The Ivy has long been one of London’s famed culinary institutions and celebrity haunts, and The Ivy Café in Marylebone is the latest venue to join this elite family of restaurants.
The Ivy Café is conveniently situated near to the great shopping thoroughfares of Bond Street and Oxford Street, it graces the same site once occupied by The Union Café.
A refurbishment guided by the Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, this establishment, which opened last November, has an Art Deco feel to it, but at the same time, the ambiance is relaxed and sophisticated. The single floor dining area is dressed with vintage posters and colourful artworks overlooking the leather-clad chairs and bar stools on the beautifully tiled floor. With a central bar, guests can admire the concocting of artistically prepared beverages from the nicely formulated cocktail menu. Behind the scenes, the kitchen is overseen by the highly experienced Executive Chef, Sean Burbridge, who was the Head Chef of Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurant, Petrus.
There is a large choice of menus in the week depending on what time of day you choose to go, starting with breakfast which runs until 11:30. At the weekend, there is a different and reasonably-priced offering which sees the menu divided into breakfast until 11:00, which is then followed by brunch which is available from 11:30 to 16:00. We visited this establishment on a Sunday at 12:00 (qualifying for the latter), and as this venue is highly sought-after, those eating in pairs are given a 120-minute slot, which is extended to over three hours for groups of five people or more.
To get the palate going, we tucked into spiced green olives which complemented the glass of champagne given to us on our arrival. There is a good choice of starters, which range from seasonal soup to apple and stilton salad. A long-term favourite, I opted for the deliciously moist and thinly sliced tuna carpaccio with jalapeño, coriander and lime which was decorated with artistic swirls of Crème Fraiche and small mounds of guacamole topped with radish quarters. I could have easily eaten another, it was simply that good. My companion chose the equally impressive crispy duck salad which was made up of bean shoots, pak choi and green leaves that sat on a bed of crisp black radish. All of the ingredients in this dish were brought together with a sweet five spice dressing.
For the main course, there is a wide array of options, and I continued with a fish theme. Although the salmon and smoked haddock fishcake proved very tempting, I couldn’t resist the whole Dover sole on the bone which was prepared with beurre noisette (a warm butter sauce), lemon, capers and parsley. It was sublime and cooked to perfection, and the flesh of the fish simply glided off the bone as soon as it came into contact with the knife and fork. Sides and sauces are additional at The Ivy Café, and I opted for a dose of truffle and parmesan chips to go alongside the fish which were none other than divine, and very rich in taste. My dining partner carried on where she had left off with the starter, and sampled the light and creamy aromatic duck curry with lemongrass, lime and chilli which came with a separate portion of steamed jasmine rice wrapped in a banana leaf.
For dessert, it is another tempting menu that gets brought to the table. Here you can find an assortment of sweets such as a chocolate bombe and a cherry pannacotta, as well as truffled unpasteurised Camembert with rye crackers. I headed for the crème brûlée served in a copper saucepan, whilst my companion opted for some refreshing frozen berries which were joined by a hot chocolate to round off what had been a memorable meal.
The service which we experienced from our hosts throughout our visit was as excellent as the food that we had tasted. The Ivy Café in Marylebone has certainly got the formula just right, and we will certainly be returning in the near future.
The Ivy Café – Where and How?
The Ivy Café is located at 96 Marylebone Lane, Marylebone, London W1U 2QA, United Kingdom. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.theivycafemarylebone.com.
A selection of dishes from The Ivy Café