Review: The Ivy

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The original Ivy restaurant is located on Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and has been a coveted venue for the rich and famous for over 100 years. As is expected with a restaurant of such prestige, there were mixed responses from the residents of Clifton when a branch was announced in their area.

The building used to be a Natwest bank, and the conversion from public service into private restaurant is not a new one for Clifton; the old Clifton Post Office and Coutts Bank had been  previously converted.

Restaurants nowadays are large, multi-faceted businesses. The team that brings us The Ivy is just another wing of Caprice Holdings, a restaurant group that also owns other high end restaurants such as Le Caprice, J Sheekey, Daphne’s and Bam-Bou. The Ivy was welcomed to Clifton by many people, especially those looking for a “top-end” experience. On the other hand, there is a feeling of sadness felt by those who would have preferred an independent restaurant in Clifton rather than another national one.

The ambience inside the venue is definitely worth paying for. There is a tangible feeling that the restaurant is special, portrayed by the attractive artwork adorning the walls. I visited on a Saturday at lunchtime and every table was full, which instilled a sense of excitement.

A duck salad

My starter, a duck salad.

As we were celebrating a special occasion I opted for a three course meal. I had concerns that the portions would be very small, as in many other upmarket restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised. To start I had an Asian-inspired duck salad, which was delicious, and for my main course I had a burger. It wasn’t anything special, but it was still highly enjoyable. My pudding, however, was unlike anything I have eaten before. A solid chocolate “boule” was presented to me and warm chocolate sauce poured over it, causing the dessert to melt before my eyes. I was especially impressed with the way that the cool ice cream complimented the hot chocolate, culminating to form a truly unique experience.

This pudding sums up my overall feelings about The Ivy. Although the food is very good, the restaurant is more about the spectacle that it creates. The interior design in the restaurant is very attractive, using pictures of Bristol to make it seem “local”. The waiters are both friendly and quick to respond to issues; a smashed glass was speedily dealt with and they seemed to cope well with the large volume of customers.

The Ivy is a fine addition to Clifton, yet only time will tell if it is a greater asset than the soon to be revamped Avon Gorge Hotel. The combined effects of service, good food and overall atmosphere make the restaurant a great place to visit. The high prices will definitely put some people off, but for special treats it is the only place to go in Clifton.