THE IVY REVIEW: Is Manchester's Newest Restaurant All Fur Coat And No Knickers?
We went to find out...
We finally got to try the much-talked about Ivy restaurant in Spinningfields.
As decadent interior-wise as it is on the outside, anyone I know who's ever been comes back raving about it, and it is, after all the newest (not to mention trendiest) spot in town.
What are the vibes?..
Open since late 2018, The Ivy offer an extravagant dining experience which has fast propelled it to the city's most talked-about restaurants.
It's famed as the biggest restaurant to launch in the UK last year - with 535 covers across the ground, first and second floors as well as the Roof garden which suffered a recent fire. On the first floor, The Dalton Room is available for those looking for a more exclusive experience, and seats up to twenty guests.
Walking in, I was immediately struck by the lavish interiors, which include a gleaming gold and marble art deco bar and stylish green floor with glitttering stones.
But does it live up to the hype?
Stylish and somehow somewhat peaceful in its decorative mayhem, I had one question on my mind - and that was can the food possibly live up to the decor?
Expecting the menu to be minimal and fairly pretentious, I was pleasantly surprised to find ostensibly humdrum favourites with a face-lift, including steak, egg and chips, shepherd's pie, warm chicken salad and for dessert - apple tart and crème brûlée. Begging the question - what's not on the menu?
Alas, The Ivy accomplishes the feat of showcasing a range of dishes with various subcontinental accents without it feeling like a stretch.
Rich, meat-based foods of the North play a part as does vegetarian cuisine and smoky, garlic-heavy creamy-based fish recipes often prevalent in Italian restaurants. The truffled orzo pasta and lobster linguine has rave reviews FYI.
A lifelong cheese fanatic, I went for the Endive and Stilton salad which was a happy mosaic of delicate shaved apple, cranberries and caramelised hazelnuts.
It was creamier than I was expecting but benefited from the fact - and the strength of the blue cheese was just right for me. Defying the classic concept of a salad - this was a taste sensation and so rich that a little bigger and it would have readily constituted a main course.
On which point - tempted as I was with the lamb and fish dishes - I very rarely choose chicken when out dining so I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for the Milanese.
"Tender and packed with flavour..."
Brioche-crumbed to give it that hint of sweetness, the Ivy version of this classic chicken dish is topped with a perfectly fried egg, parmesan (and, here's the clincher) oodles of truffle cream sauce. I am a big truffle fan, in case you hadn't guessed and this one certainly did not disappoint.
Bellies half full but still excited for more, the desserts arrived leisurely and were the absolute cherry on top of a magnificent cake fit for a royal wedding.
I opted for the seasonal special which was a white chocolate version of their melting chocolate 'bombe' - topped with brandy sauce and the melting ice cream bursting out on first contact, this is the real deal and I wish they'd make it a regular feature of the dessert menu.
All food is served with the expertise and flair you'd expect from a place like this and although going with a critical mind, I was blown away and will be making a return soon.
The prices aren't at all unreasonable as you might expect, for starters you're looking at between the £6 and £12 mark (and the latter's for the speciality scallops) and the mains are on average about £16 unless you opt for one of the steaks on offer (sirloin, tartare, fillet and rib-eye in case you're interested.)
As decorative and intricate as its name suggests, The Ivy is a real experience. Walking down the stairs after dinner I felt like I'd travelled much further than just outside my front door, and that's what the best restaurants achieve effortlessly.
Arrive here hungry, leave in a state of pure happiness. What more can you ask for?