Top London PR team Paul Sullivan and Kim Morgan introduced me to The Ivy.
Its reputation went before; a favourite of the rich and famous (and those bent on celebrity spotting), The Ivy is a sparkling jewel of London’s restaurant scene. A place to be seen.
From the outside, however, there’s little see, the windows obscured by harlequined stained, frosted glass.
So it was with not a little trepidation I arrived at the latest addition to The Ivy Collection, The Ivy on the Square (as the name alludes, on St Andrew Square).
The Ivy’s signature harlequin design is replicated, briefly, on the approach from Princes Street (stand with your back to Jenners and look up, you’ll spot it), but Edinburgh’s Ivy boasts its own unique decor.
Abstract prints, rich rustic leather banquet seating, and a jungle encounter on the way to the rest rooms, all framed in muted moss green give the restaurant an airy, ageless feel.
It adds to the relaxed and welcoming ambience of the brasserie, which boasts an impressive a la carte menu of good old-fashioned comfort food. From fish and chips and mushy peas, to steak, egg and chips, or shepherd’s pie, there’s something for everyone, even swordfish.
It was the Wasabi prawns with salt and pepper squid that caught my eye in the starter selection.
Crunchy fried prawns, salt and pepper squid with wasabi mayonnaise and miso sauce, it was the perfect opener, followed as it was by the afore-mentioned fish and chips. All very tasty.
Never having been one for desserts, six mini chocolate truffles with liquid salted caramel centres proved the ideal accompaniment for the Earl Grey - served in a silver teapot - that brought the meal to a close.
Not that tea was the only refreshment on offer; the cocktail list includes creations such as the St Andrew Royale, the Holyrood Spritz and the Calton Hill Cosmo, a moreish mix of cranberry, vodka and house triple sec infused with vanilla and citrus, peach bitters, flamed orange zest.
Of course, restaurants are never just about the food and drink. Creating the right atmosphere is vital, which is where the focus falls on the waiting staff.
The art of conversation, communicating in a relaxed, polite manner without over staying your welcome is something many on the front line fail to master these days. Not so here.
Consequently, conversations with bar tenders and waiting staff ranged from travels through Canada, to favourite cocktails, the expression ‘has my name on it’, and the texture of the wallpaper.
That friendly, informative approach is evident from arrival to departure, and continued between courses - take note people watchers, Table 20 has the best views in the house.
With such fantastic staff, relaxing ambiance and wonderfully timeless design, The Ivy on the Square is sure to be a popular addition to the Capital’s ever growing restaurant scene.