The Ivy; a long-established and well know celeb’ hang out in central London. When it’s time to expand, the obvious location is the UK’s second food capital – Bristol! Keen to find out what all the fuss is about, we made our reservation a couple of weeks before the restaurant had opened. Ahead of our booking we looked at the menu on their website and were amazed, if slightly concerned, at the vast selection on offer. Some of the best restaurants we know have very limited but perfectly formed menus, offering a handful of exquisitely crafted dishes. By contrast, a lot of very average eateries have extensive menus, catering for all tastes but often spreading themselves too thin. So our expectations were a little confused, but our hopes still high!
The Bristol Ivy is situated in Clifton Village, in the old Natwest bank building. Despite the size of the building, from the outside it’s all quite discrete. As you enter the main room it’s a different story; one of grandeur and wonderful 1920’s decor – think Great Gatsby and speakeasies.
We were greeted by an array of welcoming faces, one of who showed us through the beautiful main room into the conservatory. We’d both had long days, so looked straight to the cocktail menu.
The drinks selection was a bit less extensive than the food menu, but there were still plenty of interesting looking options on offer and we could see our next few rounds in front of us. We started with a Caledonia Collins (a long drink with vodka, elderflower, cucumber, apple, lime and cider) and a Brunel Breeze (vodka, passionfuit and lemon with ginger ale); both very refreshing with a modest alcoholic kick.
Steph made her food selection easily, going for the generous helping of rich smooth pate served with a tangy chutney and crunchy sourdough toast.
As a lover of duck pancakes with hoisin sauce I couldn’t resist their crispy duck salad, and I wasn’t disappointed. The duck was wonderful; moist and flavoursome on the meaty bits, and perfectly crispy on the edges. served with a light salad and sweet dressing- what a fantastic dish!
Another peruse of the cocktail menu between courses landed us with two more tasty drinks; a Lavender Lady – gin with orange blossom, peach pulp, creme de peche and lavender and an Angel’s Share – a take on a Mojito with kumquats and lime leaves.
For her main Steph opted for the burger (definitely a pattern emerging here!), with chunky chips and side salad. The burger was huge and I had an inkling some might be coming my way; no matter how full I am I can’t see good food go to waste.
For me the starters looked more interesting than the main dishes and, keen to try as much as I could, I decided to go two for my main. The scallop dish proved too much for me to turn my back on. Classically partnered with a pea puree and Parmesan crisp, this simple dish packed great flavours and a lovely balance; the delicate scallop and pea not overpowered by the Parmesan.
I also enjoyed a tomato and watermelon salad with feta and mint which worked really well and cleansed the pallet nicely.
I also had an extravagant Brigg Stow Sour cocktail, with Chivas Regal 12yr with Agave sec, ginger, lemon and Ardbeg. There’s no photographic evidence of this one though I’m afraid; the effects of the previous few had kicked in and we forgot to take a pic.
Despite having more than enough to eat, we glanced the dessert menu and felt it would be rude not to round off our lovely evening with a pud’ or two. We went for the indulgent chocolate bomb, which looked spectacular when it arrived at our table; a perfectly smooth and round tempered chocolate ball with gold leaf flecks, served with a small jug of hot rich honeycomb sauce, which you pour over the chocolate shell, melting it instantly to reveal the encased vanilla ice cream. In our excitement to pour the hot sauce we forgot to take a ‘before’ photo. What you see here is the ‘after’ picture, and it doesn’t really do it justice; it looked and tasted a lot better than this picture portrays.
We also had a tangy lemon meringue pie, which cut through the chocolate dessert nicely.
The Ivy Bristol is a lovely venue, the service is friendly and the food and drinks we enjoyed were really very good; we’ll be going back – it’s a great restaurant for a treat or special occasion.