Restaurant of the Week: The Ivy in the Lanes

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Tucked away with a subtle exterior that masks a beautiful, extravagant interior and truly incredible food, drink, and service, is The Ivy In The Lanes. On Tuesday night, I got to experience for myself what a date night inside their establishment is like, and the short story is that it definitely did not disappoint.

If you’re looking for the long story, I’ve got you covered, but beware, by the end of this article you will be rushing to book a table and salivating over their menu full of delicious options.

As we walked in we saw the beautiful set up with roses surrounding a ‘The Ivy In The Lanes’ sign and a bench beneath, which is great for waiting for the rest of your party or even taking a beautiful Instagram photo – whatever suits.

We were greeted with warm smiles from a front of house team that were eager to help. Upon arrival, as you would expect in such a place, we were offered coat check, asked whether we’d like to sit at the bar for a drink before going to our table, and were offered a vegetarian/vegan menu as well as the regular one.

As we were pretty hungry, instead of stopping off at the bar, which is adorned with perfectly polished glasses and topped with various types of plants, we chose to go straight to our table and get settled there with a cocktail. The table we were given was a two-person corner booth which was ideal as it allowed my partner and I to face each other and be next to each other at the same time. There were cushions but they weren’t needed as the burnt orange booth itself was very comfortable.

It was beautifully presented with cloth napkins, water and wine glasses, cutlery, salt, pepper, and a candle to add to the ambiance. There was a simultaneous feeling of cosiness as well as formality.

What I noticed when entering this establishment is how beautiful and extravagant my surroundings were, however I felt surprisingly comfortable being someone who isn’t usually very fancy in a place that definitely is.

The walls are covered in art, mostly animal and plant themed, with lots of bright colours. The visuals alone are breath-taking. There is art everywhere you look. The music was at a level where we could hear it but didn’t feel like we needed to shout over it to have a conversation. The lighting was low to set the mood, however each table had a light over it so guests could easily read their menus and see their food and drinks.

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We were greeted by the manager, Richard, and our server, Mona, who were both warm and accommodating, while also remaining very professional. Every time Mona came to our table she did so with a smile that seemed genuine and an eagerness to help fulfil our every want and need. We couldn’t have asked for a better server, as she was so attentive and always around if we needed her, but was not at all overwhelming or pushy. She scraped our table to get rid of crumbs between courses, and refilled our wine at just the right moments without us having to think about it. She seemed to truly care that everyone she was waiting on had a great experience, and made it look natural and effortless.

The first thing we did was order a cocktail (obviously). There are plenty of options meaning everyone should be able to find something that suits their palate and preferences. I went for the Spiced Passion Mojito, which consists of Balla Black Spiced Rum, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla syrup, mint, and lime. My partner decided to order the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini, made up of Wyborowa Vodka, Bepi Tosolini Expre Coffee Liqueur, freshly pulled espresso, and some salted caramel syrup for sweetness.

The mojito was better than my expectations, and I could taste every flavour. The notes of vanilla and passion fruit were a nice change from a typical mojito, but all the classic elements were still present and tied everything together. It was strong but definitely not overpowering, making it refreshing and easy to drink. There were real mint leaves to top it all off. Also worth noting, the bar is looking out for the environment by using paper straws.

The espresso martini was also delicious, with sweetness from the caramel coming through first, followed by the salty element and slight bitterness of the coffee and alcohol, making it very palatable. It was topped with just the right amount of foam and three espresso beans. Both cocktails were beautiful to look at and even more lovely to taste.

There are also a couple new cocktails coming soon for Valentine’s Day which we were slightly too early to try as they debut on 10 February. However, they both sound too delicious not to mention and I look forward to tasting them. The first is An Officer & A Gentleman, consisting of amaretto, cranberry juice, rhubarb liqueur, lemon juice, and is topped with champagne and a lemon twist garnish. The other is Aphrodite’s Heart, which is made up of Beefeater, lemon juice, egg white, sugar syrup, Lanique, a couple heart-shaped dashes of angostura, coupe, and a flower garnish. Both sound like a perfect Valentine’s Day treat to me!

Next we ordered appetisers. My partner and I have been trying to go vegetarian since the beginning of the year, but we decided to share one seafood and one vegetarian option for both the starter and main course to get a fuller picture of the food they offer, and called it our cheat day for the month. We won’t be eating meat again soon, but breaking our vegetarian streak for this meal was definitely worth it.

For the starter we ordered The Ivy Cure smoked salmon and crab, which comes with dill cream, lemon (which came in a cover so seeds don’t end up on the food), and dark rye bread. We also chose the truffled wild mushrooms, which came with a potato rösti, creamed mushroom, fried quail’s egg, and grated truffle. Salivating yet? We definitely were!

This course arrived fairly quickly and we couldn’t wait to tuck in. Both were generous portions, but not so much so that we felt full before our mains arrived.

I started with the salmon and crab, which was presented on a beautiful plate that looked like it was made of crystal and gave a rainbow effect to whoever was eating from it. The seafood was clearly fresh from the day’s catch as it was very flavourful and mouthwateringly tasty. It went well with the pieces of rye bread, but I did eat some of the seafood on its own to get the full flavour. The dill fitted nicely, and along with the lemon, helped tie everything together just perfectly.

As fans of funghi dishes, the mushroom dish was unbelievable and may have even been both of our favourite part of the whole meal (although it is so hard to choose). The worry with food that has “truffle” in the title is that it will be overpowering, however this was not the case. We could definitely taste the truffle and it added a lot to the dish, but all the other flavours came through as well. The combination of the egg, potato, and mushrooms in what was quite possibly the best sauce I’ve ever tried was a stroke of genius. I know it’s the first thing I’ll be ordering next time. If they offered a bigger version as an entrée I’d be all over it! Who says vegetarian options are boring? This one was indulgent and delicious.

The seafood main we ordered was the lobster linguine which came with tomato and chilli sauce, San Marzanino tomatoes, parsley, and spring onion. Along with plenty of small pieces of lobster mixed in the pasta, there were also two pre-shelled, perfectly cooked claws. The sauce was light and tasty, and the tomatoes fit seamlessly in the dish. The spring onion and parsley added a nice punch of flavour. I also added some chilli flakes and chilli oil which were brought to the table, along with a lemon, when our meals arrived. It was nice to be able to make the food just as spicy as I like rather than there being a blanket level of spice for everyone. This dish was indulgent and filling while remaining fresh and light at the same time. It was a lovely treat that was presented beautifully and tasted like a dream.

Our vegetarian entrée choice was the halloumi open sandwich which consisted of grilled halloumi, crushed avocado, black olives, red pepper, San Marzanino tomatoes, watercress, and yuzu sauce. With this we also ordered a side of truffle and parmesan fries. While they weren’t needed because our meals were filling enough on their own, they were a welcomed addition. The halloumi dish had a great variety of both textures and flavours. The softness of the avocado, the crispiness of the bread, and the in-between textures of the halloumi, tomatoes, peppers, and olives made each bite interesting. The sauce was so delicious that we dipped our fries in it, and it was perfectly paired with the main dish. We also added a little chilli oil for a slight kick. This is a lower cost option, especially in comparison with our other entrée, however it did not show in the quality of the food or the presentation, both of which went beyond our expectations.

We had a bottle of red wine to accompany our meal, a Lierre Nero D’avola, 2018. It was medium bodied and very drinkable, so much so that we stuck around for a while after our meals to finish the bottle. It starts off light, then comes through with more body as you swallow, and each sip leaves you wanting another. It was a lovely addition to the meal and its flavours paired nicely with our food, and even better with our desserts. It was obviously carefully chosen by the restaurant for these reasons.

Out of the nine enticing dessert options, I ordered the crème brûlée, and my partner ordered the chocolate bombe. The crème brûlée was a fairly large portion that we couldn’t quite finish, so it could be a good option for sharing. It was presented in what looked like a mini sauce pan which was more interesting than a typical dessert dish. The vanilla custard was divine and the sugar crust was perfectly caramelised on top. It was indulgent without being heavy. I couldn’t have asked more of a classic crème brûlée.

The chocolate bombe was the extravagant, show-stopping option, in comparison to our other more classic choice. It was a melting chocolate bombe with a vanilla ice cream and honeycomb centre and hot salted caramel sauce. Yes, it was just as delicious and indulgent as it sounds. The presentation was a spectacle in itself, as Mona poured the hot salted caramel sauce over the chocolate bombe and we watched it melt to reveal the honeycomb and vanilla centre (check out the video on our social media). As you can probably imagine, the flavours tied together perfectly, with the honeycomb standing out the most. It even gave a slight popping candy effect on its own. It wasn’t a massive portion, and was just the right amount for such an indulgent, rich dessert. It matched beautifully with the wine and, along with the crème brûlée, was the perfect end to our three courses.

After this I ordered a peppermint tea and my partner ordered a single espresso. The tea seemed to be their own brand, and it was the perfect level of peppermint. By this I mean I could definitely taste the peppermint but not so much so that it felt like I was drinking toothpaste and it didn’t give the mouthwash-like aftertaste that some mint teas are guilty of. It was presented in a teapot that I could barely lift because it was so heavy thanks to its high quality. The espresso shot came at the right temperature accompanied by white and brown sugar.

Our experience exceeded all of our expectations which were high to begin with, and we hope to return as soon as this weekend when my partner’s family come to visit. The ambiance, the service, the food, the drinks, the décor, everything was phenomenal. We genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better first experience at The Ivy In The Lanes.

I wholeheartedly recommend dining at this restaurant, whether it be for a date, a family gathering, you want to have a nice dinner with some friends, or even on your own. There didn’t seem to be a specific age bracket – we saw young adults, elderly people, and everyone in between all enjoying their experiences. The Ivy In The Lanes appeals to everyone thanks to the undeniably high quality of everything they have to offer. Treat yourself, book a table, and I promise you won’t regret it.

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