You’ve heard of The Ivy, everyone has. It has long history of almost 100 years old entwined with celebrity visits, business meetings for the corporate world and special occasions. Whilst it’s certainly considered A Bit Fancy, the consistency of The Ivy’s reputation is surely based on its food, classic and high quality, as opposed to the famous faces who walk through the door. So when my best friend invited me to take the afternoon off to join her and some friends for a leisurely boozy lunch at The Ivy’s Chelsea outpost, Ivy Chelsea Garden, I naturally jumped at the chance. I rarely let the combination of the words ‘boozy’ and ‘lunch’ pass me by, and the opportunity to try The Ivy’s famed menu at last was enough for me to immediately book a half day off.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a beautiful restaurant. Stylish yet classic decor with white tablecloths, bevelled mirrors and beautiful big glass and brass lanterns throwing light across the room is second only to the pièce de résistance: a conservatory area that opens into the coveted garden. It was a beautiful day which would have made the garden area a dream but unfortunately despite requesting two months in advance, it seems you may need to know someone in order to secure a table out amongst the pergolas and fountain.
Seated in the buzzy main restaurant and starting as we meant to go on, we ordered a beautiful bottle of rose whilst we scoured the menu, everyone wanting more than one thing – the starters a particular battle. Apparently I’ve travelled back in time as I’ve recently grown a serious penchant for a good prawn cocktail, but after much deliberation I opted for the buffalo mozzarella with asparagus, edamame, roasted pine nuts, pesto and baby basil (£8.95). And what a choice; honest to God one of the best starters I’ve ever had. Good food is food that stays with you, and this dish is certainly one of them. Luckily for me, the others at the table were generous with their choices, so I got to try not one but two tuna dishes, both of which I toyed with ordering myself. Tuna carpaccio with spiced avocado, lime, creme fraiche and coriander shoots (£9.95) was no disappointment, but certainly out done by the melt-in-the-mouth Ponzu marinated tuna served with radish, ginger and mango with wasabi (£10.50). The arrival of salt encrusted sourdough (£4.25) and more of the aforementioned rose made the first course a hard one to beat.
Service was excellent throughout, and respectful of the fact we asked for a wait between courses, something that isn’t always the case and a real pet hate of mine. When we did get around to the mains, three of us had gone with the chicken Milanese topped with a perfectly fried egg with the goldest of yolks (£16.95), whilst the remaining of our party went for the sea bream. The former was excellently done, the brioche crust of the chicken crisping beautifully, along with perfect truffle Parmesan fries (£4.50) and thick cut chips (£3.75). For good measure I swiped some zucchini fritti (£3.75) too but found them too floury – the truffle and Parmesan chips came out on top in the potato stakes.
But enough of all that, let’s talk about THAT dessert. You may have seen it doing the rounds on Instagram; a chocolate bombe sitting in milk foam, melting as hot salted caramel sauce is poured over it to reveal a vanilla ice cream and honeycombe centre (£8.50). I know. Honestly, it’s worth making a booking at The Ivy for this dessert alone. It’s better than it looks and better than it sounds. Friends ordered dark treacle tart (£6.95) and frozen berries with yoghurt sorbet (£7.50), all perfectly lovely but the envy was palpable. Frozen berries over a chocolate bombe with salted caramel? Amateurs.
Regardless of whether the dessert of dreams stays on the menu (why would it not?), The Ivy is definitely a restaurant I’ll be returning to for years to come. Classic, fantastically executed food with attentive service in a beautiful setting, The Ivy feels like a real treat without the pretentiousness I’d expected. I just hope I can get a seat outside next time.
Have you been to The Ivy and had their famous chocolate bombe? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!