Well, technically we didn’t dine at The Ivy, not the one all the celebs and fancy people go to… we actually ate at The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden, one of the many branches of The Ivy inspired by the original restaurant.
The Ivy Market Grill is located right in the heart of Covent Garden where, at 5pm, there was already a throng of activity, mostly made up of tourists and office workers all looking for an early drink or bite to eat. The bustling hive was already in full swing when we arrived and seemed only to increase as we departed at 7pm; a non-stop whirlwind of all-sorts desperate to try The Ivy experience, or indeed, as we soon would do ourselves, making an eager return.
Having eaten at The Ivy in Edinburgh not too long after it opened, I knew we were in for a treat, though Covent Garden was infinitely better. Despite having an early reservation we chose from the A La Carte menu (however, they do offer two and three course pre-theatre menus for less than £30) and we enjoyed two glasses of champagne each throughout dinner.
But let’s get to it. What did we eat, and how was it?
For me: crab and apple salad (£11.95)
Light, fresh (the watermelon was a pleasant surprise) and yet somewhat indulgent, this was a glorious start to the dining experience.
For mum: asparagus with truffle hollandaise (8.25)
Perfectly cooked, the asparagus was soft but with a little crunch along the stem. The hollandaise was a good consistency – not too thick – and came in a little boat on the side so that the diner chooses how much to have. Ideal, as hollandaise is easy to go overboard with, and can quickly overtake other ingredients. The truffle was a luxurious, tasty and suitable addition to this simple dish.
For both: monkfish and prawn curry with jasmine rice, coconut ‘yoghurt’ and sweet potato crisps (£17.95)
Aside from the overuse of what seemed to be lemongrass (the stuff sends me crazy), the curry was superb. It was full of flavour and fairly sweet by way of rich spices, coconut and sweet potato, while the meaty monkfish and king prawn provided a depth to the dish without soaking up too much flavour which could, potentially, have ruin the fish. The jasmine rice was a pleasant accompaniment, the mint yoghurt providing a balance to the odd red chilli here and there. One thing that made us sad – despite there being plenty of monkfish, I found only one prawn in my dish, while mum wasn’t sure she had any at all.
For me: apple tart fine, flambéd with vanilla ice cream (£8.50)
The menu explained that the tart would take precisely 14 minutes to be cooked. I wish I had timed it, but I get the impression that The Ivy wouldn’t mess around with a minute here or there… that said, my tart was slightly overdone on one side, though it wasn’t ruined. The pastry was paper thin, letting the overlapping apples lead the way in terms of flavour. The ice cream was a classic note to a classic, but prettier than usual, dish. The flambé by the waiter was expertly done and made this the standout dessert, in my opinion.
For mum: crème brulée (£6.50)
A simple dessert but one that can easily go wrong. Too thick, too runny, too crunchy, too chewy… none of the above applied and The Ivy Market Grill can rest assured they know how to do an excellent crème brulée.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend The Ivy Market Grill to anyone visiting London. It was an excellent meal and was certainly value-for-money, given the name association/reputation and high-end dishes on the menu. I would certainly return there without hesitation if I were in the area because it was fine dining in a relaxed way. The service was top notch, and our waiter was delightfully attentive without imposing. Overall, 9/10, losing a point purely on the lack of prawns in the main dish. The evening was so good that we ate lunch the next day at The Ivy Tower Bridge – mostly so we could eat the stuff we didn’t choose the night before!
This post in in collaboration with The Ivy Market Grill.
Our meal and drinks were provided free of charge from The Ivy Market Grill in return for social media coverage and a blog post.