The Ivy Market Grill is Richard Caring’s latest venture (he’s the bloke who sold Cote for millions and he also owns Jackson + Rye, Bill’s, Scott’s and The Ivy to name but a few). I wasn’t convinced by the idea of using The Ivy’s name for a high street chain concept but the place was heaving so it has obviously worked.
The inside was smart and handsome; like a grown up version of Jackson + Rye. Tables were insanely close together though – when I went to powder my nose, I practically sat in the neighbouring tables darne of salmon. They’d crammed tables in wherever humanly possible which made the whole experience a totally joyless one – unless overhearing everyone else’s conversations is your thing.
The menu, which has the exact same layout as Jackson + Rye, was confusing and cluttered. To start, the crunchy prawns with wasabi (£9.75) had a touch of the Weatherspoons about them. They were served on skewers which was a little pointless but most annoying of all, the tails were attached yet hidden in batter. Spitting out a mouthful of prawn shell mush is never a good look.
Slightly better were the wild mushrooms on toast (£7.25) which were pleasantly drenched in a creamy sauce and they were grit free – hoorah! You’d be surprised how many restaurants don’t clean mushrooms properly these days.
The 12oz rib-eye (£26.50) had the oddest texture. The steak was so hot it was actually steaming, and when cut into, the meat oozed water which was most bizarre. I’ve never had a steak like it – it was repulsive. It tasted like it had been cooked en masse. It was expensive too – and it didn’t even come with chips or a sauce.
The Market Grill shepherd’s pie (£12.75) was so hot it felt like it had come fresh from the microwave which was such a shame as the flavour was divine. It didn’t seem to lose its volcanic temperature the whole time it was on the table either. A side of crisp, well seasoned zucchini fritti (£3.75) were the best things we ate all evening.
Ivy Market Grill is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. After that meal, I can confidently say I won’t go back for any of them. The whole thing felt like a re-hashed version of Jackson + Rye to me, which is unimaginative at best, and lazy at worst.