The Ivy: there’s just something a little bit luxurious about it, isn’t there?
To prove the point – the last time I visited one of the restaurant’s locations was to celebrate the completion of my university finals. Hair done, glad rags on (a novelty after weeks of sporting a somewhat bedraggled, late-night-study-session look) some girlfriends and I treated ourselves to dinner and drinks in the Bristol restaurant. It was a raging success: photos were taken, stomachs were filled, and heads were made suitably woozy after we decided to take a comprehensive tour of the cocktail menu.
This time around, I’m a few miles further to the South East (and a few months deeper into Graduate Life) at the Ivy Bath Brasserie. Shortly after our arrival, a sunny waitress seats my companion and I before presenting us with a choice of menus. Despite being tempted by several dishes on the All Day Menu – the lobster linguini catches my wandering eye – we opt for the Set Evening Menu option instead: a smart decision for any indecisive eaters out there. The diner receives a starter, main and dessert course, with the choice narrowed down to three for each.
After some deliberation (even choosing between three dishes proves a challenge) I opt for a starter of creamy cauliflower soup rippled with blue cheese. The cheese provides a lovely pop of flavour against the gentle nuttiness of the cauliflower, whilst a few expertly scattered croutons make for a nice crunch every now and then. First course over – and we’re off to a tasty start. Next up: cod goujon with fries. The batter is hot and crisp, the fish soft and flakey; plated up alongside a perfectly tangy Tartar, it’s a traditional dish, done well. Sticking with the classic theme, I choose a bowl of vanilla ice cream to finish: a dessert that is made all the more tempting by the addition of a warm caramel sauce, served on the side (Sally Albright Approved). When poured into the ice cream bowl, the caramel transforms into a deliciously sticky mess; hot meets cold, creamy combines with chewy. It’s the perfect marriage of opposites, and it’s very tasty indeed. From across the (empty) plates, my companion assures me that her own choices – ham croquettes to start, chicken and mash for a main, and a cheese board for one to seal the deal – are equally delicious.
Portion sizes (often a little on the large side when eating out, I find) are also dead on: generous, but not overwhelming. My jeans sit only a little tighter around my waist than they did when I sat down. In fact, it’s a very comfortable dining experience all round. The restaurant’s atmosphere is glamorous, but cozy: the glitz of the dining room’s mirrored walls and tiled floors balanced out nicely by its squashy booths and chairs. Value wise it’s all pretty relaxed too: our Set Menu (a very reasonable £23.50 per diner) is enough to feel like your meal out is a real treat – but not so much that the bill leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
With veggie and meaty options across both the Set Menu and the larger All Day Menu, The Ivy Bath Brasserie also meets the majority of dietary requirements. Vegan options are perhaps a little thin on the ground, but pescatarians and vegetarians are well catered for. The drinks menu is equally varied: non-drinkers are able to choose from a healthy mocktail list (I go for a lovely virgin bellini) whilst those looking for a slightly stronger tipple can peruse a wide selection of alcoholic thirst quenchers. My companion orders something a little different: a CBD Sprit from the restaurant’s new Stress-Free Sipping selection. The Ivy might be traditional, but it’s not out of touch: CBD (a cannabis extract which promotes feelings of calm without giving you a high or any kind) is pretty trendy at the moment. It certainly shakes the wine list up a little.
The Ivy Bath Brasserie offers its guests a tasty meal, eaten in a luxurious, but relaxing, environment. Lobster linguine – I’ll be back.