Thereâ€™s an Ivy CafÃ© popping up all over England at the minute. St Johnâ€™s Wood? Yup. Blackheath? You bet. Guildford? Naturally. Edinburgh? Och aye. Iâ€™ve been to quite a few of them now and they always offer decent food in beautifully kitted out surroundings. Like a fancy CÃ´te.
Their Tower Bridge outpost is their prettiest, helped along by the views of Tower Bridge from our table. Itâ€™s a massive space with two huge dining rooms set over two floors, a conservatory, a separate bar worthy of propping up for a pre dinner drink and an outdoor terrace.
We start with piping hot truffle arancini (Â£5.50) while we peruse the vast menu. They let off a right old truffly pong which is never ceases to get me going.
Mozzarella di bufala (Â£8.95) is paired with a well balanced collection of cob nuts, pesto, mint, peaches and olives. Thereâ€™s crunch and creaminess, sweet and saltiness. Itâ€™s very clever indeed.
Oak smoked salmon (Â£11.50) is of good quality and comes topped with a crab and dill cream providing an added seafood wallop. Simple stuff but throughly enjoyable. The lemon is an a muslin cloth too (no pips!) – it’s the little things.
For main, I go for the chicken schnitzel special which looks a little burnt round the edges but doesnâ€™t taste it. The breadcrumb coating is both crisp and a little oily meaning itâ€™s not dry and the chicken is moist. A rich mushroom sauce is great for dunking. A good hangover dish.
Steak, egg and chips (Â£14.50) is a solid classic. The thinly beaten rump steak is pink and juicy, the fries salty and fresh and the eggs with a yolk just gooey enough to provide a sauce.
For dessert we share an Ivy classic: frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce. It never gets old does that one. The casual defrosting of the sharp fruit as they cook in the aggressively sweet white chocolate sauce is a pudding loverâ€™s idea of heaven.
As The Ivy continues its humungous roll out across the country, the most important thing will be consistency. But so far, so good. I just hope they open one near my parents so we can go somewhere other than Pizza Express.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant