Renowned for old school glamour and celebrity diners, the Ivy of London has inspired a chain of restaurants. The latest of which has Edinburgh abuzz. But if you’re expecting fine dining that’s nothing short of first-rate, well … that’s awkward.
Shortly after nine in the evening, we glided into the Ivy with Edinburgh Foody Kerry Teakle in tow, and our dress code set to fabulous.
We also came with the odd expectation or three, after all the original Ivy is a century old with a solid reputation for dining out that’s top-notch.
At first glance you can see the interior designer has done an inspired job, though we were soon informed, rather rudely, you’re not allowed to photograph it.
‘Really,’ we sighed. ‘How [ little bit of sweariness here ] tiresome.’
So … imagine if you will bursts of rich colour, leather upholstery and brass accents. Add to that a reasonably well-dressed crowd (not a ripped jean or tracksuit top in sight, hooray) and NO children.
All good signs Kerry and the Social Bitches will enjoy their evening. Though in truth, Isaac is still a little dark at this point that his artistic flair is being curtailed. Fair enough.
Anyhoo … we’re given seats in the window, overlooking St Andrew Square. The view is both beautiful and lively, but Isaac’s not feeling it.
‘Don’t like the chairs,’ he says sharply. Yes, yes we know, this is really about the “no photos” policy.
Kerry suggests that like every other problem in the world, it can be solved with wine. Oh yes, she’s a lush after our own hearts!
Soon we’re toasting the world, and enjoying a little sourdough bread, along with the Fried Arborio rice balls with truffle & parmesan. Utterly delicious, by the way, perhaps things are looking up.
Well, actually, no … another minor quibble soon surfaces …
Although the service is one hundred per cent friendly and professional, it seems to be pushing us a little faster than we really want to go.
Though on the plus side, it isn’t long before I’m diving into the Duck liver parfait with caramelised walnuts, pear & ginger compote and toasted brioche. So good, I seriously consider licking the plate just in case I’ve missed any.
Isaac too is impressed with his Atlantic Sea scallops with truffle risoni, shaved parmesan and sweet potato crisps. Cooked to perfection, this dish guarantees the mouth a good time.
Kerry, meanwhile, is on a health kick of sorts, so skips the entrée in favour of more wine. She then starts misting over as she discusses the benefits of Nordic walking, which might suggest she’s already had a glass too many. But we digress.
In record time our mains appear (yes that is another reference to us being rushed), and suddenly our party of three is most definitely a table divided.
But let’s start with the good news …
Within seconds, I’ve fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with my Game pie. Not only is it seducing me with its hearty combination of pheasant, venison and wild boar, but its soft pastry and truffle sauce are sheer perfection.
With slightly less fervour, Kerry tucks into her Chicken Milanese that’s brioche crumbed with a fried egg sitting on top. Although good, suffice to say it doesn’t quite encourage the same excitement as Nordic walking.
And then there’s Isaac’s Slow roasted Lamb shoulder with a mustard and herb crust, and rosemary sauce. It’s a dish that should make any problem in your life instantly vanish, but … well … how do we put this?
Complete disaster darling!! Not only is it lacking in taste, but “fall effortlessly from the bone” it does not …
And when it comes to lamb, Isaac is VERY unforgiving.
So now, in his eyes at least, not even dessert can save the day. And that’s despite the fact his Blackberry ice cream sundae with mouse, shortbread and a blackberry sauce is really rather good.
Kerry and I are also very impressed with the Chocolate bombe and Apple Tart Fine, which is flambéed right at the table.
But sadly, the taste we were left with was one of disappointment. While the menu’s filled with some great dishes, others fall on the wrong side of average.
Add to that, you’re being rushed through your meal and out the door again, and long story short: the Ivy isn’t really delivering the fine dining experience its image suggests.
Yes, we definitely came with expectations. But surely fabulous food, atmosphere and service isn’t too much to ask? Is it??
Reviewed September 2017
The Ivy, Edinburgh
6 St Andrew Square
0131 526 4777