The Ivy Cafe – Marylebone, London
The Ivy has been an iconic destination for all foodies and celebrities alike. Guests ranging from Kate Moss and Elton John to Rita Ora and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, have increased the already grown reputation of the restaurant in London. With thrilling locations such as Covent Garden and King’s Road, the restaurant has opened its doors to West End’s aficionados in 96 Marylebone Lane. Really close to Oxford Street’s Selfridges, Topshop and John Lewis, not to forget The Wallace Collection and Wigmore Hall, The Ivy Cafe is located on a quiet street, but still easily accessed by shoppers and cultural scavengers.
Known as one of the hardest places in London to get a reservation, The Ivy Cafe will keep 40% of their tables free for walk-in diners, thus it is set to get easier to see what’s the hype all about. The corner site offers an all-day cafe-style dining with a casual air & Modern European menu of familiar dishes. Going through straddles breakfast and elevenses through afternoon tea to an a la carte menu, the restaurant addresses all tastes.
The interior design is classy, including an antique brass top bar and vintage red leather banquettes, with a cosy and relaxed feel. The smiley staff and hostesses transform the place into a friendly environment, somewhere to pop into, have a quick bite or a coffee meeting with a client, a tea with a friend or a family dinner. I was accompanied by a dear friend of mine and we were served by Alina, such an amazing waitress, chatting with us about the venue, recommending the best dishes in the menu and bringing a positive vibe to our entire dining experience.
Now, let’s move on to the most important part: the food. For starters we chose Seared scallops with truffle creamed potato, lambs lettuce, Parmensan crisp and shaved truffle; and Spinach, avocado and bacon salad with sourdough croutons and Parmesan dressing. Both dishes were refreshing, beautifully plated and, while pretentious, they still had a homey feel to it, surprisingly. In a place like The Ivy you have to expect an explosion of tastes and a fusion of cuisines, like it was unfolded throughout the evening. The scallops were the best I’ve ever had, and as a seafood lover, I know this is one of the most difficult dishes to get right. The Chef has done a perfect job composing this course, with the dressing complimenting the scallops beautifully.
For mains we spent a long time checking the menu, because we couldn’t decide what to choose. All of the dishes were appealing, but in the end we went for the Whole lemon sole with beurre noisette, lemon, capers and parsley; and the Aromatic duck curry with lemongrass, lime, chilli, and steamed jasmine rice. Two hours before attending this dinner, I had a 3 course lunch and thought I wouldn’t be able to eat anything at The Ivy. Little did I know that the entire dinner experience would be so memorable, and actually enjoy all the dishes here, despite my inability to eat anymore.
I am not a fan of Indian food, curry in particular. But the Ivy dish converted me in a second! This must be the most creamy, flavourful and complex dish I have ever tried. My friend, a really Indian cuisine connoisseur actually said it tops some of the best renowned Indian restaurants, so the Chef has done it again. I am planning on going back next week to the Ivy Cafe, and this dish is definitely going to be one of my options. The second one is the beautiful sole, so light and fragrant, perfect for dinner!
Dessert at the Ivy Cafe is a statement, and if you only go there for coffee, you have to order the chocolate bombe. Melting chocolate bombe with milk foam, vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre with hot salted caramel sauce, an absolute art on a plate. There is an entire spectacle so make sure to Snapchat it! The waiter will bring the bombe on a plate and add a hot caramel sauce on top, causing it to melt in a delicious soup of goodness. If you’re more of a savoury person, then the cherry pannacotta, is a great option. Light, but with a touch of kirsch macerated cherries, this one is a delicate dessert. For the sweet tooth, try the strawberry shortcake sundae with warm poached strawberries, vanilla ice cream, shortcake, crème chantilly and crushed meringue. Heaven on a plate, I am telling you!