I want to love The Ivy, I really do. Its theatrical history and glamour is right up my alley. On my first disastrous visit last year, we never made it past the bar, which made for an awfully awkward dinner. So when I heard they were giving the place a huge renovation, I was excited to be eating in the actual dining room.
It’s a stunning room with a large bar in the centre with luxurious pink stools dotted around. There was an exciting air about the place; over my right shoulder was Michael Parkinson and the left, Anita Dobson. 💁
Atmosphere aside, the rest just felt a bit flat. Bang bang chicken to start (£8.75) was some pleasant chicken dolloped with masses of peanut butter. Steak tartare (£10.75) was missing its cresting egg yolk and my tempura rock shrimp and squid (£11.75) was claggy and drastically under-seasoned.
For main, the lamb rump with minted smoked aubergine and quinoa tabouleh (£23) featured tasty chunks of meat but they were really overdone which totally let it all down. It felt a bit like picnic food.
Chicken masala (£15.75) was fine; neither dreadful nor memorable. The shepherd’s pie (£15.75), which is something of a signature dish now, was more special. A really flavourful and cockle-warming dish.
For pud, the Gariguette strawberry meringue (£7.50) was meringue, strawberries and cream; nicey, nicey. The baked Alaska for two (£16.50) was certainly theatrical as it was flambéed table-side, but the fire was so great (see my Vine here for proof) that it left the meringue with a burnt and bitter taste. The accompanying Griotte cherries were inedibly bitter.
You could say The Ivy was still finding its feet, we were indeed dining during the few weeks of previews, but at full price I would have hoped they knew what they were doing. The atmosphere really is wonderful and the dining room really is stunning; I want to love The Ivy…I really do…