Thought we should give The Ivy a go as it's brand new in town, although cunningly designed to look like it's been there for a century or so already. As we stood outside contemplating the menu, a couple passing by recommended it. Seemed like a good omen.
At the reception desk, our coats were taken and hung up. Here we experienced the first of what I can only describe as "slightly uncoordinated staff" teething issues. As I was still holding my cloakroom ticket, another member of staff took it from me and tried to give me my coat back! I mean, 10/10 for keenness, but I'd like my dinner first, please...
The first thing I noticed in the restaurant itself is that the tables are set really close together. Squeezing my ample self between them to sit down was a bit hazardous and even the slenderest of guests risked knocking things off nearby tables in passing. No-one wants a strange bum brushing by their dinner. Also, do be prepared to get cosy with your neighbours as you won't be able to help overhearing their conversations.
It's a pretty big restaurant, too, as I only fully realised when taking the long walk to the toilets. Larger tables are towards the back and smaller parties at the front, by the windows. Careful thought has evidently been given to noise management, whilst also keeping the place looking full.
Generally, staff do still seem to be settling in (there was some rather tentative handing over of dishes to different tables as if the staff weren't entirely convinced they'd got the right one - and obviously better that they checked, if unsure) and a slight air of organised chaos, but everyone was absolutely lovely. I'm sure it's just a matter of time to let them get fully confident & relax into their roles.
Our waiter was charming, friendly and helpful.The lady at the next table wanted advice on gluten-free dishes (I did say you couldn't avoid other people's conversations!), so he brought a hand-written list of suitable dishes back from the kitchen for her.
And the food? Yes, it's really very good. Starters were generous - a deliciously creamy buffalo mozzarella, and asparagus with truffle hollandaise. Mains were venison stew (a special of the day) and chargrilled halloumi with padron peppers - both excellent. With a couple of vegetable sides, a bottle of mid-priced wine, one dessert and a fine cognac, the bill for two of us was about £130 (service is included). Not budget dining perhaps, but you can certainly eat very well here for quite a bit less than that. Light meal or blow-out treat, there's something for every occasion on the menu. Oh, and the breakfast menu looks fantastic, so I'm definitely coming back to try that soon!
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