polenta, roasted peppers, olives and rosemary sauce. The olives were giant and had a salty flavour to cut through a very rich and warming dish. Being partially Greek, I know my lamb and this was cooked perfectly.
My guest had the Chicken Milanese. Though this one is served as Brioche crumbed chicken Milanese with fried hen’s egg, salad mache and black truffle. (Yes, I had more than a couple of bites).
For those of you who are looking for something lighter or sans meat, the Roasted butternut squash with Salad of buckwheat, chickpea, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate, with crumbled feta, harissa yoghurt and coriander dressing will be your ideal dish.
With the desserts, I went big with the Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake. Sometimes I find that “flourless” can actually mean “moistureless” or “everything-you-like-in-a-cake-less” but they have really pulled something special and delicious together with this and truthfully, if you get that sweet craving after savoury but don’t want something too heavy, this is for you.
We may or may not (we did) have also had the seriously good Melting chocolate bombe (it would be rude not to have a companion for the cake) which is served with milk foam, vanilla ice cream, a honeycomb centre with hot salted caramel sauce… Yes, all of that.
For those of you that like a Negroni but don’t like making choices, they do a Negroni Tasting Set….Made up of 3 drinks. Fruity & light with Dolin bittersweet strawberry vermouth, Delicate & herbal with Ivy gin and Rich & punchy ‘Boulevardier’ with Bulleit bourbon
If Negronis aren’t your thing then their Espresso Martinis will be. They are served unsweetened with hot cross bun, amaretto & crème brûlée infusions on the side, for guests to sweeten themselves. If these also aren’t your thing then maybe you should just go home and take a look in the mirror.
This place is for friends or family, its for working lunches and Sunday brunches.
The best thing about this restaurant is that it is open all day and so whether it’s Eggs Benedict in the morining, The Ivy Café’s HLT (halloumi, avocado, lettuce and tomato with thick-cut chips) in the afternoon, or a lengthy Lamb shoulder in the evening, this is ALWAYS the place you should be. I’ll see you at brunch…
The Ivy Cafe – 96 Marylebone Lane, London,W1U 2QA