In a city rich with food culture, it is always interesting to see more places open to see what they add to the city’s rich tapestry. So when the famous, London-based Ivy opened its doors we were keen to see what it had to offer. Friendly, attentive (but not too attentive) staff, high quality ingredients in a luxurious setting quickly resolved our search for purpose and it soon became a relaxing escape from the world in the middle of a busy week.
After bringing our drinks (a particularly diverting espresso martini with a choice of syrups: we chose the crème brûlée but we could have had hot cross bun or amaretto) our waiter, Cédric, shared tales with us of dining and drinking in Montmartre after we inquired, and this helped set the tone for an informed romp through the menu, from which we were advised to order something we ‘would not usually order’ and which contained a great selection of tantalising fish dishes, from Yellowfin Tuna to Swordfish.
Deciding to go for the fishy starters, then, we chose the Wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid, and the oak-smoked salmon with black pepper & lemon with rye soda bread. The squid and prawns came with wasabi mayonnaise and miso sauce: Umami, sweet and sour lifting the fresh and succulent seafood in a perfect crisp coating; the salmon was the perfect level of smoky, carved fine like carpaccio and revelling in its own quality, it was a modest celebration of fine ingredients sold without pomp or persuasion. A super start.
An element that can make one wary of eating out is the often shockingly poor basics: overcooked veg, poor seasoning and overcooked meat where corners have been cut can ruin a dining experience. The consistency of nailing each and every one of these details, however, is what makes The Ivy stand out. With this in mind, we had gone for reliable basics.
For mains we chose slow-roasted lamb shoulder with a mustard and herb crust, creamed potato, glazed root vegetables and rosemary sauce; and a dry-aged 12oz British rib-eye on the bone. A good test of any restaurant is the steak: the fat melted, the deliciously-seasoned, locally-sourced steak cut like butter, while the lamb was tangy, mellow, buttery, mouthwatering and, since the vegetables were just as delectably prepared and seasoned, nothing was left on the plate afterwards: all killer, no filler.
For dessert we went for the Chocolate bombe, a melting chocolate extravagance with a vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre and hot salted caramel sauce that was poured onto the bombe, which melted away to reveal not only all those sweet wonders but honeycomb popping candy which fizzed and crackled on our tongues.
A good Spanish red (Ribera del Duero) was the perfect - and perfect temperature - wine to complement our meal, and it didn’t last long.
The execution of good food, a bar only Jack Torrance would prop up, friendly staff and luxurious yet generous portions make paying that little bit extra worthwhile. The food is modest yet the calibre is high - a celebration of ingredients and a love affair with cooking. We will be back.The Ivy York