What? Having stuck to the likes of Richmond, Fitzrovia, Chelsea and Wimbledon, The Ivy Collection has now moved to the City with the opening of The Ivy City Garden, an all-day restaurant with a hidden garden.
New? Not the last of The Ivy collection to open, that goes to The Ivy Tower Bridge, The Ivy City Garden is still pretty new, having only opened at the start of June. It just goes to show how quickly the collection is growing.
Where? The Ivy City Garden, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, EC2M 1QS, www.theivycitygarden.com
On the Menu: As my friend pointed out the menu has everything, there’s so much you don’t quite know where to start. He said if you wanted steak you’d go to a steak restaurant, if you wanted seafood you’d go to a seafood restaurant, but what do you go to The Ivy City Garden for? There are the classics that The Ivy Collection is known for like the shepherd’s pie with Wookey Hole Cheddar mash potato and the chocolate bombe pudding that melts seductively under hot salted caramel sauce. Other dishes include: crab linguine, roast salmon fillet, chicken Milanese, steak tartare and for pudding, flourless cappuccino cake. It’s the same menu found across The Ivy Collection and whilst there is the truffle beef Wellington platter which is unique to the restaurant, more new dishes would bring variety.
The Look: Designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (The Wigmore, 45 Jermyn St., Smith & Wollensky), The Ivy City Garden, follows the same look as the other restaurants: midnight blue chairs, mustard yellows, burnt orange banquettes, bold printed cushions and a mix of booths, bar seating and smaller tables. With tiled floors, stained glass windows and pictures adorning the walls, there’s a lot going on, but it works. The main focus is the garden, trying to find a large space in London, let alone the City, is going to be tricky, so the garden is nothing like the one in Chelsea. There is a retractable roof so you can eat out there all year round, but in amongst the stone elephants and giant plants, it’s all rather squashed. If you manage to get to the bar in the garden you’ll find yourself suddenly in a game of sardines with other drinkers as you jostle to fit in and try to get the attention of the bar staff (both times service was slow), and given that it’s likely to be consistently popular it’s unlikely to be the tranquil city retreat it claims to be.
What We Ate: We rather over did it on the bread, warm bread and butter – one of life’s simple, but ultimate pleasures, so that when we came to order, we both decided to stay away from the heavier dishes of burgers and racks of lamb and went for fish instead. Plump Atlantic sea scallops were served with a light pea and broad bean puree, a little lemon zest and sea cress, whilst tempura prawns were sweetened with a green papaya, cucumber, edamame and matcha tea sauce.
Flaky blackened cod fillet had a sticky, sweet miso glaze; cutting through the sweetness, was a salad of spring onions, radishes, charred lime and a light yuzu mayonnaise, I’d recommend it. A red pepper sauce with cherry tomatoes, toasted fregola, pesto, lemon and baby basil dressed a swordfish steak. Side dishes are kept simple, we added peas, sugar snaps and baby shoots and chips, they could have been a little chunkier but they were perfectly crisp. For pudding, there was an excellent smooth, vanilla panna cotta with a tart raspberry coulis, fresh raspberries and a crisp, sticky almond tuile.
What We Drank: After a glass of Prosecco at the garden bar we stuck with cocktails. If you tend to go for fruity cocktails, move away from apple, elderflower or strawberry based cocktails and go for the City Thyme – a martini made from Bimber blackcurrant vodka, fresh watermelon, lemon and thyme. For those who want something stronger and smokier you’ll want the Aged on the Rocks – made from Barrel-aged Vieux Carre, Dupont V.S.O.P, Calvados, Bulleit Rye whiskey, Dom Benedictine and Antica formula sweet vermouth.
Go With: Given its location its ideal for business lunches and meeting and the crowd in there definitely reflected that, but it’s also a good spot in the City for a date or if you’re looking for somewhere to go in the City around Liverpool Street at the weekend – they’re open for brunch.
Final Word: The Ivy Collection is growing so quickly that it runs the risk of losing a little bit of its magic, of becoming another chain, but so far, they haven’t. You aren’t going to leave The Ivy City Garden thinking that’s the best meal you’ve ever had, parts were great, other parts felt a little lacklustre, that said it’s still a safe bet for the area.
The Ivy City Garden: Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, EC2M 1QS